The Nigerian Army has denied claims that its exercise ‘Crocodile Smile’ is targetted at #EndSARS protesters.
In a statement released by Army spokesman Sagir Musa said “This year’s Exercise CROCODILE SMILE is scheduled to commence from the 20th of October to the 31st of December 2020 has no relationship with any lawful protest under any guise whatsoever.”
“For the records, Exercise CROCODILE SMILE is a yearly exercise in the NA Calendar/Forecast of Events which traditionally holds from October to December of each year.”
Nigerians protesting against brutality, extortion, harassment and extrajudicial killing by police personnel have consistently marched in different states to register their agitation for close to two weeks.
The protesters in major Nigerian cities, calling for a reform of the Nigeria Police.
Many groups condemned the timing of the exercise and believed it will lead to the violation of citizens’ right to peaceful protest.
Yoruba, Niger Delta and Igbo groups said the deployment of troops to stop #ENDSARS would be treasonable and urged President Muhammadu Buhari to desist from such moves.
The Army spokesman, however, dismissed the allusions saying there were baseless.
“To now insinuate that it is an exercise meant to stifle the ongoing ENDSARS protest is to say the least highly misinformed,” Musa said, “Exercise CROCODILE SMILE VI has nothing to do with the ongoing protest and the NA has never been involved in the ongoing protest in any form whatsoever. So far, the army has acted professionally since the civil protest started over two weeks ago.
“The army hereby enjoins all law-abiding Nigerians to go about their lawful activities unhindered as the Exercise has nothing to do with ENDSARS protest, but a yearly event set out to train NA officers and soldiers in its efforts to ensuring safety and security of Nigeria and her citizens.” The statement read.