The Nigerian Army says it is about to begin a two-month nationwide operation, but denies it is in response to widespread demonstrations against alleged police brutality.
- Nigerians have been protesting against police brutality for the past week
- The demonstrations were sparked by a video allegedly showing police officers shooting a man
- Police initially responded to the demonstrations with force
People across Africa's most populous nation have been demonstrating for more than a week
The rallies were sparked by a video that is circulation which allegedly showing police officers in Delta state shooting a man and driving away.
Police have denied involvement.
Protesters have demanded an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) police unit and have pressed for reforms and accountability.
When the protests first began, police responded with force, using tear gas, water cannons and live rounds.Police say the military exercise has no relationship to any "lawful protest".( Reuters: Temilade Adelaja )
At least two people have been killed during demonstrations in Lagos and at least three in Oyo state. Amnesty International has said at least 10 have been killed nationwide.
Police spokesperson Sagir Musa said the new national military exercise had "no relationship with any lawful protest under any guise whatsoever".
"The Army hereby enjoins all law-abiding Nigerians to go about their lawful activities unhindered as the exercise has nothing to do with the ENDSARS protest, Mr Sagir said in a statement.
The operation, Crocodile Smile, will run across the country from October 20 to December 31.
It will be the first time the annual exercise, which typically takes place in the Delta region, will be nationwide.
The news follows the Army on Wednesday (local time) issuing a statement warning "subversive elements and trouble makers" it is "ready to fully support the civil authority in whatever capacity to maintain law and order and deal with any situation decisively".
Protesters using social media to spread #EndSars movementThe SARS police unit has developed a reputation for brutality, with Amnesty International accusing it of harassment, extortion, rape, extrajudicial killings and torture.( Reuters: Temilade Adelaja )
Protesters have been using Twitter and the #EndSars hashtag to spread photos and videos showing alleged police brutality.
Social media has also been used as a hub for organising demonstrations and Nigerians have been using it to collect money and food to feed protesters and support those who have been arrested.
Police formed SARS in 1992 to tackle violent crime such as car-jackings, armed robbery and kidnapping.
The unit developed a reputation for brutality, with Amnesty International accusing it of harassment, extortion, rape, extrajudicial killings and torture.
Nigerians have accused the force of frequently targeting young men with tattoos, dreadlocks or expensive cars or phones, but the force has repeatedly denied the accusations.
It said earlier this month "unruly and unprofessional" officers had been arrested and were facing disciplinary action.
A group calling itself Anonymous claims to have hacked various government websites in recent days, and has warned it will continue to hack government websites and Twitter accounts in order to aid the #EndSars movement.
Government officials have not responded to requests for comment on whether any websites were hacked, but Mr Sagir said exercise Crocodile Smile would for the first time include training on cyberwarfare.
"The exercise is deliberately intended to be all encompassing to include cyberwarfare exercises designed to identify, track and counter negative propaganda in the social media and across the cyberspace," he said.