As reactions continue to trail the planned nationwide implementation of Operation Positive Identification (OPI) by the Nigerian Army, the House of Representatives, yesterday, kicked against the policy, insisting that it would amount to trampling on the rights of Nigerians Punch NG and Pulse NG reports.
Consequently, the House mandated its Committee on Army to interface with the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, to develop a pro-people strategy in combating crime.
The resolution was taken at the resumed plenary following the adoption of a motion of urgent national importance brought by the minority leader of the House, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, who described the planned operation scheduled to commence on November 1, as a recipe to possible militarization of Nigeria.
Presenting the motion, Elumelu posited that such a plan by the army would lead to the infringement on fundamental rights of Nigerians, as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
He argued that the plan if followed through, would downgrade innocent Nigerians to suspects and conquered people in their own country; strip them of their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of movement and instill fear, anxiety, and panic in the entire polity.
Elumelu, who posited that the constitutional duties of the Nigerian Army are defending the territorial integrity of the country, urged it to allow the police and other relevant agencies such as Nigerian Immigration Services (NIS) to handle regulatory issues relating to internal security.
He also noted that the nationwide operation would also amount to an indirect imposition of a state of emergency across the country by the army, adding that such operations that involve direct contact and regulation of civilians is likely to result in abuses and serious safety issues, especially at this time the nation is battling with the scourge of victimization and extrajudicial killings.
Speaking further, the minority leader pointed out that the operation would expose many Nigerians, particularly those living in the rural areas, to harassment as they do not have proper means of identification just as there has not been enough public sensitization for the operation.
Supporting the motion, the deputy minority leader, Hon. Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu) noted that the National Identification Management Commission (NIMC), as well as other security agencies, are already saddled with such responsibility.
In adopting the motion, the House also urged the army to develop pro-people strategies in combating the country’s security challenges instead of measures that would further victimize citizens.
It equally called on President Muhammadu Buhari to review the situation and stop the army from commencing the planned operation.
It will be recalled that the minority caucus had, two days ago, issued a press statement rejecting the proposed army operations.