As Operation Positive Identification begins nationwide today, the Nigerian Army on Thursday allayed fears of right abuses against citizens.
The operation involves soldiers requesting people to identify themselves as part of efforts to track down fleeing insurgents and other criminals.
The operation started in the Northeast on September 22.
Chief of Army Staff Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, who appeared before the House of Representatives on Thursday, explained how the operation would be carried out.
Gen. Buratai told the House Committee on the Army that the operation would be intelligence-led.
He said there would be no deployment of troops or mounting of roadblocks.
The Army chief said the public may not even notice his men in the course of the exercise.
According to him, it is targeted at identifying fleeing Boko Haram members and other criminals.
He emphasised that the public had nothing to worry about.
But the lawmakers fear the military, by its training, may engage in excesses.
They wondered whether the Army has the constitutional right to carry out the proposed exercise.
The committee’s members were divided on whether the Army should be allowed to go ahead with the exercise.
Some were not convinced that rights will not be violated.
Gen. Buratai represented by the Director, Civil/Military Affairs at the Army Headquarters, Maj-Gen. U.S. Mohammed, said Nigerians would not notice any significant changes from the ongoing military operations in the country.
Buratai said: “What is happening is that the military has been involved in Operation Lafiya Dole in the Northeast. Within the major operation, we have subsidiary operations and one of them is this Operation Positive Identification.
“It came about as a result of positive information about the activities of Boko Haram in the Northeast the fact that they are making inroads to other parts of the country.
“From our intelligence, they are spreading from their traditional stronghold. Based on that, this idea came up to embark on our cordon and search operations. We will make some arrest and do some identification. The operation started on the 22nd of September, 2019.
“For this period of the year, the military has introduced some exercises aimed at tackling the security challenges in parts of the country. It is aimed at training ourselves and carrying our security operations. We use the opportunity to carry out specific and targeted activities.
“We felt that as these exercises are going on, we should carry out the Operation Positive Identification to areas where we are going to carry out these exercises. It is nothing new.
“Operation Positive Identification is intelligence-led activity. Based on credible information, we go to certain areas, make an arrest and profile those arrested by identifying them and through that, we may be able to identify some Boko Haram members and other criminals.”
The Army chief stressed that there would not be an increase in the number of troops.
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