The Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Buratai on Thursday said that the Operation Positive Identification (OPI) would not hinder the day-to-day activities of Nigerians.
Buratai made this known while fielding questions from the House of Representatives Committee on Army in Abuja.
Represented by the Chief of Civil-Military Affairs, Maj.-Gen. Usman Muhammed, Buratai said that the army had submitted a detailed report on the OPI to the committee.
He said that the military is involved in ‘Operation Lafia Dole’ in the North East and that are other subsidiary operations within the major operation.
Buratai said that the OPI is one of the subsidiary operations which is ongoing in the North East zone.
According to him, based on credible intelligence on Boko Haram terrorists, they are no longer in their enclaves, they are making a lot on in routs, spreading out away from their traditional strongholds.
The Chief said that the OPI which started on Sept. 22 in the North East was based on the intelligence.
Buratai said that the military has a tradition of initiating operations towards the end of the year to reduce crime during the Yuletide.
“We have exercise Ayama Kpatuma in the North Central, Atilogwu Udor in the South East and Crocodile Smile in the South South are aimed at addressing the security challenges in those zones.
“It is a training exercise and at the same time, it is a true operation whereby we use the opportunity to carry out activities to checkmate criminality and crime within those areas.
“This time around, we feel that we can extend the OPI to some of these areas where we are going to conduct some of these exercises,” he said.
He explained that the OPI is an intelligence led activity based on credible information by which the army go to specific areas and effect arrests.
Buratai said that some insurgents had been arrested though the process in the North East where the operation is ongoing.
He said that the citizens would not notice any change in their day-to-day activities and that there would not be extra check points.
Buratai said that there would not be additional troops on the streets and the rules of engagement would be thoroughly observed.
He said that the operation was in collaboration with other security agencies like National Intelligence Agency (NIA), the Department of State Service (DSS) among others.
“The exercise is nothing too different, it is something that is going to assist us add value to what we are doing in the north east,” he added.
Buratai said that President Muhammadu Buhari was in support of the operation as well as the Minister of Defence and the Chief of Defence Staff.
Earlier, the Chairman, Rep. Abdulrazak Namdas (APC-Adamawa) said that the house has it on good authority that the Army intends to commence OPI on November 1 nationwide.
He said that majority of Nigerians understand the OPI as carrying some form of identification when they go about their dialy activities.
Namdas said that though the major role of the army is to safeguard the territorial integrity of Nigeria, when there critical internal security challenges, the army could be invited.
According to him, we are happy that the army has been doing that in the South South, North West, North Central and in the North East.
Namdas said that there were a lot of issues in the zones ranging from Boko Haram, pipeline vandalism, kidnapping, cattle rustling, banditry among others.
“Giving the quantity 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 so we called you to explain more,” he said.
Namdas said that the committee and indeed Nigerians needed to know what the OPI is about and how it would be implemented.
Rep. Prestige Ehiriodu (APGA-Abia) urged the army to put on a human face when carrying out the operation.
He said that it was important for the citizens to see the Army as friends and not as enemies while carrying out the operation.
Also, Rep. Shina Peller said that the Army should be commended and supported for coming up with new ideas to deal with security challenges in the country.
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The Armed Forces are said to be complaining of insufficient funds to do their work, and “Operation Positive Identification,” unnecessary but at best a police job, is going to be very expensive and will end up only intimidating the public already fatigued from conquest bids by armed herdsmen, attacks by armed robbers, kidnappings, assassinations and other crimes.
Now that Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi is reported to have been killed, why not use the energy to intensify the Boko Haram war at this stage when they are likely to be demoralised?