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Crocodile Smile: Oduduwa Foundation Hails Nigerian Army Over Launch of Internal Security Exercise

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The Oduduwa Integrity Foundation (OIF) has welcomed the launch of the operation ‘Crocodile Smile’ by the Nigerian Army, describing it as “timely” at a period the corporate existence of Nigeria is under threat.

With the #EndSARS protests taking a violent twist after reportedly being hijacked by individuals and groups against the interest of the nation, the Oduduwa group said the operation will counter all such emerging threats.

The army announced on Friday that its annual exercise will commence on Tuesday to identify, track and “counter negative propaganda” in the social media and across the cyberspace.

The operation, which is the first ever cyber warfare exercise to be conducted in the history of the African Armed Forces, will also include identification component aimed at identifying Boko Haram terrorists fleeing from their base.

National President, Kunle Salau, speaking at a press conference on Sunday in Lagos said it is pleased that the exercise will be conducted nationwide unlike in the past when it was limited to certain geo-political zones.

He, however, challenged the troops to fish out the cyber arm of Boko Haram, IPOB and their collaborators who take to social media space to spread falsehood.

The Oduduwa Integrity Foundation further called on the army to track virtual payments and financing of questionable activities to destabilize Nigeria as well as the recent trend of hacking of government websites.

While calling for maximum support from Nigerians, the OIF urged troops to resist the provocation that they will naturally come across in the course of this exercise.

Read the full speech below:

Gentlemen of the press, you would have learnt that the Nigerian Army has commenced Exercise Crocodile Smile VI, which will take place across the country beginning this month till December 31 of this year. We invited you here today to make our stance on the exercise known to Nigerians so that they can properly respond to the exercise.

The exercise is timely as it is coming at a time when the corporate existence of Nigeria is under intense attack by enemies of the country with the latest being the #EndSARS protests that have now been taken over by persons that are known to have in the past attempted to use mob action to undermine the incumbent government. When taken against the background of certain developments that were first flagged before the 2019 General Elections, it becomes apparent that a lot has to be done and achieved by the exercise.

Since the last exercise, Nigeria now faces the risk of the diverse terrorist groups collaborating and they are reportedly wooing the hardcore persons among the protestors to make their acts of terrorism metropolitan. The Boko Haram terrorists fleeing a punishing war in the northeast could also sneak to other parts of the country to form cells in their bid to unleash a nightmare scenario on the country. The exercise is equally a chance for the Army to take on the bandits, killer herdsmen and kidnappers that have been tormenting certain parts of the country.

These potential gains from the exercise make us appreciative of the Army and this is in addition to other good things we see in it. First, we are pleased that the exercise is being conducted nationwide unlike in the past when it was limited to certain geo-political zones with peculiar security appraisals. It is our firm belief that experience from the previous editions of the exercise will be brought to bear in executing Exercise Crocodile Smile VI. The other parts of the country will benefit from the exercise like other states have in the past.

Secondly, we are joyous that the Army is including a cyber component that will track terrorists to their most recent hideout, which is online. We are confident in the cyber capabilities of the Army and its proficiency in deploying the same to counter emerging threats to Nigeria’s existence while also equipping itself for a future that is increasingly becoming digital. In this, we have specific demands to the Nigerian Army:

Several groups had in the past raised alarm about the activities of the cyber wing of Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists who hide behind the unanimity of the cyberspace to promote terrorist propaganda. Exercise Crocodile Smile VI should decisively smoke out these persons and by implication cut off the cyber and propaganda support that has remained pivotal to Boko Haram’s ability to rebound each time it is dealt with.

The terrorist group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) cyber unit should be disbanded in the course of this round of Exercise Crocodile Smile VI. The strength of many terrorist organizations and their criminal collaborators has been the taunting statement frequently issued by nebulous personalities, which we know to be a pseudo name or nom de guerre. The cyber component of the exercise should be able to unmask those that have been stoking dissension and hatred against the Nigerian state.

We have also seen an explosion in virtual payments and financing of questionable activities to destabilize Nigeria. As seen with the #EndSARS protesters who are being financed by multiple interests that are out to destroy Nigeria, Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are being used to fund the protests and also to pay for terrorists’ activities in the northeast. Other countries have robust policies for dealing with cryptocurrencies and we believe Exercise Crocodile Smile VI should trigger the momentum to evolve a policy to this effect. But as a stop-gap measure, the Nigerian Army should use the cyber component of the exercise to mitigate the damage being done to Nigeria by the use of cryptocurrencies, which are well-documented catalysts for crimes perpetrated from the dark web. They are a new threat to nations.

The Army should use the exercise to address the recent threats against Nigeria’s digital assets like the hacking of websites belonging to MDAs as part of the #EndSARS protest. While global hacktivist group, Anonymous has claimed responsibility, we believe that the instructions to hack these digital assets are from Nigeria here and the digital footprints that tie the hackers to those who issued the instruction would help unmask those responsible for them.

