Stop Identification Exercise,Court Tells Army

The Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday ordered  the Nigerian Army to suspend  Operation Positive Identification.

Justice Rilwan Aikawa ordered the Nigerian Army and the Chief of Army Staff to maintain the  status quo regarding  the operation pending the determination of a suit challenging it.

The judge made the order following a  request from  human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN).

Falana had filed a suit seeking to stop the OPI,  which requires that all citizens must carry a means of identification to be able to move.

The army had  said the operation would run from November 1 to December 23.

But in a suit marked, FHC/L/CS/1939/2019, Falana argued that such the operation  was a violation of constitutional rights to liberty.

While Falana was in court on Tuesday for the case, the army and the COAS were not represented.

Falana told the court that all the defendants, including the Attorney General of the  Federation, had been served with the processes and that the proof of service was in the case file.

The Solicitor General of the Federation,  Mr Dayo Apata, through a state counsel, prayed for an adjournment to personally defend the case.

Falana did not oppose the application for an adjournment but prayed the court to order  the parties to the suit  to maintain the status quo.

Justice Aikawa granted the prayer and ruled, “In view of the agreement between counsel,  I hereby order the 1st and 2nd defendants to maintain the status quo pending the determination of this case.”

In a supporting affidavit filed along with the suit, Falana recalled that on October 8, 2019 the COAS, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, disclosed that the operation said to be ongoing in the North-East, where the security forces are tackling the  Boko Haram insurgency, 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, voter registration card,  driving licence and passport or other valid official identification.


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