James Sowole in Akure
To pave way for a violence-free governorship election in Ondo State, military and paramilitary security agencies have destroyed militant camps in riverine Ilaje and Ese Odo Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state.
The operatives were drawn from the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Immigration Service, Nigeria Police Force as well as the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
The exercise started at Igbokoda, the headquarters of Ilaje LGA and later extended to Atijere, Abereke, Agadagba, Obolowo, Aserebobo, Arogbo and Idiogba, among others all in coastal area of the state.
Speaking after the exercise, the Brigade Commander of the 32 Artillery Brigade, Brig.-Gen. Zakari Abubakar said the operation was to warn hoodlums on the waterways that the security agencies were combat-ready to ensure that the coming election was violence-free.
He said: “Our men have gone for Show of Force. It means telling hoodlums and militants that are on the creek and want to take undue advantage to cause trouble that we are ready.
“The purpose of today’s exercise was to get prepared for the October 10 gubernatorial election. We want to ensure that the election is free and peaceful and make sure that hoodlums do not interfere.
“The places visited lead to Delta and Ogun States and they will be coming. But I want to assure you that whenever they come from, we will give them a blocking force.”
He, therefore, urged the hoodlums on the waterways to shun all forms of violence and intimidation before, during and after the October 10 election.
According to him, the military is aware of several camps that are springing up on the waterways.
He said: “With the exercise, we have been able to destroy one hideout of hoodlums at Asere.”
The commander, also, disclosed that the armed forces “will carry out another operation next week Tuesday if logistics are provided.”
He, therefore, enjoined prospective voters not to be afraid but to come out and vote, even as he assured them that the security agencies would protect and provide a conducive environment for them.
He commended the security personnel that participated in the exercise for their gallant performance and the Western Naval Command for making the exercise possible by providing logistics and boats, extending his appreciation to the General Officer Commanding II Division, Maj.-Gen. Bamidele Omosoji for approving the exercise.
Similarly, the Commanding Officer of the Forward Operation Base (FOB) of Nigerian Navy, Igbokoda, Capt. Mohammed Ahmed said that the exercise was to secure the waterways from any criminal activities especially when the state gubernatorial poll was approaching.
Ahmed said: “It is to assure people that we are always there to secure the environment for them and inform hoodlums that we are watching because security agents are ready and it was a successful exercise.”
The commander added that the FOB “has been patrolling waterways and has been ensuring security of lives and properties in the coastal areas and communities.