We further realize that another thing that is different from when the Army held past editions of the exercise is the presence of the COVID-19 Pandemic. We expect that the Army will not suspend its medical outreach on account of the pandemic. Rather, people need medical assistance now more than ever. The exercise should therefore not omit the well-cherished medical component from the exercise.

Meanwhile, we appeal to the Nigerian Army to impress on its troop the need to resist the provocation that they will naturally come across on this exercise. We state this from past instances of IPOB mounting propaganda against the Army and even having its fighters physically confronting soldiers for them to have multimedia documentation of supposed harsh handling of their situation by the military. The ongoing #EndSARS protests and its anticipated mutations in the weeks ahead will similarly provoke troops in other for them to accuse the government of the day of repression. The Army must avoid falling for this booby trap.

We call on all Nigerians particularly those in the south-west geo-political zone to support the Nigerian Army in the maintenance of internal security in the country. Nigerians must be wary and prepare for the expected negative criticism of the exercise by those who are afraid that the Army would end their reign of terror when the exercise is successfully conducted.

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Bandits Lay Siege To Armed Forces Command And Staff College, Jaji

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Some criminals, suspected to be bandits, are currently laying siege around the premises of Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC) located in Jaji, Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

Their mission, according to some locals in the community who spoke to our correspondent during a telephone conversation, was to abduct some staff of the college and the communities around the area.

This is coming in less than two months after bandits stormed the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, Mando, also in Kaduna and kidnapped no fewer than 39 students.

AFCSC is a training facility for the Nigerian Armed Forces, including the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force and Nigerian Navy.

A resident of the area, who simply identified himself as Adamu, told Daily Trust via telephone that the bandits have always surrounded the institution while terrorising the communities around the college.

“It is only Allah that has been saving us. They (bandits) have always rustled cows in our communities. Military operatives do engage them in gun battle anytime they come around, that is why we don’t have major casualties yet,” Adamu said.

The Commandant of the college, Air Marshal Olayinka Alade, confirmed this on Wednesday in Abuja when he visited the Army Headquarters to brief Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Attahiru Ibrahim, on the development and other issues in the institution.

Alade said the institution has decided to launch impromptu searching and clearance operations in some communities where the bandits are operating around the college having informed General Officer Commanding 1 Division.

“There are some communities around the school that have developed and because it is like part of the college, maybe they are hiding under that cover, so some bandits are there. Because of that, there is collaboration with other institution’s heads in the college. Constantly, we try to conduct an impromptu searching. We conduct search and patrol from time to time.

“What we discovered now is that, not too far ahead, some communities… it is like all these bandits have made all that place their aim, so I discussed with GOC 1 Div. From time to time, we need to carry out clearance operations,” the AFCSC Commandant said.

The Commandant further disclosed that the bandits rustled some cows behind the college on Tuesday, April 13 – a development that led to gun duel between them and the military operatives.

He, however, did not disclose whether there was any casualty, noting that he came to brief the COAS so as not to be surprised if he hears anything subsequently.

According to him, “In fact, yesterday (Tuesday), I was told that some bandits came to come and rustle some cows just behind us. There was an exercise that was carried out by the NACI. They actually encountered these bandits, they had to exchange fire during the exercise.

“Those are the things we’re trying to ensure that we are not surprised if they have come that close, then, we need to sit tight and ensure we clear that place.”

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$1bn Arms Procurement: Clear Your Name Now, Coalition Charges Defence Minister

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The Coalition for Truth and Justice (CTJ) has called on the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magashi, to clear his name from the controversial purchase of security equipment.

The group noted that Magashi must explain how his ministry expended the $1billion approved by the Federal Government in April 2018.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday in Abuja, national coordinator, Timothy Charles, described the minister’s silence as “unholy” and an “embarrassment” to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Charles said the group is alarmed that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen. Attahiru Ibrahim is carrying out acts to shield the minister.

The Coalition for Truth and Justice, therefore, advised the COAS to be bold enough to stand by the truth instead of being clever by half and attempting to insult the sensibilities of Nigerians.

The group also urged all well-meaning Nigerians to demand that the minister comes out clear by providing facts and details on arms procurement under his watch.

While absorbing the former service chiefs of any involvement, the Coalition for Truth and Justice added that Magashi must come clean for Nigerians to take the FG more seriously in its quest to address the security challenges in the country.

Read the full statement below:

The Coalition for Truth and Justice, a non-governmental organization in Nigeria dedicated to the entrenchment of transparency and accountability in governance in Nigeria, welcomes you all to this important press conference that is intended to address some of the pertinent issues that have surrounded the $1 billion released for the purchase of arms in the prosecution of the war against terrorism and other acts of criminalities across the country.

We must agree that these issues are of great importance to the well-being of the country at large, given the country’s security challenges in recent times as well as the government’s efforts in addressing these challenges.

It is common knowledge that the Muhammadu Buhari administration had in April 2018 approved the release of $1 billion to Nigerian Defence authorities for the purchase of security equipment to fight insecurity in the country under the purview of the Ministry of Defence.

Thus, it is pertinent to state that since the coming of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, arms purchases have been domiciled with the Ministry of Defence and not individual services as erroneously projected in the public space.

