The House of Representatives, on Thursday, approved the commencement of “Operation Positive Identification” across the country as initiated by the Nigerian Army.
The resolution was passed by the House after the adoption of recommendations of the House Committee on Army presented by Hon. Abdulrasak Namdas, at the Committee of the Whole chaired by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Idris Wase.
According to the 11-page report submitted by the Committee, “the operation will be intelligence-led and gear toward arresting insurgents and collaborators, some of which we are already done. Furthermore, it is to rid the FCT and cities of the remnant of insurgents who have escaped the heat of the bombardment.”
In his lead debate, Hon. Namdas disclosed that one of the Boko Haram commandants was arrested by the Nigerian Army in the course of implementation of Operation Positive Identification aimed at curtailing the movement of Boko Haram criminal elements, sympathizers and logistics suppliers as well as bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers,cattle rustlers and other criminals elements fleeing from the North East due to troops’ sustained bombardment and moving to safer areas of the country to perpetrate their heinous crimes.
Pleased by the successes recorded by the Nigerian Army in the previous anti-insurgent exercises carried out, the House resolved that: “The Army can continue with the Operation Positive Identification but in collaboration with other relevant security agencies, such as Nigeria Immigration Service and the Nigeria Police who should take the lead in the identification process.
“A joint intelligence and monitoring team should be set up by the agencies involved in order to checkmate possible abuse of the exercise, such as extortion and assault on the people.
“The Army should regularly brief the Committee on Army for proper assessment of the exercise. The Nigerian Army should disengage from the areas they have successfully completed operations and allow the Police to consolidate on the gains.”
Similarly, the House harped on the need for “serious and urgent attention for training and retraining of Nigeria Police with the view to equip the Police to curtail future insurrection or violence that may occur.
The House also tasked Nigerian Army to embark on serious enlightenment campaign before it commences any operation in the future, in order to “allay the fears of Nigerians that the Military may be used for wrong purpose.”
While expressing his view on the report, the Minority Leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu who urged the House to discontinue the consideration of the report expressed concern over the palpable agitation trailing the presence of armed security operatives in his constituency and other parts of the country.
In the same vein, Hon. Muraina Ajibola who spoke after the adoption of the recommendations urged the Deputy Speaker to give members about 10 minutes to peruse the report to enable them to make informed contributions considering the sensitivity of the security challenges.
However, in his intervention, the Deputy Speaker urged the Secretariat to ensure that the reports of Committee were circulated to members in good time.
Hon. Wase observed that there was a need for the timely takeoff of the OPI to enable the security agencies to track the insurgents, noting that such initiative led to the uncovering of Boko Haram rehabilitation centre in Kogi State.
He, however, urged the members who expressed concerns on the implementation of the Operation Positive Identification to allow the exercise to take off with the view to protect the lives of Nigerians.
As stipulated in the 11-page report obtained by Tribune Online, the Committee affirmed that: “The claim by the Army that insurgents are diffusing into other less criminalized communities is very tenable for such an exercise to be embarked upon.
“Without prejudice to the Police, as at now, the Army is more effective in tackling the challenge.”
The Committee further observed that the series of attacks on the Nigerian Army troops were “made possible by the Boko Haram criminals and their informants/logistics suppliers who were hibernating in these population centres and provided information on troops’ disposition and logistics.”
The Committee further stressed that the conduct of series of military exercises in order geopolitical zones including Exercise Crocodile Smile IV, Atilogwu Udo I and Ayem Akpatuma II to be conducted concurrently in South-South and South West, South East and North Central became necessary owing to the myriad of emergent threats that are life-threatening and rife.