As the operation positive identification organize by the Nigerian Army slated to commence today, Human right lawyer Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) has filed a suit against the Nigerian Army, its Chief of Army Staff and the Attorney-General of the Federation, praying for an order to stop the planned kick-off of Nigerian Army’s Operation ‘Positive Identification’.
The suit marked FHC/L/CS/1939/2019 was filed before the Federal High Court in Lagos on October 25.
The Senior Advocate had in a letter published on the 27th of October, stated that the decision of the authorities of the Nigerian Army to subject law-abiding citizens to personal identification on the road constitutes a gross infringement of their constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights to freedom of movement and dignity.
He further stated that it is a sad reminder of the illegal practice of the white minority rulers which compelled Africans to carry pass books outside their homelands or designated areas under the apartheid regime in South Africa.
In his suit regarding the matter, Falana gave seven grounds for seeking reliefs.
The grounds as given by Falana include:
- By virtue of Section 215 (3) of the Constitution, 1999 as amended, the Nigeria police force has been conferred with the exclusive power to maintain law and order and secure public safety and public order in the country.
- Section 217 (1) of the Constitution empowers the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to deploy the armed forces for the suppression of insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore law and order, but the power cannot be exercised until there is an insurrection or civil disturbance which cannot be contained by the Nigeria police.
- 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 1st November, 2019 to December 23rd, 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.
- The 1st Respondent under the leadership of the 2nd Respondent is not empowered to take over police duties and the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces lacks the power to deploy members of the armed forces in the maintenance of internal security in any part of the country by virtue of Section 217 (a) (b) and (c) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
- The planned nationwide operation by the 1st Respondent scheduled for November 1, 2019 to December 23rd 2019 tagged Operation Positive Identification (OPI) by which the Applicant and other Nigerian citizens would be required to move about with legitimate means of Identification such as National Identification Card, voters Registration Card, Drivers’ License and International passports is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void as it violates the rights of the Applicant and other Nigerian citizens to freedom of movement as encapsulated in Section 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as Amended and Article 12 respectively of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, (Cap A10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
- Unless the Respondents are restrained by an order of interim injunction pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit, irreparable damage may occur.