“It’s to shut down protests” – Nigerians react as Army launches Operation Crocodile Smile VI

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Reactions have begun to trail the Nigerian Army’s announcement of the launch of its annual Exercise, Crocodile Smile to be conducted nationwide from October 20 to December 31.

Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Sagir Musa noted in a Saturday statement that this year’s Crocodile Smile VI would include cyber warfare exercises designed to identify, track and counter negative propaganda on social media and across cyberspace.

He added that it would be the first-ever cyber warfare exercise to be conducted in the history of the African Armed Forces.

Musa further explained that the exercise would also include positive identification component aimed at identifying Boko Haram terrorists fleeing from the North East to other parts of the country.

He explained that the terrorists were fleeing the ongoing counterinsurgency operation in the region.

Although the Army’s statement emphasised that the exercise was usually conducted in the last quarter of the year, many Nigerians who took to social media expressed fears the exercise was aimed at shutting down ongoing anti-police brutality protests across the nation.

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For nearly two weeks, Nigerian youths have taken to the streets to demand an end to harassment, maiming and killing of hapless citizens by policemen.

Various efforts by the Federal and state governments to get the protesters off the streets have failed, fuelling fears the army’s exercise was aimed at forcefully suppressing the protests.

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