Nigerian army to begin Delta exercises
ABUJA, October 3, 2017 – The Nigerian army announced Monday it would launch training exercises in the Niger Delta region.
The exercises, dubbed Operation Crocodile Smile II, are set to take place October 7-28 and will cover logistics, reconnaissance and medical care.
“It will also avail troops the opportunity to sharpen their combat skills in the conduct of land-based as well as joint riverine operations,” Colonel Aminu Iliyasu, deputy director of army public relations, said in a statement. “The exercise will also aim at imparting to the troops the importance of equipment maintenance, reconnaissance, inter-service and inter-agency co-operation, effective application of the Nigerian Army Code of Conduct as well as strict adherence to Rules of Engagement.”
The announcement was met with opposition from local advocacy groups. Pan Niger Delta Forum (Pandef) co-ordinating secretary Alfred Mulade said deployment of soldiers was “misadvised and ill-conceived especially at this time when the geopolitical zone is gradually coming to terms with the urgent need for sustaining the relative peace in the region.”
“Extending the Operation Crocodile Smile II to the Niger Delta will only aggravate the volatile situation in the region,” Eric Omare, president of Ijaw Youth Council, was quoted as saying by local Daily Post.
The Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators called off the resumption of attacks on oil and gas installations last month. The group made the announcement and put some of its demands on hold after meeting with the Nigeria Ethnic Nationality Youth Leaders Forum and Pandef, which the group said it would fully support in negotiations with the government.
Pandef, an umbrella group of leaders and traditional elders representing militants and other stakeholders in the region, has been negotiating with the government for more than a year and secured a number of concessions in August.