Nigeria faces crucial week as army begins nationwide drills amidst widespread protests
London, Oct. 18, 2020 (AltAfrica)-Nigerian government faces its toughest test this week as Nigerian army announced commencement of a two-month national exercise-drills at a crucial time of widespread demonstrations against alleged police brutality.
Though the army denies the move was part of any security response to recent to quash the restive week long protests but not many are convinced
Operation Crocodile Smile would according the army, run across the country from Oct. 20 to Dec. 31, the first time the annual exercise, typically concentrated in the Delta region, will be nationwide, Musa said.
#PressRelease— Nigerian Army (@HQNigerianArmy) October 17, 2020
NIGERIAN ARMY SETS TO COMMENCE EXERCISE CROCODILE SMILE VI NATION WIDE
This year's Exercise CROCODILE SMILE VI is scheduled to commence from the 20th of October to the 31st of December 2020. Read the full press release here ➡️https://t.co/vsz6aMfeuz pic.twitter.com/naGc8ebnFj
The move comes just days after the army said it was ready to step in and restore order, but army acting Director of Public Relations, Sagir Musa said in a statement that the exercise “has no relationship with any lawful protest under any guise whatsoever”.
Nigerians demanding an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) police unit and pressing for reforms and accountability have been rallying across the country.
The army had on Wednesday issued a statement warning what it termed “subversive elements and trouble makers” that it was “ready to fully support the civil authority in whatever capacity to maintain law and order and deal with any situation decisively”.
Protesters have been using Twitter and the #EndSars hashtag to spread photos and videos showing alleged police brutality. Social media is also a hub for organising demonstrations and Nigerians are using it to collect money and food to feed protesters and support those who are arrested.
Additionally, a group calling itself Anonymous has claimed to have hacked various government websites in recent days, and warned it will continue to hack government websites and Twitter accounts in order to aid the #EndSars movement.
The anonymous hacker group took over the Twitter account of Nigerian Broadcasting Commission as the #EndSARS campaign took another dimension in cyber space.
“We #Anonymous have taken over all the NG Official Twitter’s Account to support #ENDPOLICEBRUTALITY.WE’RE TOGETHER WITH NIGERIANS.EXPECT UNEXPECTED”.
Since then, it has been posting messages critical of the government.
“The army hereby enjoins all law abiding Nigerians to go about their lawful activities unhindered as the exercise has nothing to do with ENDSARS protest, but a yearly event set out by the (army) in its efforts to ensuring safety and security of Nigeria and her citizens,” Musa said in a statement.
However Musa said the exercise would for the first time include cyber warfare training.
“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,” Musa said in the release.