Femi Falana, a human rights activist and lawyer, has instituted a legal case against the Nigerian Army, the Chief of Army Staff and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) over the implementation of the ‘Operation Positive Identification’ planned by the army.
Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), filed a suit, marked FHC/L/CS/1939/2019, before the Federal High Court, Lagos, on 25 October against the planned exercise by the army scheduled to hold from 1 November to 23 December 2019.
The senior lawyer in his suit urged the court to halt the implementation of the exercise, arguing that the operation – which would entail Nigerians to move around with a valid means of identification such as the National Identification Card, Voters Registration Card, Drivers’ Licence and passports or other valid official identification – is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.
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According to the court papers filed on his behalf by Funmi Falana and Taiwo Olawanle, Falana posited that the planned exercise limits and violates Nigerians’ fundamental right to movement and liberty as enshrined 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.
He also prayed to the court to grant an interim injunction ordering the army, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Staff; and Abubakar Malami, the AGF, to halt the implementation of the exercise pending the hearing of the substantive suit.
Falana also argued that there was no insurrection in every part of the country that warranted the army to proceed with its operation.
He stated that it is the exclusive preserve of the Nigerian Police Force, and not the Nigerian Army, to maintain law and order in the country in accordance with Section 215 (3) of the 1999 constitution (as amended).
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He noted that in the case of an insurrection, it is the President that has been granted the power by the constitution to deploy soldiers to the affected areas and not the chief of army staff.
“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.
“The 1st respondent (the Nigerian Army) 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 supporting affidavit read.
Falana noted that “irreparable damage may occur” if the exercise is allowed to be implemented.
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