Nigerian military plans operation to demand ID cards from citizens


The Nigerian military has planned a nationwide operation to demand
identity cards from citizens across the country.
‘Operation Positive Identification’ would see soldiers accosting
citizens on the streets or highways and asking them to produce means
of identification on the spot. Soldiers had been taking similar
measures to separate citizens from terrorists in the Boko
Haram-ravaged northeastern part of Nigeria. The military claimed last
month that citizens in the North-east had been cooperating with troops
to make the exercise successful by carrying with them valid identity
But the military announced on September 25 that the exercise will be
extended nationwide to “checkmate bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers,
ethnic militia, cattle rustlers as well as other sundry crimes across
the various regions of Nigeria.”
The announcement came simultaneously with the awareness about the 2019
edition of the military’s anti-crime operations such as ‘Ayem
Akpatuma’ in the North-central; ‘Egwu Eke’ in the South-east and
‘Crocodile Smile’ in the South-south and South-west.
Although ‘Operation Positive Identification’ was initially billed to
commence alongside the anti-crime patrols on October 7, it was held
for additional preparation. Military sources told online medium
Premium Times yesterday that the exercise will now commence early
Citizens have been warned to carry a valid means of identification,
especially voter’s card, national identity card, driver’s license,
international passport, whenever they are going out to avoid being
seen as criminally-minded by soldiers.
Already, some firms have started issuing advisory to their staff
members ahead of the planned military operation.
Meanwhile, some Nigerians who spoke with the medium have condemned the
plan describing it as unconstitutional and controversial.
“It is unconstitutional to ask citizens to carry ID cards or be
treated as suspects,” a human rights activist in Abuja, Kennedy Angbo,
“If law enforcement agencies have a reason to suspect a citizen, they
should go after that citizen and not subject the whole country to
“More than half of Nigerians do not have identity cards, so what do
you expect them to carry around,” the activist said.
Angbo said the military, security and law enforcement agencies should
all work together to evolve a modern policing technique rather than
sticking to crude and dictatorial tactics.
“They should evolve a twentieth-century strategy for securing the
nation rather than threatening citizens to carry ID cards or face
harsh consequences,” he said.
Nigeria has long faced challenges in compiling a unified database of
its citizens. In 2007, a commission was created to register and issue
ID cards to all citizens above 16. But over a decade later, only a few
million people have enrolled and even fewer people had been issued the
plastic identity cards.
“Millions of citizens do not have voting credentials, driver’s licence
or international passport. Millions are unemployed and do not have
work-issued ID cards.
“This seems to me like an attempt to victimise, intimidate and extort
Nigerians,” another rights activist, Moses Yabrade, said from Warri.
Nigerian Army spokesperson, Sagir Musa, and Defence Headquarters
spokesperson, Onyema Nwachukwu, declined the online medium’s calls and
text messages seeking comments about the planned exercise on Sunday.
But in the September 25 announcement he signed, Musa, urged citizens
“not to panic on seeing an increased presence of military personnel.”
He said the military would continue to secure the country, protect
lives and property of all Nigerians through multiple exercises,
including the ‘Operation Positive Identification.’

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