Officers and men of the 2 Brigade of Nigerian Army led by Brig. Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, on Thursday, came out to clean up the Akpandem Market in Uyo as part of activities marking the launch of the Operation Crocodile Smile IV in the area.  Brig. Gen. Lagbaja said the exercise was part of the civil/military relationship building.

He added that the army would continue to ensure peace and harmony with the civil society.

He said, “What you are witnessing this morning is environmental sanitation in continuation of our Operation Crocodile Smile IV.

“We will relate with the civil populace; we will relate with every stakeholder and it is on the basis of this relationship that we have come here this morning to clean the environment, especially this market.

“It is a show of military support to the civil populace that we are working to take care of their needs. The Operation Crocodile Smile IV is a military exercise that will be driven by intelligence. So, it serves two purposes.

“First, is to assist in training our troops for their day-to-day activities; and second, it has an intelligent head. Based on intelligence that we will receive from sister agencies like the Department of State Services, the police and other agencies, we will act to apprehend criminals and economic saboteurs, who operate in the general environment.

“We have population influencing activities like environmental sanitation, and tomorrow (Friday), we are going to have a medical exercise. We will go into schools and carry out sensitisation.”

The Chairman, Akpandem Market, Mr Nseabasi Ndoh, commended the Nigerian Army for maintaining a cordial relationship with the civilian population by cleaning up the market in spite of its core engagement.

He stated, “The army spokesman called me on Wednesday and told me that soldiers were coming to clean up the market; I thought he was joking. By 6am, they were here.

“They came with large number of their men and they have assisted us to clean the market.”

To sustained cleanliness in the market, he said that the Market Committee had set up a Sanitation Taskforce that would checkmate the dumping of refuse in the market to keep it clean.

A trader at the market, Mrs. ImaAbasi Ukpong described the gesture by the Army as worthy, called on other security agencies in the state to emulate same.

She said, “What the military is doing is very impressive, it is a good lesson for others security agencies and we, the civil society to emulate.”