House of Representatives Tuesday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the planned Operation Positive Identification (OPI) by the military.
The decision followed a motion of Urgent Public Importance moved by Minority Leader Ndudi Elumelu at plenary presided over by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila.
OPI is an operation the military claims would enable Nigerians to provide documentary identification to separate citizens from aliens and to checkmate bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, ethnic militias and other criminals in the society.
Elumelu described the proposed operation as an “infringement on the rights of Nigerians”.
“It will be an indirect state of emergency if allowed to take place and the plan contravenes Section 217, sub 2(c, d) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
“The Section reads: ‘The federation shall, subject to an Act of the National Assembly made in that behalf, equip and maintain the Armed Forces, as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of:
“(b) maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea, or air;
“(c) suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the President, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly; and
“(d) performing such other functions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly,” Elumelu said.
Also, Deputy Minority Leader Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu) said the proposed plan is not within the mandate of the Army.
“It is not part of their mandate. We have the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and we have the security apparatus. Unfortunately, we have been under siege by Boko Haram.
“They are simply belabouring themselves with jobs that do not concern them. We have to interrogate this through the Committee on Army,” he said.
Supporting the motion, Ahmadu Jaha (APC, Borno) proposed that the Army should begin offensive attacks “against Boko Haram and bandits in Northeast and Northwest”.
He added: “From Abuja to Maiduguri is 14 hours under normal circumstances. If you ask for identification at every checkpoint, how many days will it take before passengers get to their destination?”
The House unanimously supported the motion.
The House said the proposed exercise was illegal and outside the constitutional mandate of the Army.
Okechukwu such military exercise should have been carried out by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), the police and other civil security outfits and not the Army.
“When we are under attack in the Northeast, Northwest and other parts of the country, the Army wants to do Operation Positive Identification, which is not within their job description,” he said.
He said rather than engage in such am exercise, the soldiers should be deployed to the theatre of war, adding that it will be sad to subject Nigerians to self-identification on the streets when the National Identity Card Management Commission has not been able to provide Identity cards to Nigerians.
He said the House Committee on Army must interrogate the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to know the motive behind the proposed exercise