Operation Crocodile Smile: Oyo NUJ urges Buhari, Buratai to caution soldiers against human rights abuses



The Oyo state council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) on Monday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to instruct the Operation Crocodile troops of the Nigerian Army to ensure that none of the protesting youths is killed or brutalised during their exercise.

Oyo state NUJ in a statement signed by its Chairman, Comrade Ademola Babalola, and Secretary, Comrade Sola Oladapo, also charged 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.

The union said 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.”

The statement reads in parts, “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 it 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.

“We are for the maintenance of law and order. We equally call on the coordinators of the protest to devise means of ensuring that hoodlums don’t infiltrate their ranks to perpetrate evil in the name of protest.The Union is not unaware of the difficulty being experienced by the people of the state as a result of the withdrawal of Okada and public transport vehicles by their owners.

“The gains that will come when we have a new Nigeria will far outweigh the pain we are enduring. We can’t make omelet without breaking eggs, throughout the world, there is no pain without gain.

“Members of the Union who have been joining the rallies and the protest walks since they started will be fully participating in the protest from tomorrow to drive home the message of peace to the soldiers and the protesters.”

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