The indication that Operation Positive Identification now embodies anarchy and oppression became apparent at the turn of the year in Maiduguri, Borno State after the Governor, Babagana Zulum, accused the military of bribery and extortion in the conduct of the operation. Consequently, the military high command should quickly terminate it.
Zulum’s accusations are contrary to the assurances by the military that the operation would be carried out without human rights violations. Given their antecedents, it is evident that the military cannot keep their word. According to the governor, soldiers were caught at a checkpoint near the state capital openly demanding bribes and extorting money from travellers on the Maiduguri-Damaturu Highway. Publicly, the soldiers – and other security officers there – demanded bribes from travellers who did not have the National Identity Card. The travellers were thus stranded at the checkpoint and subjected to pointless delay, hardship and losses. This is shameful in that soldiers are not ordinary Nigerians; they are supposed to be a cut above the rest in terms of training, discipline, ethics and demonstration of professional integrity.
OPI was birthed in a storm last September. For the military, the aim is to identify and arrest Boko Haram terrorists who have escaped from their strongholds in the forests and have mingled with the local people. To achieve this, the military stated that travellers on the highways in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, the epicentre of the deadly 10-year-long Islamism, would be asked to show their ID cards on-demand. Without considering the sheer logistics of the operation and the implications on democratic institutions, the military later stated that the operation would cover all parts of the country. This elicited protests, making the military to confine it to the North-East.
As expected, OPI has become an out-and-out means of extortion of the citizens. “How can you subject people to this kind of torture all in the name of National ID Card?” a furious Zulum queried. “The Federal Government has not created an enabling environment for our people to get their National ID cards and you (soldiers) are here collecting N500 and N1,000 as a fine for not having what the Federal Government has not provided for all.” This is proof that OPI is a knee-jerk project.
As of October 2019, the National Identity Management Commission stated that only 19 per cent of Nigerians had registered for the ID card. Nigerians go through hell in the process of getting other documents like the driving licence, passport, voter card and yellow fever card. It is insensitive that the military did not factor this in before it commenced OPI.
Although the military is fighting a war against the Islamists, OPI is still unacceptable for the fact that there is no subsisting state of emergency in those three states. It is against Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution that prescribes that Nigerians can move freely in their own country without fear or favour. The military has no legal authority to abridge this right by demanding ID cards from them.
Long before the Borno State governor exposed the OPI saga, soldiers had been cited repeatedly in cases of extortion and human rights violations around the country. In traffic, they bully and oppress road users, deploying superior brute force. The ID card is just a pretext to perpetrate more abuse.
Just last year, a soldier was charged to court for allegedly raping a 300-level student of the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, at a checkpoint in the Ondo State community. Outrageously, soldiers slaughtered three police officers and a civilian shortly after they (police) arrested Hamisu “Wadume” Bala, a suspected kidnap kingpin at a checkpoint in Taraba State, allowing the suspect to escape. In Abia, soldiers flogged and detained young men for wearing dreadlocks, while a soldier tragically shot a motorcyclist there for refusing to part with a bribe.
Nigeria has exited the era of military jackboot. So, the extortionist racket and abuses associated with OPI are a real alibi for Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff, to consign it swiftly to the dustbin. In its place, the OPI and others like Operation Egwu Eke, Crocodile Smile and Ayem Akpatuma should be reviewed comprehensively, bringing them up to best available global democratic practice.
To accomplish its goals, the military needs the support of the local populace. OPI antagonises them because it subjects them to a double dose of pain and insecurity. To get the people on their side, the military should entrench the use of technology, as this is mainly an asymmetric war, in which the enemy is mutating. This, indeed, is not an adversary to fight with a divided front. It does not work that way, at least, for countries battling with Islamism.
To eliminate al-Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden in 2011; the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2019 and a host of other terrorist commanders, the United States and its Western allies relied on information from the locals, before deploying drones, technology and security operatives.
Thus, the military should stop throwing its weight around and get on with the task of defeating Boko Haram with the aid of intelligence and technology. OPI should be limited to the borders, which criminals are exploiting to infiltrate the country. It should surrender internal security operations to the police, who are constitutionally empowered for these duties.
