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Crocodile Smile: Human Rights Groups Dispel Fear About Nigerian Army’s Efforts to Counter Threats

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The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups (CHRMG) has assured Nigerians of maximum safety throughout the Nigerian Army’s operation ‘Crocodile Smile’ which it says is targeted at criminals. 

CHRMG’s coordinator, Abubakar Gana, gave this assurance on Monday at a press conference in Abuja ahead of the start of the exercise. 

Gana said the annual operation has no connection with the ongoing #EndSARS protests in the country, contrary to the misconception by “some distractors and tattlers of fake news”. 

In his words, the ‘Crocodile Smile’ is “targeted at the identification of fleeing Boko Haram terrorists from the hot theatre of war in Northeast, but are sneaking into other parts of Nigeria to cause atrocities”. 

He added that the ” exercise has also progressed into the first-ever cyber warfare exercises packaged to identify, track, and counter negative propaganda in social media and in the cyberspace, which is a potent weapon of terrorists in warfare”. 

According to the human rights group, the exercise is an “expression of the Army’s unflagging commitment to the peace and security of Nigeria, which it has always upheld responsively and responsibly, in patriotic flavour in the last five years”. 

Gana assured that troops will continue to respect their fundamental human rights and act professionally as they have always done under Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. TY Buratai. 

He added that “Nigerians can attest that the Nigerian Army’s leadership under Gen. Buratai has zero-tolerance for unprofessional conduct, acts of indiscipline and human rights violations by Army personnel”. 

CHRMG, however, pleaded with Nigerians to discountenance and discard the misinformation and fake news, especially on social media platforms on Exercise Crocodile Smile VI.

Read the full statement below:

The Coalition of Human Rights Monitoring Groups (CHRMG) welcomes the members of the fourth estate of the realm to this press conference. We thank Almighty God for the gift of life and His grace upon our beloved country, Nigeria is facing the multiple challenges of nationhood.

CHRMG finds it imperative to address Nigerians on the Nigerian Army’s conduct of the special edition of Exercise Crocodile Smile VI nationwide set to commence in the next 24 hours. We perceive the exercise as an expression of the Army’s unflagging commitment to the peace and security of Nigeria, which it has always upheld responsively and responsibly, in patriotic flavour in the last five years.

But since the Nigerian Army announced the conduct of Exercise Crocodile Smile VI, slated to commence October 20, 2020, to December 31st, 2020, rumour mongers, detractors and blackmailers have gone out to town with assorted inanities and conjured fals intent on discrediting the timely exercise as we approach the yuletide season as well as instilling fears and panic in Nigerian.

Most laughably, some Nigerians have even linked the Exercise Crocodile Smile VI to the #EndSARS protests in the country and attempted to poison the minds of Nigerians over this yearly routine exercise of the Nigerian Army. But no amount of blackmail and unjustified negative profiling of the Nigerian Army and operations will deter them from performing their constitutional duties.

From our vantage position as watchdogs of the society, CHRMG is assuring Nigerians that it will mobilize monitors and evaluators to observe the conduct of the exercise throughout the country as part of our democratic rights to hold our leaders accountable to us. We shall not blink on this sacred obligation to our compatriots.

But we have no iota of doubt that based on the splendid track records of the Nigerian Army in numerous special assignments on Internal Security (IS) operations, all law-abiding citizens be assured of their maximum protection and safety throughout the exercise, except criminals. We say this confidently and the misgivings about it are misplaced or out of tone with confirmable reality.

The year 2020, a  special version of the Exercise Crocodile Smile VI as disclosed by Army authorities is expansive. Its gamut includes an identification component, targeted at the identification of fleeing Boko Haram terrorists from the hot theatre of war in Northeast, but are sneaking into other parts of Nigeria to cause atrocities. The exercise has also progressed into the first-ever cyber warfare exercises packaged to identify, track, and counter negative propaganda in social media and in the cyberspace, which is a potent weapon of terrorists in warfare.

The detractors mischievously ascribing a novel status and other inordinate reasons for the conduct of the Exercise Crocodile Smile VI are confessed enemies of Nigeria, who seek and pray for the continued destabilization of the country in perpetuity. But Nigerians conversant with the operations of the Nigerian Army under the leadership of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and leader of the counter-insurgency operations, Lt. Gen. TY Buratai knows, the Army has launched both the Nigerian Army Secured Information Platform (NASIP) which is fused into the Nigerian Army Cyber Warfare Command (NACWC) server.  

