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Home Governance Operation Positive Identification: Height of Insanity, Ozekhome, Ubani tell Buhari

Operation Positive Identification: Height of Insanity, Ozekhome, Ubani tell Buhari

Monday Ubani and Mike Ozekhome (SAN)

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Operation Positive Identification: Height of Insanity, Ozekhome, Ubani tell Buhari

The House of Representatives on Tuesday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend Operation Positive Identification being planned by the Nigerian Army.

The Army had last month said it planned Operation Positive Identification in the North-East to flush out Boko Haram insurgents.

Later on September 25, it said the exercise would be extended to other parts of the country. It stated the exercise would enable soldiers to accost citizens on the streets or roads and ask them to produce a means of identification.

It said the exercise would check bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, ethnic militia, cattle rustlers, as well as other sundry criminals across the various regions of the country.

Besides members of the House of Representatives, prominent lawyers and human rights groups condemned the exercise.

A  Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Mike Ozekhome, in an interview said the entire National Assembly should throw its weight behind the call to suspend the Operation Positive Identification, which he described as “the height of insanity and madness”.

“They should withdraw that policy as urgently as possible,” Ozekhome told one of our correspondents on the telephone.

He said, “It should not just be the House of Representatives, it should be the entire National Assembly that should descend on this policy heavily, to show that it’s not a rubber-stamp National Assembly people were saying it would be.

“They should not just shout it, they should put it in their votes and proceedings, pass the resolutions, pass motions, and stop this maddening government from going madder and madder.

“It is the height of insanity for citizens to be told to produce their identity card or driving licence, or passport when they are on the streets of their country.

“I have never heard of that. Even the United States of America does not tell foreigners to produce their passports or driving licences when they go about their normal duties. That is why I said this policy is the height of insanity and madness.

“What it simply means is that on the day you forget your identity card or other means of recognition, at home, it means you are an illegal immigrant and will be deported immediately. The more we tend to excuse this government, the more it delves more and more into infamy.”

He called on the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to “remind itself that we are not in despotism, we are not in military dictatorship, we are not in absolutism, we are not in fascism; this is supposed to be a democracy not government for the few by the cabal and by the dictators.”

Also, a former Second Vice-President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Monday Ubani, said the plan by the army was unlawful.

He said, “I am in support of the suspension of the plan by the army. When I read about the plan in the media, I was wondering which law permitted the army to do such.

“Since the call for suspension of the plan is coming from the House of Representatives, it means no law has been made to give the army the power to embark on such a plan. It means it would have been an unlawful act by the army.”

The Chairman of the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, Emeka Umeagbalasi,  said the exercise would be an avenue for extortion.

He stated, “Apart from being elitist and clear grounds for extortion or roadway bribery, indiscriminate arrests, abductions, torture, extra-judicial and unlawful killings and disappearances; it also expressly means that Nigerians or citizens without such elitist documents including the aging and the underage, automatically become kidnappers, armed robbers,  bandits,  arsonists, cultists and rapists.

“Coupled with the fact that over 70 per cent of federal roads in old Eastern Nigeria are in acute deplorable state, the so-called Operation Positive Identification is a deliberately designed punishment or roadway torture package meant to further keep road users or travellers for several hours.

“On the other hand, it is also in the wisdom of the Nigerian Army that kidnappers, armed robbers, bandits, arsonists and cultists do not possess voter card, driving licence’ or passport,  or other valid official identification.”

“Violent criminals are like every other citizen with easy access to the named identification items. This is, therefore, the blunder of the highest order on the part of the Nigerian Army.”

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