Various Yoruba groups have rejected plans by Federal Government to deploy military operation tagged “Crocodile smile 11” in the South West, describing it as a ploy to “silence and intimidate their leaders’ clamouring for restructuring of Nigeria.”
They also warned President Muhammadu Buhari to be wary of those they described as “fifth columnists” in his government that may want to use military operation to subvert civil rule in the country.
Though Military spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Sani Usman explained that “the military operations in the South East and South West – Egwu Eke 11 and Crocodile Smile 11– like their earlier operations were not targeted at any ethnic group or group of people,” but General Secretary of YCE, Dr. Kunle Olatunji, said there is no need to roll out any military operation in the region because “the police has not told us they are incapable of maintaining peace in the South West.
The National Coordinator, Hon Oladosu Oladapo said if the intention of the Federal Government was to intimidate the region’s leaders and silence agitation for restructuring, it has failed.
He said the Yorubas know what they want and are capable of getting it without taking to arms or being cowed by anybody.The founder of OPC, Dr. Frederick Fasheun advised Federal Government not to cause unnecessary crisis in the country and allow soldiers to stay in their barracks.
He said the police have been doing well in curbing crisis in the South West, and that the police should rather be better equipped than bring soldiers to usurp their functions.
Meanwhile, the military has further explained the rationale behind operation Crocodile Smile II, which began officially in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, yesterday, saying the exercise is to increase army operations’ rhythm and mileage in the Niger Delta.
Speaking, yesterday, during the environmental exercise by the 16 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, stationed in Yenagoa, as parts of series of activities lined up for the period of the operation, the Brigade Commander, Brigadier-General Kevin Aligbe, said there was no need for the populace to panic.
He said: “Operation crocodile smile II is intended to increase the rhythm of our combat operations in the creeks and land base activities. At the end of the day, operational skills of all those participating will be sharpened and of course, we would have gained more mileage.”
Aligbe said he would want Nigerians to take ownership of the army and see the body as the pride of the nation, adding, “and that’s exactly what we have come here to demonstrate within the context of operation crocodile smile II. We must give back to the environment as much as we demand from the environment.”
The Brigade Commander who led men of the Brigade in the environmental exercise also donated some items on behalf of the Nigerian Army to the Obstetric and Gynaecology ward of the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Yenagoa.