The proposed Operation Positive Identification by the Nigerian Army has become another row the country has to contend with. The Army says it is embarking on the operation in an effort to identify criminal elements operating within the country, and thus has issued the following ultimatum to the general public.
Effective from 1st November – 23rd December 2019
Residents shall witness a large number of security operatives on the roads
Operation Positive Identification (OPI) requires you move with valid means of identification – National identity card, voter registration card, drivers license etc.
Give additional time for routine movement and travel locations.
With the above information, the Nigerian public has been warned to get ready for what is to come.
However, the development has not gone down well with the National Assembly who without hesitation registered its displeasure with the Army.
Members of the House of Representatives said on Tuesday that the exercise is illegal and outside the constitutional mandate of the Nigerian Army. They called it “an exercise in futility.”
The Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, told the House that the exercise will trample on people’s fundamental rights to move around freely. He said it is more like imposing a state of emergency on the country through the back door.
The logic by the Army justifying the exercise has been the alleged inflow of foreigners into the country, which is believed to be contributing to the high rate of banditry and criminality.
But Elumelu argued that the security challenges in the country are not an excuse, if at all there should be an exercise like that, it should be pro people. Not something like this that will stir unrest and disrupt normal engagements of the people. He also pointed out that the Army infringed on the constitution of the federal republic by not acting according to the provision of the law that mandates it to get the approval of the House.
Another Rep. member, Tobe Okechukwu opined that an exercise like this should not be coming from the Army. He said it is the job of agencies, like the police, immigration and civil security agencies.
“When we are under attack in the Northeast, Northwest and other parts of the country, the Army wants to do operation positive identification which is not within their job description,” he said.
He added that the Army will be useful in the theatre of war and should be deployed therein, instead of engaging in an unfruitful practice that will disturb the general peace of the people. Moreover, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has not been able to provide identity cards for Nigerians. So there is no moral ground for the Army to go about asking the people for identification.
Another Rep. Ahmed found it disgusting that upon all the security issues facing the country, the Army believes that operation positive identification will provide a solution.
He said “If our security chiefs are out of ideas, they should let Nigerians know, So that we get others to assist in the fight against insecurity.
“It takes my constituents about 14 hours to get home on a normal day. If we have to now include this identification, how many hours will they now spend on the way before getting home”?
Other implications of the exercise go beyond rural arrears. A lot of people in the urban places too don’t have means of identification. IDs come from jobs and many don’t have jobs, the story of national identity card remains the same everywhere. Drivers license is for those who need it.
So the concern of the National Assembly is that many Nigerians will get locked up or brutalized by the Army just because they don’t have means of identification, which is not their fault. Therefore, the House of Representatives unanimously adopted the motion mandating the House Committee on Army to interrogate the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Col. Burutai, in view of finding out the real motive behind Operation Positive Identification.