Nigerian troops

Ayorinde Oluokun/Abuja

The Nigerian Army on Saturday said it will begin its annual operation tagged ‘Exercise Crocodile Smile’ nationwide on Tuesday.

The announcement comes as protests against police brutality and poor governance spreads across the country,

The sudden announcement by the Army of the exercise which usually involves large deployment of troops and weapons, will surely be interpreted as a move to use soldiers to stop the #EndSARS protests which is gaining support across many town and cities of the country.

But in an obvious anticipation of such insinuations, the Army, in a statement by its Acting Director of Public Relations, Sagir Musa, emphasized that Exercise CROCODILE SMILE is traditionally conducted in the last quarter of the year.

He added that this year’s Exercise is scheduled to commence from the 20th of October to the 31st of December 2020.

But the assertion in the statement that the 2020 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 will also likely raise a red flag.

This is because #EndSARS protesters rely on the social media for coordination of their activities and spread of information to those who want to join the protests.

“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,” Musa said in the statement.