Court Halts Operation Positive Identification

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Operation Positive Identification by the Nigerian Army was stopped by the order of the court on Tuesday. Justice Rilwan Aikawa ordered the Nigerian Army and the Chief of Army Staff to maintain the status quo in respect of the operation pending the determination of a suit challenging it.

October 8, 2019, the COAS, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, disclosed that the operation said to be ongoing in the North-East, where the security forces are tackling the  Boko Haram insurgency, would be extended to cover the entire nation. According to the Army Chief, Tukur Buratai who spoke to the House of Representative, the operation is to arrest cross -border bandit, the foreign combatant infiltrating Nigeria border and conducting an attack.  The operation is to involve all security agencies, both those who are involved in the kinetic and non-kinetic operations.  The army had said the operation would run from November 1 to December 23.

He said the operation required Nigerian citizens to move about with legitimate means of identification such as the National Identification Card, voter registration card,  driving licence and passport or other valid official identification.

In a reaction, Femi Falana said the Army doesn’t have the constitutional right to usurp the powers vested on the Nigeria Police in the nation’s internal security. “Constitution has vested the police the powers of maintaining internal security in Nigeria while the Armed Forces are in charge of defending the territorial integrity of the country.” Falana says it is “planned harassment and intimidation of Nigerians.”

Subsequently, Falana approached the court to stop it and in a suit marked, FHC/L/CS/1939/2019, Falana argued that such operation was a violation of constitutional rights to liberty.  Falana was in court on Tuesday for the case, while the COAS was not represented.

The Solicitor General of the Federation,  Mr Dayo Apata, through a state counsel, prayed for an adjournment to personally defend the case. Falana did not oppose the application for an adjournment but prayed the court to order the parties to the suit to maintain the status quo.

Justice Aikawa granted the prayer and ruled, “In view of the agreement between counsel,  I hereby order the 1st and 2nd defendants to maintain the status quo pending the determination of this case.”