By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA—IN its determination to neutralise the strength of terrorists’ activities on the cyber space, the Nigerian Army has established a cyber command centre.
The command, according to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, is principally to empower the Nigerian Army with the capabilities to protect its data and network against cyber attacks and hostile elements.
Speaking, yesterday, at the commissioning of the cyber operations centre of the Nigerian Army Cyber Warfare Command, located at the Army Headquarters,Abuja, Buratai noted that cyber-warfare was “the fifth domain of warfare after land, sea, air and space.”
According to the army chief, the need to embark on Nigerian Army data protection and information warfare to curb online radicalization as well as other terrorist activities perpetrated on the internet necessitated the establishment of the centre.
Besides,he said the cyber operations centre “would also enable robust online presence so as to fight fake news targeted at the Army with counter narratives and cyber operations.”
To this end, he tasked operators of the centre to equip themselves with digital forensics capabilities and be able to handle cases of identity theft and generate immediate incidence response.
Buratai said the creation of the centre was in line with his vision for the Nigerian Army, which, he noted, was to have professional, responsive Nigerian Army in the discharge of its constitutional roles.
He said further: “The intrinsic features of cyberspace can be easily exploited for information warfare by actors with malicious intent to plant and disseminate fake news and instruct paid users to spread online manipulated content.
“This is done in order to degrade debates with diverging truths, deceive, distract and misinform public opinion.
“This can eventually disorient and corroborate a sense of doubt among the public, or shape the opinion of a specific target audience on a certain issue.
“Hostile actors in cyberspace are also willing and capable of leveraging the variety of tools allowed by computer network operations and computational propaganda to influence public opinion to a degree that old-fashioned psychology operations could only dream of.
“The above statement accurately demonstrates the real threat of information warfare and the need to combat it with use of information knowledge.
“I encourage you to routinely survey the dark web/darknet and carry out analysis that may help the NA to be proactive in the cyber realm.”
The army boss used the occasion to hint on why he directed the setting up of complaints centre.
Hear him: “In recent times, the military has been inundated with several complaints regarding claims bothering on the unprofessional conducts of some of our personnel in the field.
“Consequently, the Army has taken it upon itself to create an avenue for the public to submit complains and information directly to the appropriate authority without third party interference.
“ The said avenue being an application that will allow users to relay information anonymously to the Nigerian Army. It enables citizens to give timely information to the Army thereby facilitating quick response.”
“Crimes against the constitution perpetrated by serving personnel can be directly reported to the Army while keeping the person involved abreast with actions taken as regards a submitted complain. “
He added that the “link to the application will be publicly available on the Nigerian Army Facebook page.”
“ While the application can be assessed through our website and on apps freely available on various app stores,users can submit a report as well as attach uploads that will aid the authority in carrying out necessary actions.
“Although, submitting images or videos is not compulsory, it will however aid the Nigerian Army in authenticating submitted reports.
“Let me remind us all that these actions are aimed at bolstering interactions with the citizens of Nigeria while making the activities of the Army readily available to them.’’
He commended the staff of the command “for setting up the centre within a record timing.”
Buratai said given that the location was only temporary,he had approved the immediate construction of the command’s permanent office complex and accommodation at Nigerian Army Cantonment, Giri.
“Hence, there is still more work ahead. I hereby charge the Command to endeavour to collaborate with other agencies in the protection of the Nigerian Cyber Space.
‘’Focus your attention on protection of Nigerian Army data space, critical facilities and the prevention of cyber terrorism.
“I hereby urge the staff of the Command to perform their task with optimum dedication to ensure that our vision for the command and the Nigerian Army at large is attained,”he advised.