The NASIP is powered by strong storage capacity. And the commitment of public resources into its upgrade is to fight cyber warfare.  It is the Army’s years of preparedness to confront the hydra-headed monster of Cyberspace terrorism and other allied matters. The Exercise Crocodile Smile VI streams from this background.

Previous such exercises by the Nigerian Army have always conformed to the highest tenets of respect for the fundamental human rights of citizens everywhere in Nigeria.  The Exercise Crocodile Smile VI is no different! It is expected that this special edition of the Exercise Crocodile Smile VI will also adhere strictly to the highest standards of human rights compliance set by the COAS Gen. Buratai.

Nigerians can attest that the Nigerian Army’s leadership under Gen. Buratai has zero-tolerance for unprofessional conduct, acts of indiscipline and human rights violations by Army personnel. In the last five years, the Nigerian Army has remained a stickler to Rules of Engagement (ROE) and strictly observes global best practices in safeguarding the human rights of Nigerians in all its operations.

Therefore, CHRMG is pleading with Nigerians to discountenance and discard the misinformation and fake news, especially on social media platforms on Exercise Crocodile Smile VI.  It is a ploy by armed criminals to frustrate the exercise, hence it is targeted at apprehending them.

We cannot deny that Nigeria is troubled by senseless acts of insecurities almost everywhere in the country. So, every Nigerian genuinely concerned about the peace and security of the nation should welcome Exercise Crocodile Smile VI. Those seeking to divert attention from the authentic agenda and target of the exercise are the criminals and armed gangs tormenting law-abiding citizens with violence and bloodshed.

The Nigerian Army is only concerned with cleansing the land of bad elements to make Nigeria a proud place of inhabitation. Those afraid are the criminals, armed gangs, their conspirators, accomplices and proxies.

It is senseless to put the cart before the horse. The detractors claiming Exercise Crocodile Smile VI is soldier’s witch-hunt of Nigerians and pre-emptying the Army of the likelihood of abusing human rights of citizens may have to reexamine themselves and their conscience.  

As earlier promised, CHRMG’s monitors and evaluators will keep an eagle eye on the conduct of the Exercise Crocodile Smile VI to ensure no extant law is breached or human rights of citizens violated whatsoever. And where it occurs, the group will not hesitate to inform Nigerians and the relevant authorities as well as seek for justice where necessary.  

We wish you journey mercies to your various destinations and may God bless and protect the Nigerian Army, and its leadership for the wisdom of the patriotic duty; may God bless Nigeria. Thank you all.

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Lekki Shooting: CNN Carried Out A Hatchet Job On The Army – International Journalists

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The report by Cable News Network (CNN) on the shooting at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos was a “poor” hatchet job targeted at the Nigerian Army, the International Institute for Investigative Journalism (IIIJ) has said.

In an electronic statement signed by special rapporteur, Francois Deburoiche, on Wednesday, the IIIJ said it came to this conclusion following a careful investigation on the events that led to the escalation of violence at the toll gate.

After forensic analysis of CNN’s report, the International Institute for Investigative Journalism noted that there were some missing details in the American television channel’s piece.

According to the institute, the report was carried out in poor taste, lacking professionalism and objectivity. It added that the claim of use of live bullets and testimonies of victims were all tales.

The institute, however, advised the television channel to retract and admit error in the documentary.

Read the full statement below:

The International Institute for Investigative Journalism is issuing this press statement with the best of intents after a careful investigation on the events that led to the escalation of violence at the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos Nigeria during the EndSARS protest.

A team of investigative journalists with extensive experience in conflict situation interrogated the various claims made by the American Cable News Network in its report on the Lekki Shootings and came up with a comprehensive analysis that found gaps that were not filled in the CNN documentation of the events at the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos Nigeria.

Our statement:

The CNN documentary on the EndSARS protest in Nigeria was released to the general public with lots of inaccuracies. These accuracies were detected after an extensive forensic investigation by the International Institute for Investigative Journalism.

It is thus our opinion that the report was carried out in the poor taste, lacking in professionalism and objectivity. This is a great betrayal on journalism by the CNN, which indeed violated the known tenets of journalism.

The videos and images used in the CNN report were not subjected to adequate scrutiny. Consequently, it lacked credibility for use by an organization of repute such as the CNN. This fact was also buttressed by the fact that the CNN report was very hasty in its conclusion by indicting the Nigerian Army of culpability in the events at the Lekki Tollgate.