It is also succinct to state that the Honorable Minister of Defence, who is in charge of the Ministry of Defence, should provide answers to questions surrounding arms purchase in the country. It is thus despicable that there has been some well-orchestrated attempt by some vested interest to divert attention from the Minister of Defence.

We are constrained to add that the statement credited to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, during his appearance before the House of Representatives is diversionary and an indication that he is carrying out the whims and caprices of the Honorable Minister of Defence.

The Coalition for Truth and Justice views the recent happenings as a sad development in the sense that as a high ranking officer of the Nigerian Army and one who is conversant with the operational procedures in the Nigerian Military would elect to feign ignorance to an issue as sensitive as arms purchase in the prosecution of the war against terrorism in the country.

We are aware that the Ministry of Defence is responsible for arms purchases and the unholy silence of the Honorable Minister of Defence in this regard leaves many questions unanswered. This is also an embarrassment of unimaginable proportion to the Muhammadu Buhari administration that the Honourable Minister of Defence cannot articulate a response to the questions surrounding the monies meant for arms purchase.

The Coalition for Truth and Justice uses this medium to call on the Honorable Minister to come out clear by providing the much-needed information surrounding the $1billion released to purchase arms.

If this is not the case, we then wonder why the Honorable Minister of Defence has elected to play to the gallery in a case as sensitive as this. More alarming is that the Chief of Army Staff has been carrying out acts that aim to shield the Honorable Minister of Defence.

The Coalition for Truth and Justice frowns at such display and wishes to advise the Chief of Army Staff to be bold enough to stand by the truth instead of being clever by half and attempting to insult the sensibilities of Nigerians.

We are constrained to add that if the Chief of Army Staff who has barely spent months in office would not be bold enough to call a spade a spade, we are afraid that his ability to lead the prestigious Nigerian Army is indeed questionable.

It is also curious that the Chief of Army Staff could ask that the past service chief be invited to answer questions on arms procurement during their tenures. This is indeed an anomaly that all well-meaning Nigerians must resist.

This also goes to the Honorable Minister of Defence, who, by his actions, has displayed that he does not have a grasp of the operational strategies of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

It is our considered opinion that the Honorable Minister of Defence must, as a matter of necessity and urgency, provide the general public details on how the $1billion was expended under his watch in the spirit of transparency and accountability.

The Coalition for Truth and Justice calls on all well-meaning Nigerians to demand that the Honorable Minister of Defence come out clear by providing facts and details on arms procurement under his watch.

Therefore, it would be inexcusable for the Honorable Minister of Defence to continue to shy away from his responsibilities by pushing a distractive narrative in the public space. And not until this is done, the government’s seriousness in the prosecution of the war against terrorism would always be called to question.

The general public must also be aware that the former service chiefs were never involved in arms procurement and must do good to ignore the well-orchestrated campaign in this regard. Consequently, the Honorable Minister of Defence must come out to clear the air if we are indeed serious in addressing the security challenges in the country.

This is the position of the Coalition for Truth and Justice as critical stakeholders in the entrenchment of transparency and accountability in governance in Nigeria.

We thank you for your time and charge all present to take this message to their various constituencies.

God bless Nigeria.

God bless the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Thank you.

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UK Group Task Ibomites to Support Their Leaders

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The people of Akwa-Ibom state have been urged to celebrate their own rather than castigating leaders who have sacrificed for the development of their region.

The president General, Global Peace Movement International UK, Dr. Mike Uyi made this declaration in a statement on Thursday in London.

According to him, the people of Akwa-Ibom should see themselves as a region in Nigeria that are lucky to have a leader like the former governor of the state, Godswill Akpabio now minister of Niger Delta.

He said, “People of Akwa-Ibom state should learn to celebrate what they have. For any reason whatsoever, Sen. Godswill Akpabio is a palm tree, an iroko which is known by every native and international farmer”.

“Akpabio is tested and trusted. As commissioner, Governor, Senator, now a minister of Niger Delta, he performed excellently and still have outstanding performance among his minister counterparts. So, why attack him?”.

Uyi said assessing Akpabio’s political journey so far, one will not be wrong to call Akpabio a successful politician because of his antecedents.

“If not for anything else, he puts Akwa-Ibom state in the Guinness book of record. The state or region is currently enjoying what Akpabio left on the ground”.

“Global Peace Movement International UK is saying clearly that the future of Nigeria is in Akwa-Ibom”.

Dr. Uyi said Akpabio’s progressive portfolio has added a label (GSM) to his personality. The label GSM stands for: Governor (G), Senator (S) and Minister (M).

“His starling performance can not be compared to any in the history of democracy in Nigeria and in Akwa-Ibom state since the creation of the state”.

Uyi further stated that Akpabio has long transcended state or regional barriers. “His sole motivation has been raising the standards of living of Nigerians, promoting the good image of the country and empowering ordinary citizens of Nigeria to not only pursue their dreams but more importantly in providing them with the means to achieve these dreams”.

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