Northern youths condemn Army’s identification operation,Says “We are not under military Government”
YOUTH groups in the northern part of the country have condemned as undemocratic and unpopular, the Operation Positive Identification of the Nigerian Army which took off nationwide on Friday.
In carrying out the operation, men of the Nigerian Army as well as other security agencies will be approaching and stopping people on the streets and highways and telling them to produce, immediately, means of identification as true Nigerian citizens.
The Army authorities say the operation is part of efforts to track down fleeing insurgents and other criminals.
But the national president of the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), Yerima Shettima, described the involvement of soldiers in determining who are true Nigerians as condemnable, saying Nigerians are not in a military era but a democracy.
In an interview with Saturday Tribune on Friday in Kaduna, Shettima said: “This is an unpopular decision that, I am afraid, will not work. I don’t think the military has any business in identifying who is a Nigerian and who is not a Nigerian. This is purely an immigration issue.
“Yes, we are concerned about the influx of foreigners into this country as most of them entered the country without proper documentation. Inasmuch as we want them to come and do business, they should come with clean hands and run legitimate business.”
He said the Nigerian Immigration Service should be the agency concerned about who enters the country with proper documents and who to reject, adding: “I don’t know at what point the military suddenly became Immigration.”
Shettima advised the military to know that “we are in a democracy and not in a military era” and, therefore, tackle properly, the myriads of security challenges bedeviling the country.
However, the commencement of the Operation Positive Identification by the Army witnessed little or no presence of military personnel in Ekiti State on Friday.
We observed that military personnel were only present at the regular checkpoints in the state.
At military checkpoints in Ikere-Ekiti, Itawure-Ekiti, Igbara-Odo and Iworoko-Ekiti, some travellers were seen flashing their identity cards when soldiers stopped their vehicles.
In an interview with news men, a resident of Ikere-Ekiti, Mr Bisi Ajayi, said: “Probably because Ekiti is not a boarder state, there is no heavy presence of the military. It has been the usual checking by security agents, especially military. People are going about their normal businesses.”
Another resident, in Itawure-Ekiti, Victor Akinlola, described the military operation as a waste of efforts and a wrong exercise for the country at the moment.
“At a time when the nation is busy fighting insurgency and all forms of insecurity across the land, I would have expected the government or the military to focus more attention on curbing the menace of insecurity in the land rather than deploying soldiers from the warfront to the streets to cause apprehension among the populace,” Akinlola said.
He said the programme was anti-people and an infringement on the rights of citizens to free movement, adding: “An exercise like this can only be appreciated if it is taken to the border to ward off uncontrolled movement of illegal immigrants into the country.”
On his part, Chief Kola Adeyemi, a resident of Ado-Ekiti, said: “It is very surprising to note that the government could exhibit such wickedness by deploying soldiers among civilians when citizens are still groaning under the unilateral closure of borders against importation of goods. This is a calculated attempt to imprison and padlock citizens.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army has launched “HolisticOperation” as part of efforts to curtail the security challenges posed by bandits and other criminal elements in the North Central and the North West.
The General Officer Commanding 1st Mechanised Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Major-General Farouk Yahaya, said the operation codenamed Ayem Akpatuma 2 was targeted fleeing bandits in the numerous forests dotting the borders of Niger State with neighbouring Zamfara, Kebbi and Kaduna states in the north-western part of the country.
“Niger State, which is suffering from the spillover of the security situation from Zamfara, Kebbi and Kaduna states in the north-western part of the country, constitutes about 10 per cent of Nigeria’s land mass with 95 forest reserves,” General Yahaya noted.
The military top brass, who stated this during the flag-off of the exercise on Thursday in Minna, stated that the operation, also comprising personnel of the Nigeria Police and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), was designed to “holistically checkmate” the constant threats of banditry and other criminal activities in the north central and north-western part of the country.