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Soldiers, youths may clash as army rolls out Crocodile Smile Tuesday

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The stage may be set for another showdown between the youth and security agents, this time round with the military, as the Nigerian Army has announced its intention to launch Exercise Crocodile Smile IV on Tuesday.

A statement signed by the Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Sagir Musa, which was made available to journalists on Saturday, said the operation would commence from the 20th of October to the 31st of December 2020.

This is coming when youths protesting in many parts of the country against police brutality and demanding an end to all forms of injustice in the last two weeks are yet to be pacified to stop the street demonstration and blocking of vital roads and operational areas.

There were hints last week that the military might be called upon to halt the street protests which had been causing hours of gridlock and disruption to socio-economic activities in Lagos, Abuja and other major cities in the country.

The statement said, “The Nigerian Army is set to start its annual Exercise Crocodile Smile which is traditionally conducted in the last quarter of the year. This year’s Exercise Crocodile Smile V1 is scheduled to commence from the 20th of October to the 31st of December 2020.

“The Exercise is deliberately intended to be all encompassing to include cyber-warfare exercise designed to identify, track and counter negative propaganda in the social media and across the cyberspace.

“This is the first ever cyberwarfare 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 North-East, 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 a former senator and rights activist, Shehu Sani, said it was a dangerous coincidence that the Army’s operation would be staged when the youth were still protesting.

A group of civil societies, in a reaction to the issue, has also warned against drafting in the soldiers to quell the peaceful protests by the youth.

The group made up of 16 societies said in a statement released in Abuja on Saturday that such action posed a serious threat to the peace of the society.

The coalition said, “We reject in its entirety the move to draft in the military to quell the protests, even where there has been no violent conduct on the part of protesters.

“The military should remain in their barracks and at their duty posts, defending the territorial integrity of the country, and not deployed in a dangerous anti-people and anti-democratic operation to crush a people who are exercising their right to freedom of association, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly.”

Those that are part of the group are listed as the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD-West Africa), Enough is Enough (EIE), Partners for Electoral Reform, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), YIAGA Africa, Global Rights, among others.

Sani, in a tweet, warned that “the Army should not intervene to crush peaceful protesters,” adding that “we have enough bandits and insurgents in our forests and deserts that need their attention.”

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Buhari presents 2023 budget proposal of N20.5tn to National Assembly

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday presented 2023 appropriation bill of N20.5tn to the National Assembly, the last budget to be put together by his administration before bowing out of office in May 29 next year.

He made the budget presentation to the joint session of the National Assembly at the temporary chamber of the House of Representatives.

The National Assembly had earlier approved the medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) and fiscal strategy paper (FSP) — parameters on which the 2023 budget will be framed.

Buhari said the 2023 transition budget was designed to address critical issues and lay a solid foundation for the incoming administration.

Christened ‘Budget of Fiscal Consolidation and Transition’, the President said the revenue generation should reach about N16.87tn.

A breakdown of the budget shows that N744.11bn was earmarked for statutory transfers; N8.27tn for non-debt recurrent costs; N1.1tn for overhead costs, and N5.35 trillion for capital expenditure.

Buhari said, “We expect the total fiscal operations of the federal government to result in a deficit of N10.78tn.”

“This represents 4.78 per cent of estimated GDP, slightly above the 3 percent threshold set by the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007.

“As envisaged by the law, we need to exceed this threshold considering the need to continue to tackle the existential security challenges facing the country.”

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Eid-el-Maulud: FG declares Monday public holiday

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Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola

The Federal Government has declared Monday public holiday to mark this year’s Eid-ul-Mawlud celebration in commemoration of the birth of Prophet Muhammad.

Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, who made this declaration on behalf of the Federal Government, congratulated all Muslims both at home and in the Diaspora for witnessing this year’s occasion.

Aregbesola, in a statement signed by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Shuaib Belgore, on Thursday, admonished Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of love, patience, tolerance and perseverance which are deep spiritual virtues and which Prophet Muhammad exemplified, adding that doing so would guarantee peace, security and harmony in the country.

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The statement read in part: “Ogbeni Aregbesola enjoins Nigerians, particularly Muslims, to refrain from violence, lawlessness and other acts of criminality.

“As the indisputable leader of our race, we must demonstrate responsible leadership in Africa.”

He urged Nigerians to be security conscious, asking them to report any suspicious persons or activities to the nearest security agency and through the N-Alert application on Android and IOS, saying “when you see something do N-Alert, as this would elicit prompt response from security agents.”

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Bombs were going off frequently in cities when I came in – Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari has said he inherited a country with bombs detonating frequently in cities of Nigeria.

He disclosed this during the passing-out parade and inauguration of cadets of regular Course 69 of the Nigerian Defence Academy, NDA, in Kaduna on Thursday.

He, however, said his administration had been able to manage the country’s security crisis since assuming office in 2015.

“When this government came in 2015, we inherited a country at a crossroads with bombs going off with frightening frequency even in our cities, and we came in to manage the crisis,” he said.

Buhari called on the cadets to replicate the spirit of social cohesion they learned at the NDA and be incorruptible models to society.

He stressed that the cadets emerged in the era of expanding global security threats.

A total of 239 cadets, including those from sister African countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Niger Republic, Chad, and Uganda are passing out from the Academy as junior military officers.

Among the dignitaries present are service chiefs and the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali; Senate President Ahmed Lawan; the governors of Niger and Kaduna States, as well as National Assembly members.

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