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Army’s Big Plan for Niger Delta Involves 10,000 Troops

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, has revealed that 10,000 troops will be deployed in Niger Delta by 2017,  According to him, the government has so far deployed 3,000 military personnel as part of its operation, code-named, ‘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.”

The Nigerian Army has said over and over again that ‘Operation Crocodile Smile’ is aimed at training officers in marine combat operations. The COAS said 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 Nigerian military also defended its decision to deploy more troops and arms to the Niger Delta after the government said it was ready for talks with militants in the area.

The Niger Delta Avengers group said it was prepared for talks, as proposed by the government. But despite the offers from both sides, the army appears to be sabotaging peace efforts in the region with more troops and arms that have been sent to the region in recent weeks.

The military maintains that while the armed forces respected the peace efforts, “criminals and economic saboteurs” could not be tolerated.

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