The Nigerian Army says it would soon launch ‘Operation Crocodile Smile II’ in the South-South and South-West region.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman, said this in an interview with Signature TV on Saturday, an online platform.
This is coming few days after the Army launched the operation Python Dance II in the South-east region of the country, an exercise that has generated controversy so-far.
Usman said the success and “encouraging feedback” from the Python Dance I, made the military commence the Python Dance lI.
He said, “Look, this is the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Nigerian military belongs to Nigeria and they have a duty to exercise in any part of the country. It is so sad that some people try to politicise these issues. They should have exercised patience and seen how this exercise would go.
“We had Operation Harbin Kunama II covering the North-West and parts of the North-Central this year. As soon as we are done with Egwu Eke II (Python Dance), we are also going on Crocodile Smile II that will cover the South-South and some parts of the South-West of the country.
“Operation Python Dance II came about based on the encouraging feedback we received as a result of Python Dance I held last year. This is especially because of the crimes during the ‘ember’ period in the region. You know that the South-easterners, who are enterprising and industrious people, have to return to their places at the end of the year.
“Unfortunately, some criminal elements take advantage of this period to perpetrate crimes. We have armed robberies, kidnappings, and communal clashes. But the Christmas of 2016 and New Year 2017 were the most peaceful in that part of the country, and that is attributed to the field training exercise, Python Dance I.”
The army spokesman said the activities of a group of “vocal people, out of mischief or ignorance trying to create violence” should not be taken as the stand of the South-East region.
Tension have been heightened in the South-east since the recent proclamation of the Python Dance by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen. Tukur Buratai.
The operation is intended to check secessionist activities within the region, amongst other forms of criminal activities.
Since the operation began, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, has gone into hiding.
The military thereafter declared IPOB a terrorist organisation.
Also, the Nigerian Navy said on Saturday that it was on a red alert to secure Nigeria’s unity, following rising tension in the south-east.