As the commencement of the 2019 general elections begin on Saturday, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai on Wednesday launched the Nigerian Army Situation Room for monitoring of the security situation in the country during and after the elections.
The security situation monitoring Centre located at the Nigerian Army Cyber Warfare Command at AHQ, is expected to operate a round the clock monitoring of suspected flashpoints, violent prone areas as well as the activities of hoodlums who may want to cause crisis or confrontation and put the lives of innocent persons and properties at risk.
Speaking at the launching of the state of the art Situation room which is linked with over 70 Civil Society Organizations and social media platforms across the nation for easy access and collaboration during the elections, the COAS noted that in the event of any outbreak of violence anywhere in the country, the Nigerian Army and other security agencies would be able through the situation room to furnish formation commanders and relevant security agencies on where to go and steps to take to ensure peace and security.
Recalling that the Nigerian Army had earlier launched ‘OP Safe Conduct’ which is one of the series of exercises undertaken to ensure the success of the 2019 General Elections, Lt. General Buratai said, “The Nigerian Army Situation Room has been reconfigured for real-time monitoring of events during the 2019 General Elections.
“It is pertinent to state that the post election violence which characterized previous elections clearly highlights the challenges posed by incidents of electoral violence in the country.
“Hence, the NA saw the need to devise new strategies of stemming such ugly tides or completely eliminating same.
According to him, “Lessons learnt from previous election violence witnessed, have categorized the nature or types of violence into 3 broad categories namely: pre-election violence, violence during elections and post-election violence.
“Violence at the various phases of elections includes thuggery, snatching of ballot boxes and papers or kidnapping or abduction of electoral officers and party agents and wanton destruction of lives and properties, respectively.
“Having observed this cycle of violence reoccur severally in our past electioneering processes, the NA has thus deemed it necessary to adopt a proactive and responsive posture that would allow us to better respond to early signs of insecurity before they could escalate into a major security challenge.
“It is in this light that the NA has launched OP Safe Conduct and also gone ahead to establish this situation room for real-time monitoring.
“At this point, it cannot be overstated that fake news and false propaganda pose a dangerous threat to both the democratic process and military operations.
“The use of media, especially social media to deliberately spread fake news should be a thing of concern to all.
“The rapid spread of fake news has been responsible for misinformation, thereby having an influence on public sentiment and sows confusion among the electorate or even easily ignites violence during the period of the 2019 General Elections.
Consequently he said, “The NA through the Cyber Warfare Command has been continually engaged in monitoring, identifying and countering various forms of fake news and propaganda being put out by terrorists and subversive elements”.
“However, in this period of the elections, there is need to collaborate with all stakeholders to confront the menace of fake news.
“I am happy to note that during my recent meeting with media executives, they pledged to partner with the NA on this issue.
“To further enrich the quality of information during the election monitoring process, the NA would also partner with civil society election monitoring groups and other stakeholders.
“To this end the Nigerian Army wishes to encourage the general public to please forward credible information of security importance via SMS, MMS or WhatsApp to the numbers provided.
“Additionally, the public could utilize the NA Information Call Center short code 193 from any Nigerian network or the NA iReport platform on https://army.mil.ng.
“I hope that our collective efforts would help ensure a smooth and secure conduct of the 2019 general elections” he added.
Acting Commander, Nigeria Army Cyber Command, Brigadier General Thomas Oshogwe Unokhua in his address, explained that the decision by the COAS to set up the situation room tells a lot about the relevance the Nigerian Army places on ensuring the sanctity and security of Nigeria’s electoral process.
He said, “As a stakeholder in safeguarding Nigeria’s democratic principles, the Nigerian Army requires real-time situational awareness regarding the electoral processes in order to be well positioned to respond adequately, should the need arise.
Consequently, the COAS’ initiative in setting up this situation room for round-the-clock monitoring of the electoral processes would go a long way in ensuring that formations of the NA that would participate in ensuring a conducive environment for the 2019 general elections are kept updated with developments in their various Areas of Responsibilities (AORs), as it pertains to issues with security implications.
Continuing he said, “The situation monitoring solution acquired by the NA for this purpose has been designed to avail a clear security situation picture during the electioneering period.
“The solution is well integrated with other civil society groups, NGOs and real-time accredited elections monitoring organizations’ reporting platforms to ensure varied and balanced reporting of security events as they unfold.
“This solution has also been designed to monitor information from various social media platforms blogs, chat rooms, as well as from electronic media for a more encompassing repository of information.
“Additionally, the solution would provide the civil populace an avenue to also send reports relating to security in their localities including any case of wrongdoing or unprofessional conduct on the part of troops deployed to secure and safeguard the electoral process, if any.
Accordingly, the general public is to kindly note that the situation room would be open until the gubernatorial elections have been concluded.
“Hence, the public is encouraged to send credible reports to the various numbers provided to enrich the information received at the backend. Every such information provided would subsequently be treated with the required urgency and relevant feedback provided when necessary.”
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