We are in war situation in Nigeria ― Reps, Nigerian Army
• Boko Haram members spreading to various states across country ― Gen Buratai
The House of Representatives and the authorities of the Nigerian Army, on Thursday, affirmed that Nigeria “is currently in a war situation” with the myriad of insecurity challenges facing the country.
Chairman, House Committee on Army, Honourable Abdulrazak Namdas and Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai stated this at the investigative hearing into the planned Operation Positive Identification (OPI) scheduled to take-off as from Friday, 1st to 23rd November, 2019 nationwide.
Honourable Namdas who expressed displeasure over the modalities adopted by the Nigerian Army conveyed the concerns of Nigerians on the planned initiatives which members of the Committee described as ‘unconstitutional’.
While responding to various concerns raised by the lawmakers, General Buratai who was represented by Chief of Civilian-Military Affairs, Major General Usman Mohammed, explained that necessary consultation and approval of only President Muhammadu Buhari, Chief of Defence Staff and Minister of Defence was required.
Gen. Buratai who maintained that though the Constitution has not been suspended, argued that various internal security initiatives being carried out to support other agencies were within the rules of engagements and constitutional though not spelt out.
While affirming that the nationwide operation in collaboration with other security agencies involved in ensuring internal security, General Buratai stressed that Nigerians do not have confidence in the services being provided by the Police, adding that several appeals have been sent to Mr President in the bid to withdraw the troops in some states across the country.
The COAS who explained that the fight against insurgency usually last beyond a decade in some countries where such counter-insurgency operations were being carried out while Nigeria had lasted for barely 10 years, urged all law-abiding Nigerians to go about their normal businesses while the operation lasts.
Buratai explained that the operation was ‘intelligence-based’. He disclosed that the move was to identify and arrest members of the Boko Haram insurgent group who have filtered to various parts of the country, as well as curtail the activities of bandits, kidnappers, cattle rustlers, among others.
While noting that there will be no deployment of troops, mounting of roadblocks, General Buratai explained that Nigerian Army operatives will carry out arrest and profiling of suspects before handing them over to Nigerian Police which is the civil authorities in charge of the prosecution and other relevant security agencies.
He confirmed that several arrests have been made in the previous exercises carried out in the North-East geopolitical zone, adding that the identification of people will not be limited to the conventional means such as National ID card, Driver’s licence and Voter’s card.
Speaking at the post public hearing media chat, Honourable Namdas said: “Truly speaking, what is happening in Nigeria is linked to a war situation. We have issues in the North East in terms of Boko Haram, we have South-South pipeline vandalization, we the North West we have bandits, in the South East we have banditry and cattle rustling and what have you. Virtually it is only in the Southwest that we have a little bit of internal security.
“I think to say we are in a war situation, it is not wrong and that is why we said during the budget defence that the Army should be provided with funds because we are in a war scenario but this should be done within the rule of engagement, that is our take,” Honourable Namdas stressed.
On the take-off of the Operation Positive Identification scheduled for 1st November 2019, Honourable Namdas said: “I think it may not necessarily take off tomorrow, the way it is. We have actually asked them that this thing will require sensitisation, it will require a lot of media work, it will require press conferences, and Nigerians get involved.
“If today, as a member of the National Assembly, I was just informed that what is out there is fake and there is need for us to put the truth out, then we must tell you that it cannot take effect as from tomorrow.