Members of the House of Representatives Committee on Army were Thursday divided over the Nigerian Army Operation Positive Identification starting today, Friday November 1 after the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai appeared before them to make clarifications on the operation.
Buratai, who defended the operation, was represented by Major General Usman Mohammed, the Chief of Civil Military Relations.
Ripples Nigeria had reported how the House had on Tuesday asked President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the operation, saying it violated human rights.
The House had mandated its committee on army to invite the Chief of Army Staff to explain the operation.
After Buratai’s briefing on Thursday, members of the committee were divided over the operation, which was criticised by lawmakers, including the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu.
While some of the lawmakers supported the operation and asked the military not to infringe on citizens’ rights, others dismissed it, saying it was against the constitution.
The opposing lawmakers insisted that the military was taking over the responsibilities of the Nigeria Police and the Nigeria Immigration Service.
Chairman of the committee, Mr Abdulrazak Namdas, was forced to set up a sub-committee, whose members were drawn from the opposing sides of the panel, to harmonise their resolutions and report back before Tuesday.
Namdas said: “Based on this interaction, we cannot just conclude. We will have a sub-committee that will handle this and report back to the committee on Tuesday.”
In his opening remarks, Namdas expressed the concerns Nigerians had about OPI, especially on the report that they could be stopped anywhere at any time to identify themselves.
He said: “We know that the Army is seriously tackling a lot of security challenges. The major role of the Army is to safeguard the territorial integrity of Nigeria. Of course, when there are internal security challenges that demand the attention of the Army, certainly the Army is always called upon to help.
“Given the quantum of the issues at hand, we are shocked to add that the military is also adding to its own authority by taking the job of the police or the immigration. Today’s military is different from yesteryear’s military. Today’s military is subservient to the civil rule. If what we have been reading on the pages of newspapers is true, then, it is likening this scenario to the dark days of the military rule when a military man would wake up in the morning and just decide what to do.”
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