The Nigerian Army says its ‘Operation Crocodile Smile’ which is kicking off across the country this week is not targeted at the #EndSARS protests.
A statement issued by the Army Spokesperson Musa Sagir on Saturday noted that the exercise, scheduled to commence from October 20, to December 31, 2020, has no relationship with any lawful protest under any guise whatsoever.
“For the records, Exercise Crocodile Smile is a yearly exercise in the Nigerian Army calendar/forecast of events which traditionally holds from October to December of each year,” the statement read in part.
“To now insinuate that it is an exercise meant to stifle the ongoing EndSARS protest is, to say the least highly misinformed. Exercise Crocodile Smile (VI) has nothing to do with the ongoing protest and the NA has never been involved in the ongoing protest in any form whatsoever”.
Colonel Musa stressed that the exercise was deliberately intended to be all-encompassing to include cyber warfare operations.
The cyber-warfare operation, he stated, was designed to identify, track, and counter negative propaganda on social media and across cyberspace.
“This is the first-ever cyber warfare exercise to be conducted in the history of the African Armed Forces.
“Accordingly, the exercise will also include positive identification component aimed at identifying Boko Haram terrorists fleeing from the North East and other parts of the country as a result of the ongoing operations in the various theatres of operations, especially in the North East, North Central, and North Western parts of Nigeria,” the statement said.
The army spokesman reassured all well-meaning Nigerians of the commitment of the Force to the sustenance of peace and security in the country.
He also urged members of the public to show support and understanding throughout the period of the exercise.
This is coming at a time of nationwide protests both on social media and in the streets, demanding an end to police brutality
The peaceful protests which have, however, been met with pockets of violence and even killings, have continued to gain momentum despite efforts by the government to bring it to a halt.
Many Nigerians have, therefore, criticised the exercise over fears that it is another tactic to clamp down on protesters.