Wike declares support for military operation in Rivers

Wike also assured of his wholehearted support for the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army to carry out military operations tagged Exercise Crocodile Smile 4 to rid the state of criminal elements.

Governor Nyesom Wike declares support for military operation in Rivers. (Punch)

The governor gave the assurance on Thursday in Port Harcourt when Maj.-Gen. Jamil Sarhem, the General Officer Commanding 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, paid a courtesy visit on him.

Wike also assured of his wholehearted support for the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army to carry out military operations tagged Exercise Crocodile Smile 4 to rid the state of criminal elements.

The governor, who urged the military to restrict its personnel to their traditional role of maintaining security, said that he would never be an enemy to security agencies.

I cannot be enemy to security agencies. Without security, there can be no governance. The Rivers State Government supported the first three exercises; we will support Exercise Crocodile Smile 4.

“We should work as partners. We should not work as if there is a problem. I thank you for coming and hope that this will be a new beginning,’’ he said.

Wike also advised that the military should guard against allowing politicians to infiltrate their ranks and compel its personnel to act outside their traditional roles.

“As I said, we will give you the required support. However, concentrate on your traditional roles. Don’t allow any politician use you,’’ he said.

The governor also said that his administration played a key role in the creation of 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, adding that the state government would continue to partner with the Army to fight crime.

“There is no way that the Rivers state government will not partner with the Army to fight crime. We have always supported Exercise Crocodile Smile. We will support Exercise Crocodile Smile 4,’’ he said.

Wike, who also described Maj.-Gen. Jamil Sarhem’s visit as historic, said that the N100 billion allocated to the Nigerian Army in the 2020 budget towards the promotion of security was inadequate.

Sarhem had earlier told the governor that he was at Government House Port Harcourt to seek the support of the Rivers Government for Exercise Crocodile Smile 4.

He said: “The purpose of this visit today is to intimate you of the Division’s preparation for exercise Crocodile Smile 4 and invite you as one of the special guests.

“Exercise Crocodile Smile 4 is a follow up exercise to Exercise Crocodile Smile 1, 2 and 3. The 6 Division of the Nigerian Army is covering Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers States.

“The pre-exercise flag off will be held on 25th October, 2019. The purpose of the exercise is to build on the successes of the past editions by ensuring total security.

“This will be achieved by identification and clearing of flashpoints of criminal hideouts as well as destruction of illegal oil bunkering camps.”

According to him, the Exercise Crocodile Smile 4 will also include activities to promote civil military cooperation such as medical outreach.

He also urged Gov. Wike to appeal to the people of Rivers to support Exercise Crocodile Smile 4.

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