*As Army launches ‘Crocodile Smile’
Nigeria minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has condemned the allege attack on Osun State governor, Mr. Gboyega Oyetola by hoodlums masquerading as #End SARS on Saturday at Olaiya junction in Osogbo, the State Capital.
He cautioned however that the federal government would be firm against acts of lawlessness to protect the nation from sliding into anarchy by “dark forces”.
The minister stated this at Weekend File of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) on Saturday evening.
He explained that “No responsible Government could do what the Government has done” by acceding to the 5-points demands of the protesters including the scrapping of Special Anti-Robberry Squad unit of the Nigeria police Force and setting up of victims support Funds for victims of Human rights abuse, judicial panel of police brutality/ inquiry on extra-judicial killings across the Federation as it concerns the contentious issues by #End SARS protesters.
He said: “No responsible Government will fold its arms and watch the Country walk into anarchy. What is going on now is beyond peaceful and legitimate demands. Rather, some people want to seize this opportunity (#End SARS protest) to destabilize the Government. They have been waiting for this opportunity.
According to him, “peaceful protest is an integral part of democracy. But, the way things are going right now, there is no doubt that the protest has been hijacked…They started with 5/5 demands, now they have increases it to 7/7 demands”.
He alleged that a lot of lives have been lost to the ongoing #End SARS agitation, adding that “there was a particular situation I think on Friday whereby a pregnant woman died in Ambulance because the roads were blocked”.
“When you want to protest, take it to a motor park where it will not disrupt movements. Where your rights stops, that is where another man’s rights begins. Remember that Schools are resuming on Monday”, he declared.
Mohammed further explained that the #End SARS protest was being used as a smokescreen by its sponsors to discredit President Muhammadu Buhari Government.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army has said it would commence Exercise Crocodile Smile VI from October 20 to December 31, as part of its effort to enhance the safety and security of the Country.
This was contained in a statement titled, ‘Nigerian army sets to commence exercise Crocodile Smile VI nationwide’, and signed by Acting Director Army Public Relations, Sagir Musa, on Saturday.
The Crocodile Smile VI is coming amidst nationwide protests against police brutality, extortion, and extrajudicial killings.
Musa said the exercise was traditionally scheduled in the last quarter of every year to checkmate all forms of crimes and criminality as the end of the year approaches.
He explained that this year’s exercise was intended to be more all-encompassing to include cyber warfare exercises designed to identify, track, and counter negative propaganda in the social media and across the Cyberspace.
The statement read, “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 VI 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”, the Army stressed.
But, Nigerians have expressed anger over abuses by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad operatives and have taken to the Streets.
The #EndSARS hashtag started on social media after a video showing what looked like a SARS officer attacking a man spread online.