In the wake of the ongoing #EndSARS protests, several Civil Society Organizations have made calls on the Federal Government to caution the military on attacking protesters.
The coalition of civil society and rights groups are making this call on the heels of the planned ‘Operation Crocodile Smile VI’ exercise earlier announced by the Nigerian Army.
Over 30 Civil Society Organizations including Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Enough is Enough Nigeria, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in the Nation’s Federal capital have condemned the proposed military exercise which is speculated to be a strategy to scare off protesters.
In another development, reacting to the ongoing protests, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, also noted that the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) would not put an end to police brutality in the country owing to the fact that the recent happenings in the country are a sign of a failing state.
Referring to the order disbanding SARS as treating symptoms of a disease when the root cause was known, the Bishops reiterated that the protests are a result of a system that has not worked for the wellbeing of the people.
The Army had said in a press statement released by its Acting Director, Public Relations, Col. Sagir Musa, that it will commence ‘Exercise Crocodile Smile VI, which is usually conducted to checkmate the activities of criminals across the country during the ember month’s period.
According to the press release, the operation is expected to run from the 20th of October to the 31st of December and it will involve cyberspace operations to counter negative propaganda by criminal gangs and groups on social media across the cyberspace.
The rights group have also unanimously warned that the exercise ‘Crocodile Smile VI would only worsen the distrust of citizens as well as lack of confidence in the state and its institutions.
They coalition of the civil society groups urged the military to withdraw the operation and remain in their barracks to defend the territorial integrity of the nation until the #EndSARS protests is done with.
Nigerian Army says ‘Crocodile Smile’ not for #EndSARS Protesters
The spokesperson of the Nigerian Army has refuted claims that the ‘’Operation Crocodile Smile” that it earlier announced is not with the aim to go after #EndSARS protesters.
In a statement released by Col. Sagir Musa, the Acting Director, Public Relations of the military force, he noted that it is false to say the exercise is targeted at protesters who are out on major cities exercising their constitutional right.
Musa further mentioned that the ‘Crocodile Smile’ is an annual event in the military outfit’s calendar that usually takes place from October to December and that the Nigerian Army has been professional in their conduct since the protest started.
The statement concluded by enjoining all Nigerians to go about their lawful activities unhindered as the Exercise has nothing to do with the #EndSARS protest but a yearly event set out to train officer of the Nigerian Army.