Niger Delta Community Decries Heavy Military Presence

Heavy Military equipment were deployed to the Niger Delta as part of 'Operation Crocodile Smile'
Heavy Military equipment were deployed to the Niger Delta as part of ‘Operation Crocodile Smile’

Members of Kokodiagbene community in Gbaramatu kingdom, Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State, have cried out over the heavy military presence in their communities.

Chairman of the community, Sheriff Mulade, said the presence of military personnel in gun boats, purportedly in search of hoodlums in the creeks, has forced his people to be relocating deeper into the swamps in fear.

He said the community was not against the military exercise codenamed ‘Operation Crocodile Smile’ going on in the area, “since it will help to protect oil installation, facilities and creeks” as well as “prevent pirates attacking traders; reduce crime and eradicate illegal bunkering activities in the creek of the Niger Delta.

“But, we want to strongly advise the military authorities to apply professionalism and diplomacy,” Mulade added.

He said the heavy deployment of military personnel and equipment in the area has raised unnecessary tension as residents now live in fear.



    “Most of our people are now relocating to nearby communities for safety due to the rumour of military invasion of flow stations and oil installations in host communities particularly in Gbaramatu kingdom.

    “The people have therefore appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari and the military authority to direct the military personnel not to invade Kokodiagbene and other riverine communities in the name of illegal oil bunkers, criminals and militants,” the community leader said.

    He advised the military authorities to go after the criminals in their hideouts as Gbaramatu kingdom does not harbour militants and pipeline vandals.

    But the military authorities have urged members of the communities where the operation is on-going not to panic as it is only a “training” operation for soldiers.

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