The Nigerian Army has warned all criminal elements in Ondo State to desist from their nefarious activities and surrender illegally acquired weapons or face the wrath of security agencies.
Maj.-Gen. Anthony Omozoje, General Officer Commanding 2 Division, Ibadan, gave this warning at the flag off ceremony of Exercise Crocodile Smile lV on Wednesday at Okitipupa, Ondo State.
Omozoje, represented by Brig.-Gen. Thomas Ogunsugba, said it had become imperative for all criminals in Ondo State, especially southern part of the state to shun crime or face the full wrath of the law.
He said: “It is in this light that exercise crocodile smile lV is being flagged off today in Okitipupa/Igbokoda southern parts of the state.
“The exercise is part of the Nigerian Army constitutional role of acting in aid of civil authority in combating various security threats faced by the affected parts of the state.”
Omozoje listed the prevailing security challenges in the area to include, kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism and pipeline vandalism.
He added: “Criminal elements in the state are hereby warned in their own interest to desist from their nefarious activities and surrender illegally acquired weapons or face decisive and appropriate actions by the security agencies.”
Omozoje, who said that the exercise was designed to be inter- agency and inter-service driven, urged participants including NPF, DSS, NSCDC, Customs, Immigration, NDLEA and the Prisons Service to work as a team and maintain the existing synergy among them.
“To the participants, as you are aware, the Nigerian army has zero tolerance for human rights abuses. Respect the rights of law abiding citizens as you carry out your assigned tasks.
“You must adhere to the code of conduct and rules of engagement guiding the conduct of the exercise, which has been issued.
“To the people of the state, I implore you to contribute your quota to the success of this exercise by volunteering information that can assist the brigade to realise the objectives of the exercise.
“To members of the fourth estate of the realm, please endeavour to verify information from the appropriate authorities to avoid fake news that can jeopardize the success of the exercise,” he admonished.
Omozoje lauded the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, for his immense support, direction and encouragement in the efforts of confronting the numerous security challenges facing the country, especially Ondo State.
In his welcome address, Brig. Gen. Zakari Abubakar, Commander, 32 Artillery Brigade, said that the exercise was to check the various security challenges prevalent in the southern part of the state.
Abubakar said that the exercise would prevent stockpiling of arms and ammunition by criminals and assured that the brigade would continue to collaborate with other agencies to achieve the vision of the COAS.
In his speech, the state governor, Chief Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Ifedayo Abegunde, pledged to support any operation towards securing the lives and property of the people.
Akeredolu urged the people to partner with security agencies to reduce crime, adding that government would not relent in its efforts to protect them, especially during yuletide.