As men of the Nigerian Army take over the streets across the country in name of Operation Crocodile Smile, the Oyo State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to instruct the troops to ensure that none of the protesting youths is killed or brutalised during the exercise.
The NUJ made the call on Monday in a statement signed by the state chairman, Comrade Ademola Babalola and secretary, Comrade Sola Oladapo, urging the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, to direct his men to exercise utmost caution and ensure adherence to citizens-friendly rules of engagement.
Comrade Babalola reminded the soldiers that the ongoing nationwide protest, which started as a clamour for the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), is not just about police reform but also about getting those in leadership positions to heed the call to make the country a better place for the citizenry.
“We wish to recall that in July this year, 385 soldiers wrote the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Buratai that they are resigning from the Army over what they called loss of interest and very low morale. These soldiers are not deserters from the auxiliary. They soldiers had been deployed to face better-equipped insurgents in the North-East.
“The soldiers deployed for Operation Crocodile Smile, in our view, should protect the protesters and ensure no harm is done to them. The situation in the country is so sad that if affects us all, including the soldiers themselves, with the exception of the class of the ruling elite which may be considered immune from the hardship in the land.
“While we acknowledge the fact that the military operation is an annual event, having been held in October last year, we counsel that the Federal Government ought not to have deployed soldiers for the same exercise this year, especially against the background of the tensed situation occasioned by the protest.