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The Defence Headquarters has said Operation
Positive Identification, which began on Friday (today ), is meant to flush out “foreign combatants infiltrating our borders and conducting attacks.”
The acting Director, Defence Information , Colonel
Onyema Nwachukwu, in an interview with NewsToday in Abuja on Thursday, said the exercise would focus mainly on bandits and criminal elements.
Nwachukwu said this just as a human rights lawyer , Mr Femi Falana (SAN ), sued the Nigerian Army , its Chief of Army Staff and the Attorney – General of the Federation , praying for an order stopping the Operation Positive Identification by the army.
But the Chief of Army Staff , Let- Gen Tukur Buratai, who appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on the Army, defended the operation, saying any means of
identification would be accepted during the
Early in September , the Nigerian Army had said that it would embark on Operation Positive Identification. On September 25 , the Nigerian Army, in a statement by the acting Director of Army Public Relations , Col Sagir Musa, said the
operation would be extended nationwide to “check out for bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers , ethnic militia, cattle rustlers as well as other sundry criminals across the various regions of Nigeria.”
The acting Director , Defence Information , Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, in the interview with one of our correspondents, noted that the operation was to fish out foreign attackers, bandits and fighters.
Defending the exercise , the acting director of defence information said the operation was first conducted in the North – East.
According to him, Operation Room Assessment,
which the military conducted in the North-East
after Operation Positive Identification , led to the arrest of top Boko Haram commanders.
He said this made the military to see the need to
extend the OPI to other regions.
He said , “Operation Positive Identification was
first of all conducted in the North – East of
Nigeria. What actually led to that operation was because there were sleeper cells of the Boko Haram and the Islamic State West African Province members that infiltrated the populace.
“For instance, during one of the combat operations with the insurgents, the military found a brand new mobile phone on a dead terrorist and also the receipt of the phone which had just been obtained from a market.
This means that he had bought that phone and had been in town just days before he returned to the forests to meet the terrorist commanders.
So , such instances give us the intelligence that
the Boko Haram members infiltrate the towns
in the North – East.
“ So it was a successful operation in the North –
East as several Boko Haram commanders and
members were arrested and many weapons recovered. That operation was not all about the
army; other services of the military and other
security agencies partook in it.
“We adjudged the operation as successful in the
North-East and it was decided that such operation should be extended to other theatres of operation such as the North-West and North-Central, where we have had issues of foreign combatants infiltrating our borders and encroaching on our country and conducting attacks on Nigerians who live on the fringes of these borders.
“We have had encounters with these infiltrations through forests in Zamfara, Sokoto and others being used as enclaves in the North-West. So we decided to extend the operation to other regions so as to address these cross-border criminals .