A Human Rights Activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Femi Falana has sued the Nigerian Army and the Attorney-General of the Federation over plans to start arresting Nigerians who do not have any means of identification.
Recall that the Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai, on October 8, 2019, had disclosed that the Operation Positive Identification, ongoing in the North East theatre of Boko Haram insurgency would be extended to cover the entire nation.
However, the human rights lawyer argued that the planned operation violates his right and that of other Nigerian citizens to liberty, as encapsulated in Section 35 respectively of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as Amended and Article 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, (Cap A10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
Mr Falana, In the suit marked FHC/L/CS/1939/2019, said the planned nationwide operation scheduled for November 1, to December 23, 2019, by which Nigerian citizens would be required to move about with means of identification is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.
The human rights lawyer also filed an order seeking an interim injunction restraining the three defendants from going on with the plan pending the hearing of the substantive suit.
Mr Falana argued, through his lawyers, Funmi Falana and Taiwo Olawanle, who filed the suit on his behalf, that by virtue of Section 215 (3) of the Constitution, the Nigeria police force “has the exclusive power to maintain law and order and secure public safety and public order in the country” and not the army.
He added that, going by section 217(1) of the Constitution, the Nigerian President could only deploy the armed forces for the suppression of insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore law and order.
“There is no insurrection in every part of the country which the Nigeria police cannot contain to warrant the deployment of armed troops all over the country from November 1, 2019, to December 23, 2019.
“Neither the Constitution nor the Armed Forces Act Cap A20 LFN, 2004 has empowered the Nigeria Army to arrest any citizen who is not subject to service law,” Mr Falana said.