By Christiana Ekpa
Members of the House of Representatives Committee on Army were yesterday divided over the issue of Operation Positive Identification (OPI) introduced by the Nigeria Army as members spoke for and against the new idea
The lawmakers expressed different views on why the army should suspend the operation while others commended the army for the idea and urged that it should be carried out with utmost professionalism.
Speaking earlier, the chairman of the committee, Adulrazak Namdas wondered why the army was poised on carrying out a stop and search assignment whereas the police was saddled with such responsibility.
“Giving the quantum of issues at hand, we are shock to hear that the military is adding to its authority by taking the job of the police or Immigration.
“So we felt that it was necessary for us to sit down with the military; you have your roles to play and we expect that you cannot add for yourself especially roles not envisaged in the Constitution.
“Today’s military is subservient to the civil rule and you take authority from the civil; as a parliament, we will not rely only on information in the papers and that’s why we called you to explain more”, he said.
Speaking in support of the matter, Shina Peller (APC, Oyo) said, ” I applaud the army for even conceiving this idea. The country is currently facing a mirage of security challenges and if the army is devising other higher technical idead of curtailing this menace then they should be commended.
“However, the army should apply decorum and I want the army to carry our an explanatory advert. Let’s not throw away this idea rather we should consider the advantage and disadvantages. ”
Also, Ibrahim Mustapha (APC, Sokoto) who spoke in support of the army said, “we have to be conscious of the fact that Nigeria is facing serious security challenges, so I have come to terms that OPI is a very good idea. I commend you (army) for a job well-done.
Meanwhile, Ahmadu Jaha (APC, Borno) who spoke against the operation said, ” after listening to you on this issue, I can only say this is misplacement of priority. I have been following this exercise since 2009 when this problem started. I can tell you that they don’t insist that you must present a valid identification card like what we know as driver’s license, national identification card, international passport or voter’s card. All they ask you to present is just anything that identifies you and when you don’t have you can be charged. However, even in the north east, no military man stops you and say you should identify yourself they carry out this operation in conjunction with JTF (Joint Task Force).
“Infact, in most cases it is the police amongst the JTF that ask people for means of identification. This takes me to the issue of national identity card, less than fifty percent of Nigerians can boast of this identity.
“It has been so bastardized that even people from Chad and Niger just go to our local governments in Borno State and obtain certificate of indigenization so you can imagine the porosity.
Nonetheless, I don’t think the army should carry out this operation. ”
On his part, Mr. Chris Agibe Ngoro (PDP, Cross River) also disagreed with the army that the country was not at war to warrant army presence in all corners of the country. ” The police is trained to identify the enemy and arrest the enemy, so if Nigerians are the target of this operation then we are worried as representatives of the people. OPI is national operation and if you go on with this operation it then means you are declaring war on Nigeria. This particular operation contravenes the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria. ”
While responding, Mohammed Usman, the representative of the Chief of Army Staff called on Nigerians not to panic that they would be no course for alarm.
According to him: “I must say what you saw on social media is a fake alarm. We did not put any write up on the social media as our mode of operandi but as for the operation we are fully responsible.
“Though, we are going to be as civil as possible not to infringe on the rights of anybody. I want to also say here categorically that any time the Nigeria army is involve in an operation it is national project. And in the case of any arrest we would handover such persons to the the Nigeria police because we are working in conjunction with other security agencies. I must also say we have the constitutional mandate to carry out this assignment.”