Nigeria: Reps Urge Military to Suspend Planned 'Operation Positive Identification'

29 October 2019

The House of Representatives has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to order the military to stop the planned 'Operation Positive Identification' by the military.

The decision followed a motion of Urgent Public Importance moved by the minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu, at the plenary on Tuesday.

The Nigerian military had planned a nationwide operation to demand identity cards from citizens across the country.

'Operation Positive Identification' would see soldiers accosting citizens on the streets or highways and asking them to produce means of identification on the spot.

Soldiers have been taking similar measures to "separate citizens from terrorists" in the Boko Haram-ravaged North-east Nigeria.

The military claimed last month that citizens in the North-east had been cooperating with troops to make the exercise successful by carrying with them valid identity documents.

But the military announced on September 25 that the exercise will be extended nationwide to "checkmate bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, ethnic militia, cattle rustlers as well as other sundry crimes across the various regions of Nigeria."

'Not acceptable'

Mr Elumelu while moving the motion described the proposed operation as "infringement on the rights of Nigerians."

"It will be an indirect state of emergency if allowed to take place and the plan contravenes sections Section 217 sub 2(c,d) of the 1999 constitution," he said.

"The sections reads: The Federation shall, subject to an Act of the National Assembly made in that behalf, equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea, or air;

"suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the President, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly; and

"performance such other functions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly."

Also contributing, the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu, (PDP, Enugu) said the proposed plan was not within the mandate of the army.

"It is not part of their mandate, we have the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and we have the security apparatus. Unfortunately, we have been under siege by Boko Haram.

"They are simply belabouring themselves with jobs that do not concern them. We have to interrogate this through the committee on the army."

Also supporting the motion, Ahmed Jaha, proposed that the army commence offensive attacks "against Boko Haram and bandits in North-east and North-west'.

"From Abuja to Maiduguri is 14 hours under normal circumstances; if you ask for identification at every checkpoint, how many days will it take before passengers get to their destination?"

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