By Johnson Eyiangho
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen Tukur Buratai, has inaugurated the Nigerian Army Cyber Warfare Command, a new corps to protect its data/network against cyber attack and curb terrorism.
He also launched an app that Nigerian citizens can download to pass information to the military authorities.
Buratai said the Cyber Operations Centre, at the army headquarters in Abuja, would also boost the army’s online presence in the fight against fake news targeted at it with counter narratives and cyber operations.
He added that “cyber warfare is the fifth domain of warfare after Land, Sea, Air and Space.Therefore, this project would not have come at a better time than now.”
Buratai, therefore, stressed the need for the army to embark on data protection and Information Warfare to curb online radicalisation, as well as other terrorist activities perpetrated on the internet.
According to him, 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 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 information knowledge.”
The army chief charged personnel of the new corps which he said was first in Africa, to equip themselves with digital forensics capabilities to be able to handle cases of identity theft and generate immediate incidence response.
He added that “furthermore, I encourage you to routinely survey the dark web/darknet and carry out analysis that may help the Nigerian army to be proactive in the cyber realm.”
Buratai noted that in recent times, the military had been inundated with several complaints regarding claims bothering on the unprofessional conducts of some of its personnel in the field.
Consequently, he said, the army took it upon itself to create an avenue for the public to submit complaints and information directly to the appropriate authority without third party interference.
He said “the avenue is 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.
“Additionally, 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.
“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.”
The chief of army staff added that users could submit a report, as well as attach uploads that would aid the authority in carrying out necessary actions.