Court halts Operation Positive Identification

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria on Tuesday ordered the Nigerian Army and its Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to suspend the ongoing Operation Positive Identification.

The presiding Judge, Rilwanu Aikawa ordered both parties to maintain status quo pending the determination of substantive suit filed by Human right activist Femi Falana, SAN.

Mr Falana is seeking, an order stopping the operation.

The COAS, the Nigerian Army and the Attorney-General of the Federation are respondents in the suit.

When the matter was mentioned, none of the respondents was in court.

Falana told the court that the respondents had been served with the court processes and that the proof of service was in the court’s file. This was confirmed by the court.

However, Principal State Counsel from the Ministry of Justice, prayed the court to grant an adjournment to enable the Solicitor-General, Mr Dayo Apata, to handle the matter personally and also give the respondents time to harmonise their positions.

Mr Falana did not raise any objection.

The presiding Judge, Justice Aikawa granted his application, saying that “in view of the agreement between both counsels, I ordered the Nigerian Army and Chief of Army staff to maintain status quo, pending the determination of the case.”

He,thereafter, adjourned further proceedings till November 18, 2019.

In the suit, Mr Falana contended that the planned nationwide operation which will run from 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.

He further stated that the operation violates his right and that of other Nigerian citizens to liberty, “as stated in Section 35 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.”

Consequently, he is seeking an interim order restraining the respondents from going on with the plan pending the hearing of the substantive suit.

In a supporting affidavit sworn to by a lawyer Mr Taiwo Olawanle, the plaintiff recalled that on October 8, 2019 the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai disclosed that the Operation Positive Identification, said to be on going in the North East theatre of Boko Haram insurgency war would be extended to cover the entire nation.

He said the operation required Nigerian citizens to move about with legitimate means of identification such as the National Identification Card, Voters Registration Card, Drivers’ Licence and passports or other valid official identification.