Is Godwin Emefiele, the suspended CBN Governor, a saboteur? Emma Agu asks.
I recently expressed my concerns about the arrest and subsequent detention of Godwin Emefiele, the suspended Governor of the Central Bank. It is important to note that my views on this matter are objective and unbiased.
The Department of State Services (D.S.S) has officially charged Emefiele with various offenses, including illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, criminal breach of trust, incitement to violence, criminal misappropriation of public funds, economic sabotage, economic crimes of national security significance, and undermining security.
However, despite being granted bail by the court, there were incidents where security operatives openly fought to re-arrest him. Due to my history of speaking out against our nation’s problems for many years, I refrained from writing about it as it felt futile. Speaking out on such matters exposes one to unnecessary security risks. Nevertheless, I am compelled to share a few words due to this case’s circumstances.
During former President Buhari’s first term in office, Nnamdi Kanu was arrested and released on bail but later re-arrested in an attempt by the government at that time (which failed to present a solid case)to diminish his influence. The government failed hopelessly over and over again to prove a case against him as they held him indefinitely.
What the government does to Nnamdi Kanu differs significantly from my understanding of justice. Government security operatives are holding Nnamdi Kanu inhumanely. During my last visit to Abuja when his brother, wife, and lawyer paid me a visit, I was informed about Nnamdi Kanu’s inhumane conditions. While I may have had conflicts with Nnamdi Kanu before, the government has yet to prove its case against him; he should be released. Igboland needs peace. The man should be allowed back home unless the Federal Government is content with the prevailing security situation in Igboland.
People should not be detained indefinitely; they should only be charged when sufficient evidence exists for a successful prosecution. It is crucial to treat individuals as human beings regardless of their circumstances. This viewpoint would apply equally if anyone were detained for an extended period without any clear conclusion. The unnecessary chaos involving Nigerian security forces, the executive, and judiciary branches makes Nigeria look like a Banana Republic, and we can do better.
While I am not a lawyer and cannot provide legal analysis on this matter, considering the charges and the unfolding drama, this case presents significant challenges for the government in obtaining a guilty verdict. Additionally, one might question whether he would have been detained if there had been no difficulties for Nigerians in obtaining new Naira notes.
While many of my followers may believe he deserves punishment, I kindly ask you to view this matter objectively. Many people think Bola Tinubu wants to punish him because he was against his candidacy. We are watching closely. The charges against the man might arise from a personal vendetta, suggesting there is more to this situation than meets the eye. The available information accessible to the public is limited, and everyone must pay attention.
Emma Agu, alias AlahBama, writes from New York City.
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Akwa Ibom Corps Member Slaughters Boyfriend
A corps member identified as Princess Odume, was on Monday arrested by the Akwa Ibom police command for the murder of a yet-to-be-identified man.
The young woman, who is said to be a graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, was stripped naked by neighbours of the victim who caught her trying to skip the fence with a machete.
The Akwa Ibom Police Public Relations Officer, Odiko Ogbeche-Macdon confirmed the victim was the alleged murderer’s lover.
He also said, “The police are investigating. The police have her in custody, she committed the act, but as I speak, an investigation is ongoing as to how and why she did it.”
COVID-19 Claims the Life of a House on the Rock Pastor
A House On The Rock pastor, Adeyinka Akinbami(61), lost his life to COVID-19 on Friday, the 8th of January, 2021.
The Senior Pastor, of the church, Paul Adefarasin, urged Nigerians to adhere to the COVID-19 protocols.
“Yesterday (Friday), I received the rude and shocking news of someone deeply dear to me and all of the HOTR family. The passing of Pastor Yinka Akinbami has become most painful because if there truly were good men, he was certainly one. To my brother, sleep well till we meet to part no more.
“Family, kindly allow me to solicit your intercession for his dear wife of over 30 years; Pastor Tolu, his children, his children-in-law, and grandchildren. We can only at best imagine how much pain they are feeling. We share the pain of his loss but they will feel it a lot more.
“It’s important to remind the community about the deadly nature of the COVID-19 and its mutant virus strains. Please do your part by following all the recommended precautions. That way, you are able to protect yourself and others who become proximal to you. God bless and keep us all”, Adefarasin Tweeted.
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