By Christiana Ekpa
The Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu raises concerns over the planned nationwide implementation of Operation Positive Identification (OPI) by the Nigeria Army, describing such as a recipe to possible militarilization of Nigeria.
The Minority Leader, in a statement on Monday, maintained that such plan by the army would lead to the infringement on fundamental rights of Nigerians, as enshrined in the 1999 constitution (as amended).
Hon. Elumelu stressed that the plan, if allowed, would downgrade innocent Nigerians to suspects and conquered people in their own country; strip them of their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of movement and instill fear, anxiety and panic in the entire polity.
The opposition leader noted that the nationwide operation would also amount to an indirect imposition of a state of emergency across the country by the Army.
The Minority Leader contended that such military operations that involves direct contact and regulating of civilians could result in abuses and serious safety issues, especially at this time the nation is battling with the scourge of victimization and extrajudicial killings.
Furthermore, Hon. Elumelu pointed out that many Nigerians, particularly those living in the rural areas, would be victimized, as there has not been enough public sensitization for such security operation.
The Minority Leader noted that though the nation is faced with serious security challenges and of course, appreciates the efforts by security agencies to safeguard lives, the planned implementation of OPI across the nation would worsen the situation in the country.
The Army and all security forces should rather develop more pro-people strategies in combating our security challenges instead of measure that could further victimize the people.
The opposition leader however urged the Army to concentrate on its constitutional role of defending the territorial integrity of the country and allow the police and other relevant agencies such as Nigerian Immigration Services (NIS) to handle regulatory issues relating to internal security.
He therefore called on President Muhammadu Buhari, as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to review the planned commencement of nationwide execution of the OPI by the military on November 1, so as to create room for further consultations.