Alleged Operation Positive Identification in Nigeria
Over the weekend, the Nigerian Army (NA) released a statement dismissing the allegation of Operation Positive Identification (OPI) – a security based exercise targeted towards demanding identification cards from Nigerians nationwide.
The Nation News has it as follows: “Specifically, Bricks alleges that – residents shall witness large numbers of uniformed Nigerian Army personnel parading the roads in an exercise known as OPI."
Furthermore, Premiumtimes in its Saturday 2nd November report noted that the military as of October claimed that “citizens in the North-east had been cooperating with troops to make the exercise successful by carrying with them valid identity documents, and that the military had 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.”
According to PremiumTimes, Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, on Thursday 31st October explained why the operation ‘show your identity’ proposed by the Nigerian Army must commence despite public concerns. He said the operation is targeted at identifying fleeing Boko Haram members and other criminals.
Some other lawmakers have also expressed their concerns that the military, by its training, may engage in excesses.
Right here in the 99.3 Nigeria Info studio Lagos, Captain Aliyu bares his mind on the issue, saying that although the program is meant to take care of some 170 million Nigerians, identify if they are really Nigerians or if they are terrorists, "is a further dilution of the traditional role of the army. There are other agencies that can handle positive identification while the soldiers take care of our territorial integrity from outside and inside."
Rotimi Sankore also joins the conversation in the studio and among other things explained what can help Nigeria grow. "Let me just say what an ex-army general said a few weeks ago when he had a meeting with his old boys. He said that unemployment is the number one problem Nigeria faces. I have been reading expert commentaries and articles in magazines that claim that anytime the army is rolled out enmass, there's something is amiss.
"One of the articles pointed to Nigeria, that anytime this kind of thing is done, the incursion is claimed to be an exercise. There's a much bigger picture to this than whether this role is really for handling this role. Individual soldiers are not trained to ask you politely ID cards and when you can't produce it, have a chat with you. The army is an instrument of violence to defend the country from external aggression.
"To do this, other agencies have been trained to do that. It has been cleared that not all Nigerians have identification cards."
The House of Representatives had called on President Buhari to order the military to stop the planned Operation Positive Identification by the military.
But a report by Punch Newspapers over the weekend also stated that there are strong indications that the Nigerian Army will not suspend the operation despite criticisms from the National Assembly and social-political groups including Afenifere and Pan Niger Delta Forum.
The report by Punch, also noted that the Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed tomorrow Tuesday 5th for the hearing of the suit filed by human rights activist, Femi Falana, challenging the legality of OPI which requires citizens across the country to carry identity cards.
If the Positive Identification should happen in the South West, would it violate citizens’ rights rather than combating the security challenges?
What other ways can Nigeria exploit in ensuring that liberal democracy effectively thrive?
Check out the program below
Comrade Alex Omotehinse - Lagos State Chairman, Committee For The Defense of Human Rights (CDHR)
Captain Aliyu Blade - Rtd. Military Personnel
Rotimi Sankore - Journalist, Policy and Development Expert
Morning Crossfire with Wemimo Adewuni (@wemimospot) & Sheriff Quadry (@SheriffQuadry), alongside Rotimi Sankore (@RotimiSankore)
#MCF with @wemimospot @SheriffQuadry
By Jude Chukwuemeka