The Nigerian Army has revealed that it has recovered assorted weapons from suspected militants in the Niger Delta.
The Army said it had recovered 55 assorted weapons from the suspected criminals.
Speaking to newsmen in Enugu on Saturdayday, The General Officer Commanding (GOC), 82 Division, Enugu, Maj.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahitu, said that the recoveries were made during the “Operation Crocodile Smile” military exercise.
The GOC 82 Division also disclosed that 23 militants and criminals were killed by soldiers in the bid to flush out criminals in the area.
Maj.-Gen. Attahitu said that many of the criminals escaped with various degrees of injury.
He also disclosed that 38 camps belonging to the militants and 91 illegal refineries were destroyed.
23 Suspected Militants Killed, Others Injured By Military
The GOC also stated that several illegal bunkering sites and underground tunnels used by the suspects, were destroyed in the 10-day exercise.
Maj.-Gen. Attahitu said:
“The precursor operations were followed by `Exercise Crocodile Smile’ proper. Which was orchestrated and conducted with sequencing and lines of operation to upgrade the skills, expertise and competence of the troops in land and riverside environments.
“Over 3,000 soldiers were deployed along two axis on land, creeks and the general littoral area of the Niger Delta region.
“While forward-operating bases were established from where operations were conducted along the creeks and littoral area.’’
The GOC, however, regretted that during the exercise, four soldiers lost their lives.
He explained that three of them lost their lives in a boat mishap while one died during a cross-fire with the militants.
38 Camps of Suspected Militants Destroyed By Military
Maj.-Gen. Attahitu said that the exercise was also used to cement relations with civilians through humanitarian services in neighboring communities.
Maj.-Gen. Attahitu also added that:
“Books, stationeries and generators were donated to some schools while others were given facelift and infrastructure improvement.
“The effects of these humanitarian programs were immediately felt in the peaceful and warmth relationship that existed between troops and local communities throughout the period of the exercise.’’
The GOC also mentioned that relations between the army and other security agencies, including the Navy and Air Force and Police, was “very emphatic’’.
He disclosed that the recent voluntary handover of arms and ammunition by militants and criminal elements in Imo and Rivers had direct bearing with the exercise.
He further assessed the entire exercise as a huge success.