Friday, 9 September 2016

JUST IN: Buhari, Buratai set to deploy 10,000 soldiers in Niger Delta

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, has revealed that 10,000 troops will be deployed in Niger Delta by 2017, The Punch reports.

According to him, the government has so far deployed 3,000 military personnel as part of its operation, codenamed, ‘Operation Crocodile Smile’ in the region.

Buratai made this known when he paid a courtesy visit to Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa state at the Government House, Yenagoa on Thursday, September 8.

He said: “The army has deployed about 3,000 officers and men, as well as equipment for the exercise. “The number of personnel will be increased to 10,000 by next year.”

Buratai told Dickson that the ‘Operation Crocodile Smile’ is aimed at training officers in marine combat operations. He added that the operation is needed “because the state is largely riverine and borders the Atlantic Ocean and therefore prone to external aggression, which we have to prevent.”

Buratai assured the communities in the Niger Delta that the on-going military exercise was designed to protect them. He told the communities to remain calm, noting that troops involved in the exercise understood the rules of engagement and would strictly adhere to them.

The COAS added that the military had also been engaged in promoting civil, military relationship in the areas of medical outreach to citizens, road maintenance and education. Governor Dickson on his part, appreciated the military for their selflessness in discharging their duties.

The governor also commiserated with them over the death of some soldiers in a boat mishap that occurred in the state. He urged them to adopt dialogue as a means of fighting criminality in the region. Buratai recently said that the Nigerian army has what it takes to deal with militants in the Niger Delta region.

He gave this assurance on Wednesday, September 7 during the unveiling of the ‘Exercise Crocodile Smile’ at the jetty of the Amphibious Training School in Calabar. Militancy in the region has risen since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power with the vandalism of oil and gas pipelines.

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