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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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Zainab Alli Flags Off Campaign Against Gender Based Violence In Otukpo

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As the global campaign against Gender Based Violence (GBV) intensifies, Mrs. Zainab Alli, wife of the Executive Chairman of Otukpo Local Government, Rt. Hon. George Alli, on Friday 4th December 2020, flagged off the campaign in Otukpo.

This was according to a press statement signed by Desmond Oogwu , Special Adviser Media and Gender Affairs.

Mrs Zainab Alli, thanked the First Lady of Benue State, Mrs. Eunice Ortom Ph.D, for throwing her weight behind the campaign agaisnt gender based violence.

Also speaking to women and mothers, drawn mostly from the 13 wards of Otukpo Local Government Council at the Otukpo LG secretariat,   Mrs. Alli further said, “the fight against Gender Based Violence has become more necessary due to the increasing rate of violence against women and the girl child being urging mothers to speak up”.

She said, “As mothers and women, all of you seated here have either been victims of one violent crimes against women at one time or another or you know some someone who was a victim. I urge you all to speak up and liberate someone from hell on earth. Even house helps who are sometimes male or femaile, suffers abuses in different homes too”.

She said the media is replete with stories of gender based violence at home or in the streets and that the greatest weapon of the perpetrators is the silence of mothers. The Chairman’s wife also took the advocacy to St. Monica Girls Secondary where she told the students not to let anyone touch their sensitive body part, adding that should anybody touch them unnecessarily they should raise a cry.

Also, a girls child advocate and human Rights Activist, Mrs. Julie Ooja Okoh, narrated and gave vivid accounts of confrontations with rapists and child molesters as she decried the long and difficult process it takes in order to secure justice for victims against offenders.
“This battle must be fought and we will continue to fight until we win. Even if I die in the process, I don’t care. Another person will continue from where I stopped. Mothers, you have to speak up. Violence against women should never be tolerated as part of culture; it is not. Our mothers and the judiciary are our headache”, she lamented.

Also, another advocate, Mrs. Ene Lech, encouraged women and girls to develop themselves and should always report anybody, including their fathers to the appropriate authorities whenever someone behaves inappropriately around them.

The first Lady of Benue State, Dr Mrs. Eunice Ortom, ably represented by Mr. Tine Agenor, Coordinator, ESLF, in his address remarked that it not only women who suffers domestic violence. He said even men and boys suffer different forms of abuses too. He said people should make the comfort a place of comfort for both the male and the female child.

The Counselor Representing Ewulo ward at the Otukpo Legislative Assembly, also advised the students to take their studies seriously and and should never loose sight of their intended future. The Principal of St. Monica Secondary School, Rev. Sister. Grcae Adikwu thanked the guest for the visit to the school and pray God to grant the team safe trip back to their various destination.

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Nigeria Army Records Success Neutralize Bandits Also Recover Arms

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The Nigeria Army on Friday said scores of bandits were neutralized between 12 to 29 of November, 2020 following activities of Troops of Operation Sahel Sanity in the Northwest Zone.

This was contained in a press statement issued by the acting director, defence media operations, Brig-Gen. Benard Onyeuko.

 11 ILLEGAL MINERS ARRESTED BY TROOPS AT KADAURI AREA ON 22 NOVEMBER 2020
11 ILLEGAL MINERS ARRESTED BY TROOPS AT KADAURI AREA ON 22 NOVEMBER 2020

According to him, on 15 November 2020, gallant troops while conducting routine night patrol came in contact with armed bandits at Yar Tasha Village in Zurmi LGA of Zamfara State. On sighting the troops advance, the criminals immediately started firing sporadically but the troops displayed tactical superiority, closed in and overpowered the bandits with overwhelming firepower.

In the process 3 of the bandits were neutralized, 3 AK-47 rifles with 3 magazines loaded with live rounds of 7.62 mm Special ammunition were recovered by the troops. Some of the bandits however, managed to escape by the skin of their teeth with varying degrees of injuries.

