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By Sunday Isuwa, Abuja, Anayo Onokwugha, Port Harcourt, Okechukwu Obeta, Anambra and Salihi Abubakar Bello, Kano

The Nigerian Army said yesterday that it decided to embark on Operations Python Dance 11 and Crocodile Smile 11 in the South East and South South geopolitical zones of the country in order to tackle the rising challenges of militancy, kidnapping and pipeline vandalism.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, stated this while speaking at the executive session of the ongoing 13th All Nigeria Editors’ Conference (ANEC) in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

He said the ongoing Operation Mesa in Northern states and the Middle Belt is aimed at tackling challenges of cattle rustling, herdsmen-farmers clashes and kidnapping.

Buratai, who was represented by the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Major-General Enobong Okon Udoh, said the exercises are aimed at focusing the personnel to relative professional scenarios as against stimulated training sessions.

He said, “The core value that emanate from professionalism and responsiveness in my own opinion include training, welfare, operational exigencies, logistics, civil-military cooperation, interagency cooperation and observance of human rights.

“Typical examples of pillar of professionalism and responsiveness are the exercises that the Nigerian Army has been conducting in all established areas in the country. These exercises are aimed at focusing the personnel to relative professional scenarios as against stimulated training situations.

“Exercise Hadi Kunama 11, which took place in Southern Kaduna and Samgore forest in Kaduna respectively, the clearing operation in Niger and Zamfara States as well as the forthcoming Exercise Crocodile Smile 11 and Exercise Egwu Eke, which is ongoing are typical examples.

“More of such exercises are being planned to tackle existing security challenges in the country. The challenges of cattle rustling, herdsmen-farmers clashes and kidnapping in some Northern states and the Middle Belt are being tackled through the conduct of Operation Mesa.

“In the same light, the challenges of militancy, kidnapping and pipeline vandalism in the Southern part of the country have been accorded adequate attention in the Nigerian Army order of service.”

In his presentation,  Senate President Bukola Saraki said the a total of 259 bills have so far been presented to the 8th Senate, out of which 147 have been read for the third time and passed into law.

Saraki, who was represented by the chairman, Senate Committee on Media, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, said a total of 143 bills have passed through the second reading, while 11 others were harmonized, with 14 rejected.

Meanwhile, responding to LEADERSHIP Weekend enquiries, Army spokesman, Sani Kukasheka Usman, said Nigerians will be informed when the Operation Crocodile Smile will commence in the Niger Delta region.

“You will be informed at the appropriate time”, Usman said while responding to question on when the operation will commence.

Anambra APC Commends FG For Proscribing IPOB

Meanwhile, the Anambra state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has commended the federal government for proscribing the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) led by Nnamdi Kanu.

Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdul Adamu Kafarati, had based on an exparte application brought before him by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), made an order proscribing IPOB on the ground that the organisation is a terrorist group.

APC, in a press statement issued yesterday in Awka by the state publicity secretary, Mr. Okelo Madukife, congratulated the federal government for securing the order of the court to proscribe IPOB and urged parents, guardians and youths in the South East to comply with the order to avoid the consequences of disobeying the court.

IPOB Members Who Attacked Hausas Must Be Apprehended – Sanusi II

Meanwhile, the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, has said that members of IPOB who attacked Hausa communities in the South East must be arrested and prosecuted.

In his Friday sermon, Emir Sanusi reminded the security agencies that it remains a duty to protect the lives and properties of every Nigerian anywhere, including protecting the lives of Muslims who are threatened and allegedly attacked in the Southern part of the nation.

Sanusi II intensified calls to fellow Muslims to desist from rumours, act of wickedness and avoid harming the harmless, as Allah abhors such practice.

He said, “We are aware of what was happening to our dear Muslim brothers and sisters in the Southern part of the country. We are reminding ourselves that Islam is a religion built on holding on to pledges. Islam is a religion built also on trust.

“Every believer living amongst us is a beneficiary of such pledge and trust. Muslims are ordained by Allah to hold on to trustworthiness and keeping promises”.

According to him Allah has instructed Muslims to fulfill to promises made in good faith and must not disregard the pledges just because of an ill motive to win over other interests or people of different faith.

He quoted the tradition of Prophet of Islam as reported by famous Islamic scholar, Abu-Hurairah which says “whoever kills any soul among those he pledges to live together and in peace shall not smell the pleasant perfume of paradise”.

Muhammad Sanusi reminded that the Christian brothers and sisters residing in Kano are direct beneficiaries of the pledges and trust and it is forbidden to stage an attack on their lives and properties.

Don’t Reintroduce Operation Crocodile Smile, PANDEF Tells Military

The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) yesterday asked the military authorities not to reintroduce operation crocodile smile in the area.

In a statement issued by its coordinating secretary, Dr. Alfred Mulade, PANDEF said there has been relative peace in the Niger Delta region, following the understanding reached with aggrieved agitators who have consistently demonstrated the primacy of dialogue and peaceful resolution of conflicts rather than destruction of oil and gas assets in the region.

Mulade said, “PANDEF therefore is of the strong opinion that whatever actions on the part of government that will undermine this much desired hard earned peace process should be discouraged. It is on this premise that PANDEF was taken aback by the announcement of the Director of Army Public Relations, Brig- General Sani Usman, of the readiness of the Nigerian Army to Launch ‘Operation Crocodile Smile 11’ in the Oil-rich South-South Region, just as ‘Operation Python Dance’ was being deployed in the South-East zone of Nigeria, which has elicited mixed reactions from wide range stakeholders.

“Whilst it is not  the position of PANDEF to challenge operational deployments of Nigerian soldiers in any part of the Nigeria in accordance with best practices and rules of engagement, and without prejudice to the constitutional  role of the  Military in a democratic setting, we however observed that this contemplated deployment of the ‘Operation Crocodile Smile 11’ is certainly misadvised, especially at this time when the region is gradually coming to terms with the urgent need for sustaining the relative peace in the region”.

The statement added that the previous launch of the ‘Operation Crocodile Smile’ in the Niger Delta last year left in its trail bitter tales of woes, including harassment, destruction of helpless communities and  killings of innocent persons.