The Nigerian Army on Saturday said no fewer than 399 suspects were arrested for various offences during the Exercise Crocodile Smile 2 in Lagos and Ogun States.
The 35 Artillery Brigade Commander, Brig.-Gen. Bassey Adonkie, disclosed this while giving an appraisal of the exercise during the closing ceremony of the Crocodile Smile 2 at 192 Battalion, Ajilete, Ogun State.
He said the Crocodile Smile 2 was aimed at flushing out pipeline vandals, kidnappers and miscreants.
“The exercise led to the arrest of suspects including armed robbers, kidnappers and recovery of ammunition.
“So far, a total of 399 suspects were arrested for different offences across as the South-West region and handed over to various security agencies concerned.
“In addition, 20 assorted arms were recovered, while illicit drugs were also recovered and handed over to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA),” he said.
The commander, who said over 1,000 officers participated in the exercise, added that criminal activities had reduced following the crackdown which denied the hoodlums freedom of action.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, who was represented by the Chief of Training and Operations, Maj.-Gen. David Ahmadu said that the exercise leveraged on the gains of the Crocodile Smile 1.
“Experience drawn from the exercise conducted in 2016 revealed that criminals and miscreants do flee from areas of ongoing operations to seek safe haven and cause security menace in areas hitherto regarded as peaceful.
“It was in line with this development, that I deemed it necessary to extend the areas of coverage for this year’s exercise crocodile smile, to cover the South-West and South-South regions of the country,” he said.
He said that the closing ceremony should not be regarded as the end of the exercise and urged the men to sustain the tempo of the operation.
“The army places premium on training and thus Exercise Crocodile Smile is one of the training activities embarked on to sharpen the skills of personnel in the conduct of operation,” he said.
He said that the exercise was a joint operation conducted with other sister agencies, adding that it improved comradeship, inter-agency cooperation and synergy.
The General Officer Commanding (GOC), 81 Division, Maj.-Gen. Peter Dauke, in his opening remark, said that the exercise was flagged off by the chief of army staff on Oct.7.
“The exercise was designed to develop and enhance professionalism among units, foster relationship and synergy among participating services, security agencies.
“It was also designed to improve the overall planning and conduct of internal security operations in combating prevalent security challenges.
“It is gladdening to note that the exercise was able to mitigate prevalent security challenges such as reduction in pipeline vandalism, militancy, ritual killings, smuggling, kidnapping and drug-related offences amongst others,” he said.
The GOC said troops were exposed to the rudiments of administration in the field, operational staff work and battle map marking during the operation.
“It is pertinent to note that all these activities were done in collaboration with other sister services with each playing its statutory roles in internal security duties,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a medical outreach was rendered to the Ajilete community by the army to commemorate the closing ceremony of the Crocodile Smile 2.
Free eye test, health talks and other medical services were rendered to over 100 residents in the area.
Present at the closing ceremony were senior military, para-military officers.