The House of Representatives on Tuesday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend Operation Positive Identification being planned by the Nigerian Army .
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.
Besides the lawmakers , Nigerian Bar Associations and other groups including Committee for the Defence of Human Rights , faulted the excercise .
The Army had last month said it planned Operation Positive Identification in the North -East to flush out Boko Haram insurgents
But later on September 25, it said the exercise would be extended to other parts of the country . It stated the exercise would enable soldiers to accost citizens on the streets or roads and ask them to produce a means of identification .
It said the exercise would check bandits, kidnappers , armed robbers, ethnic militia, cattle rustlers, as well as other sundry criminals across the various regions of the country.
But in the House of Representatives on Tuesday , lawmakers unanimously resolved that 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 . ”
The House also directed the Committee on Army to liaise with the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Buratai, to develop “ a pro- people strategy in combating crimes before commencing same. ”
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.
It is the height of insanity – SAN
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Mike Ozekhome, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the entire National Assembly should throw its weight behind the call to suspend the Operation Positive Identification, which he described as “ the height of insanity and madness” .
“ They should withdraw that policy as urgently as possible , ” Ozekhome told one of our correspondents on the telephone.
He said , “ It should not just be the House of Representatives , it should be the entire National Assembly that should descend on this policy heavily, to show that it ’s not a rubber – stamp National Assembly people were saying it would be.
“ They should not just shout it , they should put it in their votes and proceedings , pass the resolutions , pass motions , and stop this maddening government from going madder and madder.
“ It is the height of insanity for citizens to be told to produce their identity card or driving licence, or passport when they are on the streets of their country.
“ I have never heard of that . Even the United States of America does not tell foreigners to produce their passports or driving licences when they go about their normal duties . That is why I said this policy is the height of insanity and madness.
“ What it simply means is that on the day you forget your identity card or other means of recognition, at home , it means you are an illegal immigrant and will be deported immediately. The more we tend to excuse this government , the more it delves more and more into infamy .”
He called on the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to “ remind itself that we are not in despotism , we are not in military dictatorship , we are not in absolutism , we are not in fascism; this is supposed to be a democracy not government for the few by the cabal and by the dictators .