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Home Governance Positive Identification: Stop Army Operation, Reps, NBA tell Buhari

Positive Identification: Stop Army Operation, Reps, NBA tell Buhari

Paul Usoro, SAN, NBA President

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Positive Identification: Stop Army Operation, Reps, NBA tell Buhari

Several members of the House, who spoke on a motion by the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, condemned the operation as anti-people which allegedly posed threats to human rights.

In the House of Representatives on Tuesday, lawmakers unanimously resolved that the Nigerian Army should develop “a pro-people strategy in confronting our security challenges instead of measures that would further victimise the people.”

They also urged the President, being the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, to “review the situation and stop the Army from commencing the planned operation scheduled to begin on November 1, 2019, to make way for further consultations.”

Besides the lawmakers, Nigerian Bar Associations and other groups including Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, faulted the exercise.

The NBA said the military should leave identification of persons to agencies like the police and immigration service, which it said were better equipped to handle it.

The National Publicity Secretary of the body of Nigerian lawyers, Kunle Edun, in an interview with The Punch, said, “Rather than the military being engaged in identification issues within the country, the Nigeria Immigration Service and the Nigeria Police that are better equipped for such tasks, should be allowed to perform their constitutional functions,” the NBA said.

Edun also said the military must act according to the law in embarking on the planned Operation Positive Identification.

He said, “Government is established to cater for the welfare and security of its citizens, not to cage them.

“In as much as the Nigerian military has the onerous responsibility of protecting the nation from external aggression and other serious conflict situations, the military is still a product of the law and must act in accordance with the known laws of the country.”

“The planned Operation Positive Identification by the Nigerian military has to be properly explained to Nigerians before it can commence.

“There has been no enlightenment of the limit, extent and circumstances under which a citizen might be asked by military personnel to produce evidence of identification.

“Is it an offence for one to fail to identify himself when there is no evidence of him having committed any offence? Would the military not use this exercise to go into private residences or offices of Nigerians and thereby intrude into their privacy? There are many questions yet unanswered.”

Moving the motion, Elumelu said the OPI would “downgrade Nigerians to suspects and in fact conquered persons in their country, thereby stripping them of their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of movement.”

According to the Minority Leader, the operation is a recipe for possible militarisation of Nigeria.

He warned that the nationwide operation would also amount to an “indirect imposition of a state of emergency across the country by the Army.

Elumelu said military operations that had direct contact and regulation of civilians could result in “abuses and serious safety issues, especially at this time the nation is battling with the scourge of victimisation and extrajudicial killings.”

He said the planned implementation of OPI across the nation would rather worsen the security situation in the country.

A member, Ahmadu Jaha, criticised the security chiefs for the multiple code-named military operations across the country.

Jaha said, “I will like to emphasise that if our security chiefs are out of ideas, they should let Nigerians know about that so that they can voluntarily give way for other people who have new ideas on how to fight insecurity in this country.

“Travelling from Abuja to Maiduguri (Borno State capital), before linking the various local government areas, it takes not less 14 hours. That is under normal circumstances. In the event whereby you (military) have to ask them (commuters) to identify themselves at different military checkpoints before they proceed, for God’s sake, how many days will take them to move from Abuja to Maiduguri or from Maiduguri to Chibok or from Maiduguri to Damboa or Maiduguri to Gwoza?

“So, this is basically not the work of the military but the work of the Nigeria Immigration Service. How do you tell a common man from my village that he must have an identity card before he moves around? This is a violation of fundamental human rights.”

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