Falana sues Nigerian Army over ‘Operation Positive Identification’
Human Rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has sued the Nigerian army for its “operation positive identification” exercise which was scheduled to commence across Nigeria on Friday, November 1, 2019, and lasts until December 23, 2019.
“There is no insurrection in every part of the country which the Nigeria police cannot contain to warrant the deployment of armed troops all over the country from 1st November 2019 to December 23rd, 2019,” Falana’s suit submitted a Federal High Court in Lagos read.
“Neither the Constitution nor the Armed Forces Act Cap A20 LFN, 2004 has empowered the Nigeria Army to arrest any citizen who is not subject to service law.”
Although the army on Thursday refuted claims that it has deployed troops across the states of the federation to begin ‘Operation Positive Identification’ (OPI) exercise, it has since commenced the operation today.
A representative of the chief of army told the House of Representatives Committee on Army on Friday that operation does not heavy presence of military on the streets.
“Operation Positive Identification is intelligence-led activity,” said Director, Civil/Military Affairs at the Army Headquarters, U.S Mohammed, who represented Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai.
“Based on credible information, we go to certain areas, make an arrest and profile those arrested by identifying them and through that, we may be able to identify some Boko Haram members and other criminals.”
“There will be no additional checkpoints because it is all intelligence-led. The fact that we are extending it to other parts of the country does not mean there are changes. It is strictly based on credible information and intelligence.”
The army had earlier in September announced a similar operation in some states in the country’s northeast.
“The operation is aimed at searching for and arresting all suspected erstwhile Boko Haram/ISWAP criminal elements that roam some parts of the North Eastern part of the country,” the army said.
“Consequently, members of the public are enjoined to always carry valid means of identification when moving or passing through the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe,” the force added.
A few days later after the launch of OPI, the army said it was going to extend the operation across the country “to checkmate bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, ethnic militia, cattle rustlers as well as other sundry crimes.”
“The NA, once again, use this opportunity to enjoin all Nigerians not to panic on seeing an increased presence of military personnel and other security agencies as well as movement of Military vehicles /hardwares,” army said in a tweet.
The army did not state whether or not residents would be asked to show means of identification.
But Falana has described this operation as an outright violation of the people’s right to freedom of movement. He, however, sought the court’s intervention “to prevent what he described as irreparable damages that may result from the exercise”.
In the suit, the Nigerian army is the first respondent while the Chief of Army Staff is the second respondent, the Attorney General of the Federation is the third respondent.