CATTLE RECOVERED BY TROOPS DURING RAID OPERATION ON CATTLE RUSTLERS HIDEOUT AT DANKORI VILLAGE ON 24 NOVEMBER 2020
CATTLE RECOVERED BY TROOPS DURING RAID OPERATION ON CATTLE RUSTLERS HIDEOUT AT DANKORI VILLAGE ON 24 NOVEMBER 2020

Similarly, on 16 November 2020, the gallant troops while acting on credible intelligence about kidnappers activities at Garin Arawa in Tangaza LGA of Sokoto State, swiftly moved to the area and made contact with the criminals. During the encounter, the gallant troops neutralized one of the kidnappers as others escaped in disarray into the bushes owing to troops superior fighting prowess. In the aftermath of the encounter, troops recovered one AK-47 Rifle mounted with a magazine and one motorcycle.

Also in another development, on 21 November 2020, troops conducted a robust clearance Operation and assaulted bandits enclaves at Mararaban Kawaye and Gobirawa villages in Safana LGA of Katsina State respectively.

The gallant troops encountered initial resistance at Gobirawa but successfully over-powered the bandits. In the aftermath of the encounter, 6 bandits were neutralized while 4 AK-47 Rifles, 3 Dane guns and 2 motorcycles were captured. Troops continue to crackdown on the nefarious activities of the bandits and other criminal elements in the general area.

Furthermore, on 21 November 2020, troops acting on timely information smashed a bandit’s syndicate hideout at Galadi village in Shinkafi LGA of Zamfara State. During the operation, 2 bandits were neutralized. A meticulous cordon and search by the troops led to the recovery of 2 AK-47 Rifles in the hideout.

 SUSPECTED BANDITS COLLABORATORS ABDULMUMINI MAIDOKA, LAWAL ABDULLAHI AND SANUSI ABDULLAHI ARRESTED BY TROOPS AT MAJAFA VILLAGE ON 12 NOVEMBER 2020
SUSPECTED BANDITS COLLABORATORS ABDULMUMINI MAIDOKA, LAWAL ABDULLAHI AND SANUSI ABDULLAHI ARRESTED BY TROOPS AT MAJAFA VILLAGE ON 12 NOVEMBER 2020

In the same vain, on 22 November 2020, troops conducting farm patrol along Gidan Ruwa axis of Zurmi LGA of Zamfara State, came into contact with some marauding bandits. On sighting the advancing troops, the suspects fired sporadically in an attempt to escape. Nevertheless the resilient troops pursued them with heavy volume of fire leading to the neutralization of one of the escaping bandits and recovering of one AK-47 Rifle loaded with 29 rounds of 7.62mm Special ammunition in the process.

Accordingly, in other operations conducted, on 12 November 2020, troops deployed at Forward Operation Base Faskari during a routine patrol arrested 2 suspected bandits’ collaborators named Lawal Madawaki and Hassan Ali at Gobirawa village in Faskari LGA of Katsina State. Furthermore on 13 November 2020, troops acting on credible Information arrested 3 suspected bandits’ collaborators named Abdulmumini Maidoka, Lawal Abdullahi and Sanusi Abdullahi at Majafa village in Kankara LGA of Katsina State. Suspects were apprehended in connection with alleged involvement in banditry activities in the general area.

Additionally, troops during a raid operation at an identified bandits associates’ hideout at Maikano village in Jibia LGA of Katsina State arrested 2 suspects named Lawal Danladi and Rane Bello.

 2 AK-47 RIFLES MOUNTED WITH MAGAZINES RECOVERED BY TROOPS DURING RAID OPERATION  AT GALADI VILLAGEN ON 21 NOVEMBER 2020
2 AK-47 RIFLES MOUNTED WITH MAGAZINES RECOVERED BY TROOPS DURING RAID OPERATION AT GALADI VILLAGEN ON 21 NOVEMBER 2020

Equally, on same day, troops acting on a tip off arrested a suspected bandits collaborator named Bello Ardo at Yargoje in Kankara LGA of Katsina State. Suspect was arrested following credible Information about his unwholesome activities with suspected bandits in the area.

