By Okodili Ndidi, Abuja
The Federal Government may deploy soldiers to check further breakdown of law and order by suspected hoodlums who have infiltrated ongoing #ENDSARS protests, The Nation has learnt.
It was reliably gathered all the General Officers Commanding the various Divisions have been briefed and waiting for orders to deploy combatant officers and soldiers to quell the protests within their respective areas of Command.
The Nation gathered reliably the planned launching of the Operation Crocodile Smile VI is not a mere coincidence but a ploy to conceal the deployment under the annual military special operation.
It was reported the protest has taken violent dimension in some states and the Federal Capital Territory, resulting in deaths, looting and destruction of vehicles and other property.
In Abuja, on Saturday night, the protesters barricaded the Gudu area of the FCT with bonfire and dispossessed stranded drivers and other road users of their valuables, including monies, phones and laptops while some of the trapped vehicles were vandalised.
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Apparently in response to the growing violence across the country, the Military announced the former launching of Exercise Crocodile Smile VI.
Acting Director Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, in a statement, disclosed the Operation will be launched on October 20 and will run through December 30.
He said the Exercise is: “Deliberately intended to be all encompassing to include cyber warfare exercises designed to identify, track and counter negative propaganda in the social media and across the cyberspace. This is the first ever Cyber warfare exercise to be conducted in the history of the African Armed Forces.
“Accordingly, the exercise will also include positive identification component aimed at identifying Boko Haram terrorists fleeing from the North East and other parts of the country as a result of the ongoing operations in the various theatres of operations especially in the Northeast, North Central and North Western parts of Nigeria.
“The Nigerian Army, once again, reassures all well- meaning Nigerians of its commitment to the sustenance of peace and security in Nigeria and urges members of the public for their support and understanding throughout the period of the exercise”.
But The Nation findings, revealed that the FG’s plan to deploy soldiers on the street, has polarised the Military High Command, with a section vehemently opposed to the decision, which they argued may further inflame the already charged situation.
A highly placed Military Officer, who didn’t want to be mentioned because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, confided in our Correspondent that it is better to keep the military out of anything related to the #EndSARS protest as it is stretched thin by the war against Boko Haram and banditry.
He said: “Although in the Military, we respect chains of Command and the President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, I still think the land to deploy soldiers to quell the protest under any guide, is not the right call. I still believe that political solution should be adopted”.