Our position remains that the CNN erred substantially in its report that was highly misleading to the general public in Nigeria and other parts of the world. The documentary also failed woefully to highlight the events that led to the reign of violence in parts of Lagos state but instead rehashed the issues under different subheadings with minimal evidence that indicts the Nigerian Army of wrongdoing at the Lekki Tollgate.

The International Institute for Investigative Journalism concludes that the CNN documentary was prejudiced in its analysis as well as presentation which fall nothing short of a poor hatchet job with the undeniable intent to discredit the Nigerian Army operation at the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos Nigeria.

The analysis by CNN in the documentary was hasty in its categorization with regards to the use of live bullets by soldiers at the Lekki Tollgate. The report attempted to portray the use of excessive force by soldiers, while the accompanying videos and images did not depict such.

The credibility of those interviewed in the documentary was also suspect with the choice of words and the facial and body expressions of the victims as well as their relatives. Thus much was revealed by forensic analysis as the emotions portrayed didn’t match their words.

Conclusion:

The International Institute for Investigative Journalism is of the considered opinion that the CNN carried out a hatchet job that is targeted at the Nigerian Army institution. We as a result of this classify the CNN documentary as highly misleading and with the capacity to cause disquiet in Nigeria.

The CNN must retract and admit error in submission in its documentary on the Lekki Tollgate shootings. The International Institute for Investigative Journalism faults the CNN documentary in all ramifications.

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Why Army is Boosting Land Power, Buratai Speaks at War College Lecture

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The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, has said that the Army War College Nigeria (AWCN) has continued to churn out highly-capable operational commanders, with a very good understanding of operational art and the requisite skills for the effective application of land power.

Buratai, was the special guest of honour at the ‘Graduation Lecture’ of Course 4/2020, in Abuja. The COAS, who had earlier commissioned the War College Office Extension Building, further said the building is made up of offices, Central Auditorium with 450 seating capacity, a lecture hall and a lounge with 180 and 120 seating capacity, respectively.

According to Lt. Gen. Buratai, the War College was conceived to address the observed gaps in the professional military education of Army’s personnel at operational level. The Commandant of AWCN, Maj. Gen. SE Udounwa, expressed gratitude to the Army Chief for tirelessly supporting the College, especially in the area of infrastructural development.

The AWCN was established in 2017 to bridge the gap between the tactical and strategic level training by producing well trained, educated and inspired operational level leaders for the Nigerian Army.

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Army Neutralize 23 Terrorists, 6 Soldiers Wounded

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Troops of Operation Fire Ball, a subsidiary of Operation Lafiya Dole, has neutralized 23 Boko Haram/ISWAP while one terrorist’s Improvised Explosive Device (IED) expert was captured alive during a recent encounter.

The operations in the last 3 weeks of this month according to Brig. Gen. Benard Onyeuko has proved to be a significant period against the criminals during which 2 women and 3 children were rescued unhurt while the gallant troops courageously intercepted some Boko Haram criminals while attempting to collect ransom from relations of their abducted victims leading to the decimation of the criminals.

The Ag Director Defence Media Operations revalealed that as a result of the aggressive offensive actions carried out by the troops, several terrorist elements have been neutralized and large number of their equipment were captured including large quantity of their logistics consignment intercepted by the gallant troops.

Items intercepted are; 4 Gun Trucks, one Fabricated Vehicule Blinde Leger, 2 Anti Aircraft Guns, one General Purpose Machine Gun, 2 PKT Guns, 8 AK 47 Rifles, 2 AK 47 Rifle Magazines, one AK 47 Rifle Cover and one Dane Gun.

Furthermore, large cache of ammunition were also captured. This include: 18 rounds of 7.62 x 51mm, 4 rounds of Brownie Machine Gun ammunition, one Rocket Propelled Grenade Tube, One 36 Hand Grenade, 23 belted rounds of 7.62 x 54, One QJC Extra Barrel, 311 rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammunition (Linked), 511 rounds of PKT ammunition, 8 rounds of Light Machine Gun ammunition, One Service Tools Box,

One gas cylinder (for making IED), 8 bicycles, several bags of grains and assorted packets of drugs. Other assorted non lethal items were also captured from the criminals.

Unfortunately, Onyeuko said, 6 gallant soldiers were wounded in action over the period. However, the wounded soldiers have since been evacuated to a military medical facility and are currently responding positively to treatment.

He assured the entire populace of the North East region of the Nigerian military high command determination to finally rout the remnants of Boko Haram/Islamic State’s West Africa Province criminals from their enclaves in this zone.

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