By: Felix Ikpotor
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, Thursday, declared his backing for the about to be launched Operation Crocodile 4.
He also pledged to continuously work with security agencies for the purpose of securing the state, stressing that he would support the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army to effectively carry out Exercise Crocodile Smile 4 to rid the state of criminal elements.
The governor who spoke during a Courtesy Visit by Major General Jamil Sarhem, the General Officer Commanding 6 Division of the Nigerian Army at the Government House Port Harcourt, emphasized that the military must restrict themselves to their traditional role of maintaining security.
PHSpectator recalls that prior to and after the 2019 elections, Wike and the GOC had a very frosty relationship with the governor accusing the GOC of sending soldiers to assassinate him on February 22nd.
On May 15, Wike also accused the general of engaging in oil bunkering followed by counter claims by the GOC that the governor attempted to bribe him to compromise the electoral process as some government officials where paraded with election materials allegedly hijacked.
He said: “I cannot be enemy to security agencies. Without security, there can be no governance. The Rivers State Government supported the first three exercises, we will support Exercise Crocodile Smile 4.
“We should work as partners. We should not work as if there is a problem. I thank you for coming and hope that this will be a new beginning”, he said.
Governor Wike warned the military against allowing politicians to infiltrate their ranks and compel them to take act outside their traditional roles.
“As I said, we will give you the required support. However, concentrate on your Traditional roles. Don’t allow any politician use you.
“Let any politician who wants to play politics, come and face me. The Army should remain on their constitutional role, that will help”, he said.
He informed that the Rivers State Government under his watch played a key role in the establishment of 6 Division of the Nigerian Army. He noted that the State Government will continue to partner with the Army to fight crime.
“Rivers State Government played a great role in the establishment of 6 Division of the Nigerian Army. Of all the states, we played a greater role.
“There is no way that the Rivers State Government will not partner with the Army to fight crime. Rivers State Government is willing to partner with the Nigerian Army to fight crime.
“We have always supported Exercise Crocodile Smile. We will support Exercise Crocodile Smile 4”,
Wike described the visit of the General Officer Commanding 6 Division as historic.
The Governor emphasised that the N100billion allocated to the Nigerian Army in the 2020 budget is inadequate towards the promotion of security.
General Officer Commanding 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Jamil Sarhem had earlier said he was at the Government House Port Harcourt to seek the support of the Rivers State Government for the forthcoming exercise Crocodile Smile 4.
He said: “The purpose of this visit today is to intimate you of the Division’s Preparation for exercise Crocodile Smile 4 and invite you as one of the Special Guest guests “.
He invited Governor Wike for the commencement of Exercise Crocodile Smile 4, which is a follow up to Exercise Crocodile Smile 1, 2 and 3. He said the exercise will be conducted in Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Delta States.
“Exercise Crocodile Smile 4 is a follow-up exercise to Exercise Crocodile Smile 1,2 and 3. The 6 Division of the Nigerian Army is covering Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers State. The pre-exercise flag off will be held on 25th October 2019.
“The purpose of the exercise is to build on the successes of the past editions by ensuring total security. This will be achieved by identification and clearing of flashpoints of criminal hideouts as well as the destruction of illegal oil bunkering camps”, he said.
He added that the Exercise Crocodile Smile 4 will also include civil-military cooperation in promoting activities such as medical Outreach.
The General Officer Commanding 6 Division of the Nigerian Army urged Governor Wike to sensitise Rivers people to support Exercise Crocodile Smile 4.