Nigerian soldiers are deployed and blocking the scene of the planned #EndSARS protest in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
Some of the military officers set up the popular Aya roundabout early Monday morning with a roadblock and barricade.
In addition, the police officers are stationed with an armoured personnel carrier and water cannons in front of the headquarters of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The demonstrators had braved the rain on Sunday evening and camped overnight outside CBN headquarters to protest against the police brutality and extrajudicial killings.
The Nigerian army said on Sunday that its “Operation Crocodile Smile”, which will be launched nationwide this week, was not aimed at the #EndSARS protests.
Army Spokesman Musa Sagir said in a statement on Saturday that “the attention of the Nigerian Army (NA) has been drawn by some media to the announcement of the CROCODILE SMILE VI exercise, in particular the cyber warfare component of the exercise, which unfairly cond
“This year’s CROCODILE SMILE exercise is scheduled to start from 20 October to 31 December 2020 and is not related to any legal protest under any cover.
“For the record, the CROCODILE SMILE Exercise is an annual NA Calendar/Preliminary Events exercise which traditionally takes place from October to December each year.
“Therefore, it is, to say the least, very misinformed to suggest now that it is an exercise aimed at suppressing the ongoing protest of the ENDSARS. The CROCODILE SMILE VI exercise has nothing to do with the ongoing protest and the NA has never been involved in any way in the ongoing protest. So far, the army has acted professionally since the beginning of the civilian protest more than a fortnight ago.
“The army orders all law-abiding Nigerians to carry out their lawful activities without hindrance, as the exercise has nothing to do with the ENDSARS protest, but is an annual event designed to train NA officers and soldiers in their efforts to ensure the security of Nigeria and its citizens.
Colonel Musa stressed that the exercise should intentionally include cyber war operations.
The cyberwarfare operation is designed to identify, track and combat negative propaganda in the media and cyberspace.
“This is the first cyber warfare exercise in the history of African armed forces.
“Accordingly, the exercise will also include a positive identification component aimed at identifying Boko Haram terrorists fleeing from the Northeast and other parts of the country as a result of ongoing operations in the various areas of operations, particularly in the Northeast, North Centre and North West of Nigeria,” the declaration said.
The army spokesman assured all well-meaning Nigerians of the troops’ commitment to maintaining peace and security in the country.
He also urged the public to show support and understanding throughout the exercise.
This comes at a time of national protests in the media and on the streets demanding an end to police brutality.
However, peaceful protests, which have encountered violence and even murder, have gained momentum despite the government’s efforts to stop them.
As a result, many Nigerians have criticised the exercise, fearing that it is another tactic to suppress demonstrators.
Meanwhile, in Benin, there is a report that Protesters have broken into Benin prisons to release prisoners
Protesters around King’s Square in Benin City, the capital of the state of Edo, demolished the walls of the Nigerian prison (Nigerian prisons in Benin).
After entering the prison through the fence, the demonstrators released inmates from the prisons along Benin’s Sapele Street near the office of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ).