The Nigerian Army’s 21st century modernization program continues to gather steam as the Army today commissioned the Nigerian Army Cyber Command at the Army headquarters in Abuja.
The Nigerian Cyber Command is being built to supersede that of any country in Africa by building a unit capable of fighting such a large-scale conflict at a time when Nigeria’s sizable military is striving to excel in the digital domain. A feat that seemed unattainable a decade ago.
In keeping with the military’s obsession on secrecy, littler is known about the new military sub-service, which combines the government’s desire to develop innovative asymmetric warfare capabilities and remotely collect intelligence stored on electronic devices.
The Nigerian military is averse on sharing information with the public, hence at this point, it’s difficult to come up with a credible estimate of the number of personnel in or budget for the newest sub-service of the Nigerian military. However given the apparent scope and scale, as well as the importance of these missions, there are possibilities that a large chunk will be staffed by non military computed specialists
Though Egypt, Algeria and South Africa have existing cyber command structures, Nigeria is rapidly catching up by following a drastically different model.
In the wake of Amnesty International’s relentless smear campaign, lies and disinformation against the Nigerian Army. Lies that includes allegations of child soldiers being used by the army, soldiers raping thousands of women, presence of ISIS in Nigeria etc, there are unconfirmed reports that the Army Cyber Command will be responsible for conducting many of Nigeria’s most sensitive cyber-espionage and propaganda missions.
REMARKS BY THE COAS ON THE COMMISSIONING OF CYBER OPERATIONS CENTRE OF NACWC ON 15 OCT 18
1. Principal Staff Officers, Officers, Soldiers, members of the Press, Distinguished invited guests, I am delighted today for the occasion of commissioning of the Cyber operations Center of the Nigerian Army Cyber Warfare Command. As you are all aware, Cyber-warfare is the fifth domain of warfare after Land, Sea, Air and Space. Therefore, this project would not have come. The need to embark on NA data protection and Information Warfare to curb online radicalization as well as other terrorist activities perpetrated on the internet.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. In view of the aforementioned, and in line with my vision for the NA which is to have Professional Responsive Nigerian Army in the Discharge of its Constitutional Roles, the NA decided to establish the Nigerian Army Cyber Warfare Command to empower the NA with the capabilities to protect our data/network against cyber attacks and hostile elements.
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. Therefore, you must equip yourselves with digital forensics capabilities and be able to handle cases of identity theft and generate immediate incidence response. Furthermore, 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.
5. 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. 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.
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 NA in authenticating submitted reports. At this juncture, 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.
6. At this juncture, I commend the staff of the command for setting up the Centre within a record timing. However, bear in mind that this location is only temporary as I have approved the immediate construction of your permanent office complex and accommodation at Nigerian Army Cantonment in 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 NA data space, critical facilities and the prevention of Cyber Terrorism. Finally, 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. God bless us all.
7. Good luck.