The Nigerian Army have announced that the Crocodile Smile II, which was launched in Lagos on Friday, would target pipeline vandals, kidnappers, and cultists operating in the South-West and South-South.
The controversial Operation Crocodile Smile II kicked off in Tarkwa Bay, as the army said the exercise would be reinforced by the Special Boat Services of the Nigerian Navy and the Nigeria Air Force.
The operation was inaugurated by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai.
It would be recalled that the air force had joined the Operation Python Dance in the South-East, which would round off today, Saturday, deploying its fighter jets and troops to provide “close air support.”
Saturday PUNCH learnt from sources that plans were being concluded in the air force to also deploy fighter jets to support the Operation Crocodile Smile II.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig Gen Sani Usman, said the exercise was to curtail the operations of illegal oil bunkers, pipeline vandals, kidnappers, militants and cult members.
He said, “It will be recalled that last year, between November and December 2016 Exercise Crocodile Smile I was conducted within the Niger Delta States to curtail prevailing challenges then.
“Similarly, security challenges in the South-West and Niger Delta geo-political regions such as illegal oil bunkering, pipeline vandalism, cultism, kidnapping, militancy and other challenges are now becoming rampant.”
The army spokesman had told one of our correspondents in an exclusive interview weeks ago that the Badoo cult was one of the deadly groups the exercise would combat.
When contacted on deployments, the Director of Information, Nigerian Navy, Captain Suleman Dahun, said, “The details are being worked out.”