The 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, has solicited the support of Rivers’ residents to its operation, code-named ‘Exercise Still Water’ in four South-South states.
The operation was launched on Oct. 4 to end kidnapping and illegal bunkering in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers.
The Garrison Commander of the division, Brig.-Gen. Mohammed Danja, told newsmen, on the sideline of a town hall meeting with communities in Emuoha Local Government Area, that the operation required the people’s support to succeed.
Danja said the army organised the meeting to partner and educate residents on the essence of the joint security operation in their communities.
“The joint security exercise was set up understanding that during ’ember’ months crime and criminality increase, posing danger to lives and property.
“This is why the idea was conceived to provide a platform that would secure law-abiding citizens and their property during the ember months.
The commander said that security forces had already been deployed in communities in the four states to rout criminals from their hideouts.
He said: “Exercise Still Water will last for three months during which we hope to identify and put to check all forms of kidnapping, illegal bunkering and militancy, among others.
“Troops will also curb all other shades of activities that are inimical to security of lives and property and activities that affect economic development of the area.
“To achieve this, we identified that collaboration with the civil society and the communities was key to a successful exercise, hence we are here to listen to each other.”
Danja called on residents to provide useful information that would help the troops to succeed, assuring them that their identity would be kept in utmost confidentiality.
He promised that the division would investigate the allegation by Chief Marcus Atata, the Chairman of Rumdele Council of Chiefs, that herders were destroying their farmland.
According to the commander, the army would meet with the herders’ leadership in the area to broker peace and prevent possible clashes between the two groups.
Earlier, the Chairman of the council, Dr Chidi Lloyd, commended the army for organising the meeting and promised that the council would support the exercise.
He urged residents to cooperate and support security operatives to identify known and unknown kidnappers and persons dealing in illegal bunkering in the area.
Lloyd warned some chiefs in Emuoha communities, allegedly collaborating with oil thieves to sabotage oil and gas facilities in the area, to desist forthwith.
Highlight of the meeting was the presentation of at least 20 repentant cultists in the area to the garrison commander.
NAN reports that the exercise will end on Dec. 23 and involves the Army, Navy, Air Force, Police and Department of State Service, among others.
Representatives of the security agencies delivered lectures on “Security Awareness Sensitisation” at the meeting. (NAN)