Okon Bassey in Uyo
Compared to other states of the federation, Akwa Ibom has the lowest crime rate in the country, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Major General Jamil Sarham, has stated.
The GOC, who dropped the hint during a visit to the state Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, in his office in Uyo, the state capital, lauded the efforts of the governor in the feat recorded, saying crime statistics showed that out of the 36 states of the federation, Akwa Ibom has the lowest crime rate.
He praised the governor and the people of the state for the peaceful coexistence currently enjoyed and witnessed in the state, stressing that if there is no peace, socio-economic development cannot thrive in any society.
Sarham who is the immediate past Commandant of the Nigerian Army School of Infantry, Jaji, Kaduna State, said he was in Akwa Ibom, to register his presence having recently being posted as the new General Officer Commanding 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, the Rivers State.
Specifically, the GOC said he was in the state to further inform the Governor that the Army will be conducting an exercise tagged “Operation Crocodile Smile” to again, drive peace and harmony in the state.
Receiving the GOC, Governor Emmanuel, lauded the Army General for the contributions to the special task force that helped sanitise some of the criminal hide outs in the state, particularly in Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun Local Government Areas of the state.
“I’m happy that through the support of the entire military and Joint Task Force (JTF), we have been able to sanitise and restore normalcy in those local government areas.” The Governor further stressed that this has also sent signals of a zero-tolerance for criminal activities to other parts of the state.
He pledged the commitment and readiness of the state government to support the military in tackling insecurity, saying “you cannot measure peace by any material investment. Whatever I do in security, I see it as investment. For you to enjoy peace you must invest something, so whatsoever we spend in security is an investment.”
Governor Emmanuel disparaged the recent report by the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) alleging that the state government draws cash from a security vote account, explaining that “I’ve never seen where you spend cheque or transfer on security. We spent a lot of money to secure the pipelines here that we tend to enjoy full production of crude oil.”
Adding, “I raised the issue during a National Economic Council meeting that states in the Niger Delta region will stop at nothing to spend for us to have peace, because if we don’t secure the Niger Delta, the whole country will be in trouble. Where Niger Delta goes, that is where the entire country goes.
“There is no amount of money that we cannot spend in order to have peace in the state because without peace, we cannot have any meaningful investment or development. So, when they start writing negative reports, they can also, once in a while, stop to look at the character and integrity of the people who are in government.
“A lot of governors did not come to loot public funds but came to serve, and are doing that sincerely with all amount of intent and purpose.
“So, when they are trying to paint people black using political coverage, they should know what to say and when to draw a line, because if we all hands up, I don’t think the federal government would be able to cater for the entire security agencies. We don’t spend cheques or transfer on security, but we spend cash.”
The governor expressed optimism that the ‘Operation Crocodile Smile’ exercise will further strengthen security in the state and promised to provide a conducive environment for the team to discharge their duties to help sustain peace and harmony in the state.