 ARMED BANDIT NEUTRALIZED BY TROOPS DURING CLEARANCE OPERATION AT GOBIRAWA VILLAGE ON 21 NOVEMBER 2020
ARMED BANDIT NEUTRALIZED BY TROOPS DURING CLEARANCE OPERATION AT GOBIRAWA VILLAGE ON 21 NOVEMBER 2020

In another development, on 22 November 2020, troops raided an illegal mining site at Kadauri area in Maru LGA of Zamfara State and arrested 11 suspected illegal miners. Furthermore, on 24 November 2020, following credible information, troops busted a cattle rustlers camp at Dankori village in Mani LGA of Katsina State leading to the arrest of 3 suspected cattle rustlers while 300 cows were also recovered at the scene.

Similarly, on 28 November 2020, troops while on routine border patrol intercepted and apprehended 4 suspected armed robbers dressed in military camouflage inside a Honda vehicle at Macrine village in Yelwa LGA of Kebbi State. All arrested suspects have been handed over to appropriate authorities for prosecution.

 ONE OF THE BANDITS NEUTRALIZED BY TROOPS DURING CLEARANCE OPERATION AT GOBIRAWA VILLAGE ON 21 NOVEMBER 2020
ONE OF THE BANDITS NEUTRALIZED BY TROOPS DURING CLEARANCE OPERATION AT GOBIRAWA VILLAGE ON 21 NOVEMBER 2020

He said in summary, in all the operations conducted between the period 12 – 29 November 2020, 12 armed bandits were neutralized, 11 AK-47 Rifles and 3 Dane guns were captured. Furthermore, 8 suspected bandits collaborators and 11 illegal miners were arrested. Equally 4 suspected armed robbers and 3 cattle rustlers were nabbed by troops while 300 cows were recovered during the operations.

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Insurgency: Buratai Harps On Collective Action, Citizen’s Participation

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The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai, says a collective effort from citizens is required to put an end to the insurgency in the North-East.

According to the Army chief, it would take the combined actions of both civilians and the military to win the war against terrorism.

Buratai said this on his verified Facebook page on Tuesday.

He wrote, “There is general misunderstanding of what insurgency and terrorism entail. There is likelihood of terrorism persisting in Nigeria for another 20 years. It only depends on the level of escalation and the appropriate responses by all stakeholders both civil and military authorities.

“Also by both local and international actors. Citizens’ responsibility is equally important and imperative. All must cooperate to contain the lingering insecurity. Let there be collective action and responsibility.”

Similarly, former Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof Usman Yusuf insisted that the security situation in the country calls for collective efforts from all Nigerians.

Speaking with Arise News on Wednesday, Yusuf said, “The government and all Nigerians must agree that things are not working and the government must involve the people . The way security is done in this country is that things come from Abuja without involving people. We are in big trouble, the insecurity in this country has increased in recent times with killing of people, raping our women, cattle being rustled, and villages burnt. Its high time the federal government puts this nation on war footing and mobilise every body”.

Yusuf also suggested that communities and the military should train the youths to fight against killings, kidnapping and banditry.

“No nation can call itself secure if it does not have control of it’s airspace, waterways and highways and forests,” he said.

“We cannot be secure and will only be deluding ourselves if we think things will change and if we should continue like this. Everybody must sit up and know that security is not for the government and military alone but ours. I have friends in the United States of America who are from Somalia who call me and say they are worried about Nigeria because this is the way Somalia started and look at where we are today.

“ When we speak, it’s not that we are against the government, we brought them in, and they must do what we ask. If government doesn’t protect us, then it’s of no good to us. I call on every Nigerian to speak up”.

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