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Army thrown itself into conflict with EndSARS protesters, starts nationwide exercise Tuesday

There are concerns that the Nigerian Army may have inadvertently thrown itself into open conflict with the EndSARS with the announcement of the commencement of a nationwide exercise named CROCODILE SMILE V1 is scheduled to commence from 20th of October to 31st of December 2020.

Although the Army did not expressly list stopping the ongoing protests as an intended objective, it had on Wednesday night, while responding to the protests, pledged its loyalty to President Muhammadu Buhari and vowed to protect the nation’s democracy “at all cost.”

While directing all its officers and soldiers never to be distracted by “anti-democratic forces and agents of disunity,” the statement, which was criticised by many Nigerians, said that the Nigerian Army “is ready to fully support the civil authority in whatever capacity to maintain law and order and deal with any situation decisively.”

On Saturday, Army, in a statement by its Spokesperson, Colonel Sagir Musa, said part of the military exercise includes “cyber warfare exercises designed to identify, track and counter negative propaganda in the social media and across the cyberspace.”

The mobilization and operations of the End SARS protesters are largely social media driven, meaning that the Army is most likely going to be drawn into conflict with them.

According to the statemen by Colonel Musa, “the Nigerian Army is set to start its annual Exercise CROCODILE SMILE which is traditionally conducted in the last quarter of the year. This year’s Exercise CROCODILE SMILE V1 is scheduled to commence from the 20th of October to the 31st of December 2020.

“The Exercise is deliberately intended to be all encompassing to include cyber warfare exercises designed to identify, track and counter negative propaganda in the social media and across the cyberspace. This is the first ever Cyberwarfare 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 Northeast, North Central and North Western parts of Nigeria.

“The Nigerian Army, once again, reassures all well-meaning Nigerians of its commitment to the sustenance of peace and security in Nigeria and urges members of the public for their support and understanding throughout the period of the exercise.”

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