By Emma Amaize
WARRI—DELTA Ijaw Women Initiative, DIWI, yesterday, urged the Nigerian Army to keep soldiers away from the riverine communities, as women in the oil communities require development and peace, not Operation Crocodile Smile that military authorities plan to launch in the South-South and parts of South-West.
President, DIWI, Mrs Ebimaye Bebenimibo, who stated this in Warri, Delta State, while reacting to a statement by Director, Army Public Relations, Brig-Gen Sani Usman, that the army was set to launch Operation Crocodile Smile II, in the South-South and some parts of the South-West, said that the women will rather prefer the army to launch Operation Massive Development in the oil region.
Her words: “What the women in the riverine communities need now is development, peace and empowerment, not an atmosphere of chaos and tension that the army and other security agencies are planning to unleash on them.
“We are, therefore, calling on the relevant authorities, especially the Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, to ensure such exercise does not take place in our riverine communities to the detriment of the good and law-abiding people of the Niger Delta, especially those in the riverine communities. They (the army) should, therefore, keep away from our riverine communities.
“It is a known fact that the last time the army carried out Crocodile Smile in the riverine communities, it left the women in tears and with a painful experience, especially with the wrongful arrest of 10 youths, who were from one of the riverine communities.
“Imagine the trauma those women had to go through until their innocent children were later released. Those Delta Ijaw women are yet to recover from that last incident and now the army is again set to carry out another of such exercise, thereby heightening their fears.
“We, the Delta Ijaw women believe that rather than the army carrying out such exercise, they and the relevant authorities should garner all of their energies to see to the smooth take-off of certain projects in the riverine communities, one of which is the Nigeria Maritime University, NMU, Okerenkoko with its take-off campus at Kurutie town in Gbaramatu Kingdom, the Gbaramatu Deep Sea Port and the Escravos Export Processing Zone, EPZ.”