By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The House of Representatives has kicked against Operation Positive Identification (OPI) which the army is scheduled to commence on November 1, 2019 across the country.
The green chamber said rather than the army subjecting Nigerians to conquered persons in their own country, the army should go on the offensive against the Boko Haram insurgents.
The House Minority Leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, had raised a point of order of national importance at the resumption of plenary Tuesday, urging the House to stop the planned operation, saying it would strip Nigerians of their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of movement.
He insisted that the operation by the Army is a recipe for possible militarisation of Nigerians, adding that such plan by the army would lead to the infringement on fundamental rights of Nigerians, as enshrined in the 1999 constitution (as amended).
He added that the plan, if allowed, would downgrade innocent Nigerians to suspects, while it would also instill fear, anxiety and panic in the entire polity.
The minority leader noted that the nationwide operation would also amount to an indirect imposition of a state of emergency across the country by the army.
He argued that such proposed military operations that involve direct contact and regulating of civilians could result in abuses and serious safety issues, especially at this time the nation is battling with the scourge of victimization and extra-judicial killings.
In his contribution, Hon. Ahamadu Jaha said that travelling from Abuja to Maiduguri before takes not less 14 hours under normal circumstances, while wondering how many days it would take if the army should commence the operation.
He stated: “While I’m in support of the motion, I will like to emphasise that if our security chiefs are out of idea, they should let Nigerians know about that so that they can voluntarily give way for other people who have new ideas on how to fight insecurity in this country.
“In the event whereby you have to ask them to identify themselves in different military check points before they proceed, for God sake, how many days will it take them (people) to move from Abuja to Maiduguri or from Maiduguri to Chibok, or from Maiduguri to Damboa or Maiduguri to Gwosa. So this is basically not the work of the army but the work of immigration service.”
He said that prior to the inauguration of the members of the House, substantial number of the lawmakers could not access the National Identity Card because of the rigorous process involved in getting the ID card, adding that how do the army expect a common man from the village to have ID card before he moves around.
Jaha added: “Lastly, we better face the reality, we have a lot to do with these military men particularly in the North-east. They should go and be providing offensive operation, offensive attacks to Boko Haram in North-east, banditry in North-west and other parts of the country. This is not an idea at all. I condemn it in totality.”
Also, Hon. Toby Okechukwu said that the army was simply trying to engage in an exercise that is not within their purview.
He said it is a known fact that they are short of manpower, while wondering why the army is now deploying the little manpower they have on Nigerians.
The House therefore resolved that the army should therefore develop pro-people strategy in confronting our security challenges instead of measures that will further victimise the people.
The House further urged President Muhammadu Buhari, as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to review the situation and stop the army from commencing the planned operation scheduled for November 1, 2019 to make way for further consultations.
The House therefore directed the House Committee on Army to liaise with the Chief of Army Staff to develop a pro-people strategy in combating crime before commencing same.