By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Nigerian Army has begun the third phase of its Operation Crocodile Smile in the Niger Delta, meant to mop up all vestiges of criminalities in the region.
As part of the community relations aspect of the programme, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.. Gen. Tukur Buratai yesterday donated relief items to persons displaced by the recent floods in Yenagoa, Bayelsa.
Making the presentation on behalf of the COAS, Brig. Gen. Kevin Aligbe, Commander 16 Brigade, Yenagoa, who visited Community Primary School, Igbogene and St. John’s Catholic Church, two of the major camps in the city, reminded the people that the army remains part of them and would always protect them whenever the need arose.
He added that the leadership of the army was saddened by the displacement of persons from their homes, noting that the military would always support any cause to make life more bearable for those affected by the flood.
Gen. Aligbe, who also designated an army doctor in his team to attend to a few medical emergencies, called on the people of the Niger Delta not to fret over the current operation, especially if they observe an increase in the number of soldiers in their communities.
He said: “ Operation Crocodile Smile 111 commenced on the 22 of this month with a multi-agency show of force in Yenagoa metropolis as well as contiguous communities.
“As part of the activities, is the rising trajectory of our visibility in the waterways and on land. As part of the confidence building measures, the Chief of Army Staff has identified with these Nigerians.
“Especially, Bayelsans who have been displaced by the flooding in their communities and so has sent the first batch of relief materials to support them while they are in the camp”.
The army lauded the people of the region for their support and vowed to ensure that communities and businesses thrive in the area with maximum security.
“ We are ensuring that the Niger Delta is safe for everybody to live and do business. We call on everyone to continue to support us as partners in the Nigerian project and in our quest to protect human lives as well as our oil and gas infrastructure.
“So, apart from the operations we are conducting in the creeks and on the roads, to make sure that everywhere is safe, the Chief of Army Staff has decided to reach out to you with this first batch of relief materials,” he added.
Paramount ruler of the community, HRH Hope Green Adike, in his comments, urged the army to sustain its cordial relationship with the civilian populace, noting that the donation would go a long way to ameliorate the suffering of the displaced persons.
“We thank the COAS and the entire army for their support for us. Our people are happy with you and we pray that God will strengthen you to continue to protect and secure us,” he said.
Items donated included bags of rice, garri, packaged water, toiletries, mosquito nets, detergents, among others.