Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The House of Representatives has rejected the proposed Operation Positive Identification (OPI) being planned by the Nigeria Army to commence nationwide on November 1.
Consequently, it charged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai, to put the operation on hold pending due consultations on the OPI. The House also directed its Committee on Army to immediately engage with Buratai to develop a pro-people security management strategy.
This followed adoption of a motion sponsored by the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, at yesterday’s plenary, urging the House to intervene and halt the proposed military operation.
Elumelu, in his lead debate, argued that the Army was exceeding its constitutional brief by proposing to embark on a nationwide military operation without the authorisation of the National Assembly.
According to him, the 1999 Constitution (as amended) stipulates that before the Army can embark on any activity outside its brief, it must get the approval of the National Assembly. The minority leader, who said he was not aware the parliament had given any such approval, contended that the operation, if allowed, will amount to an infringement on the rights of the citizens.
“If the proposed Operation Positive Identification is allowed, it will downgrade innocent Nigerians to suspects, prisoners and in fact, conquered persons in their own country, thereby stripping them of their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of movement, and instilling fear and anxiety in the citizenry.”
Chukwuma Umeoji, an All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) member, who represents Aguata Federal Constituency of Anambra State, urged the Army to jettison the proposed operation as it is allien to the 1999 Constitution as amended.
“It it is worrisome that the military is increasingly been involved in primary civilian exercise. The government should initiate a programme for the withdrawal of the military from engagement that are primarily the constitutional role of the police. The militarisation of the country is dangerous for democracy, considering the history of the country. In the eyes of the international community, it portrays Nigeria as country at war with itself. The military is used for citizen identification only in occupied territory.