Abuja — The ongoing anti-insurgency operations in the North-east aimed at routing Boko Haram and other militant groups from the area entered another phase at the weekend with the military's introduction of an identification exercise for residents of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States, all in the geopolitical zone.
Under the scheme codenamed "Operation Positive Identification," whose commencement is with immediate effect, residents are expected to produce on demand valid means of identification when demanded by security agents.
Acceptable means of identification include national identification cards, voter registration cards, driving licences and passports.
Failure to produce any of these on demand would make the soldiers to subject such a person to intense scrutiny and further interrogation.
Besides, "Operation Positive Identification" is also aimed at searching for and arresting terrorists who are on the run after being dislodged by troops from their enclaves.
Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, Theatre Command, Operation Lafiya Dole, Col. Ado Isa, unfolded the new measures just as the Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, Senator Uba Sani, said the Senate under the leadership of Senator Ahmad Lawan would support President Muhammadu Buhari in its determination to reinvigorate the economy and make the nation more secure.
Troops of 'Operation Lafiya Dole' engaged in the anti-insurgency campaign in the North-east have recently unleashed massive aerial and artillery bombardments on the insurgents that triggered their mass exodus from North-east to Central, West African sub-regions and Sudan.
It was in a bid to stop them from sneaking back into the country after a lull in hostilities that military authorities launched "Operation Positive Identification."
The Nigerian Army had warned communities within the theatre of war against harbouring the fleeing insurgents.
It warned of dire consequences against those collaborating with insurgents.
It said the fugitives were escaping and taking refuge in the residences of people in Maiduguri, Damboa, Gajiram, Monguno, Damasak, Biu, Gwoza Dikwa, Benisheikh, Ngamdu, Bama, Gamboru, Konduga, Gajigana and other smaller towns all in Borno State.
In addition, some of the terrorists are also fleeing to Damaturu, Gujba, Buni Yadi, Buni Gari, Gashua, Kanamma, Yususufari, Goniri and Kukareta towns in Yobe State, among others.
Isa said in a statement that the identification scheme was informed by intelligence reports that showed that the insurgents were hibernating in some towns and villages in Borno and Yobe States.
"The operation is aimed at searching for and arresting all suspected erstwhile Boko Haram/ISWAP criminal elements that roam some parts of the North-eastern part of the country.
"This has become necessary following credible information that some of the fleeing criminals are hibernating in some towns and villages of Borno and Yobe States in particular and North-east in general," he said.
He urged the public travelling around the North-east to carry valid means of identification as those not positively identified would be subjected to further scrutiny and comprehensive investigation.
"Consequently, members of the public are enjoined to always carry valid means of identification when moving or passing through the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. Our troops have been instructed to strictly check valid means of identification such as national identification card, voters' registration card, drivers' licence and international passports, or other valid official identification, before allowing such person passage," he added.
It urged the public "to bear with this measure as it is in their best interest and our national security, as well as efforts to end the madness called insurgency as perpetrated by the erstwhile Boko Haram/ISWAP fighters".
Senate on same page with Buhari on security, economy, says Sani
Meanwhile, Senator Uba Sani, has pledged the support of the Senate to the president in its determination to grow the nation's economy and safeguard lives and property.
The senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, while interacting with journalists in Abuja yesterday, also commended the Central Bank of Nigeria's (CBN) recent decision to implement the cashless policy, saying the major goal of the policy is to curb corruption, counterfeiting of notes, money laundering, terrorism and tax evasion.
He added that Buhari's recent constitution of an Economic Advisory Council is a clear indication that he is committed to bequeathing a strong and virile economy to Nigerians.
"The president has just passed a strong message that we need to reinvigorate our economy. We need to grow our economy because economic growth means an increase in real GDP.
"Increase in real GDP means there will be an increase in the value of national output/national expenditure. The benefits of economic growth are huge; they include higher average incomes, which enables consumers, especially the poor to enjoy more goods and services and enjoy better standards of living; it also means that there will be lower unemployment.
"And with advanced output and positive economic growth, firms will employ more workers, creating more employment, and it also helps to reduce government borrowing; increase tax revenues and with this, the government can spend more on public services, such as health, education and good roads and others," he said.
He also said the Senate would fast-track the passage of the 2020 Appropriation Bill.
"Senate President Lawan has changed the old narrative of unduly delay of passage of annual budget. Recently, the Senate President stated that the National Assembly was expecting the 2020 budget proposal from the executive very soon, and that the Ninth Assembly would deliberate on it and pass it within two months. We will strongly support that.
"If the budget is passed on time, the process would return the country to the annual budget of January to December. The perennial delay in passing the annual budgets in the past gave a wrong impression that the legislature was either ignorant of its responsibility or intentionally frustrating the efforts of the executive arm to perform. We need to change the wrong perception", Senator Sani added.
Early passage of the budget, he said, would promote economic growth and development, adding that the economy depends on government's budget to function properly and the private sector, particularly, needs to see government direction to plan and execute their strategies.
He described the new legislature -executive rapprochement at the federal level as salutary, saying that it must be effectively utilised in sanitising the budgetary process to enhance sustainable growth and development.
According to him, "The legislature and executive, though independent, must work harmoniously to address myriad challenges confronting our country. We must synergise to give our people a good budget and see to its prompt and effective implementation."
On the recent notice by CBN to implement the cashless policy, Sani said he had no problem with the policy as long as it would not affect the poor.
Speaking on the challenges of insecurity, he said the Senate, in line with the vision of Lawan, would work closely with the president to address the challenges of insecurity across the country.
He said the Senate recognised the huge efforts Buhari had made in the past four years to frontally confront insecurity, saying the efforts are yielding positive results.
He said: "Security and a sound legal system are critical for sustainable development. Our country has been confronting insecurity challenges of different dimensions. They have definitely taken a toll on our people and our economy.
"We pay a huge price in confronting our insecurity challenges. The huge financial resources we have spent in fighting crimes in the past few years would have helped bolster our social services.
"The Senate is committed and ever ready to support President Buhari in his current determination to strengthen security and the legal order as well as addressing the socio-economic challenges confronting the country."