Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has said the Nigerian Army lack the power to implement “Operation Positive Identification”.
Ruling on the case, Justice Aikawa stated that the Nigerian Army has no power under the Nigerian constitution to subject civilians to such positive identification process adding that the fundamental rights of the Nigerian people to liberty and freedom of movement would be breached by the planned positive identification.
Justice Rilwan Aikawa, in a ruling on Friday, sustained a suit filed by Femi Falana (SAN) over the planned implementation of the “Operation Positive Identification’ by the Nigerian Army.
The activist lawyer had filed the Fundamental Rights Enforcement suit on October 25, 2019 against the planned exercise by the Army, scheduled to hold from 1 November to 23 December 2019.
The respondents in the suit are the Nigerian Army, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Salami (SAN).
Aikawa also insisted that Falana has the locus standi to have instituted the suit as he dismissed the objections of the Attorney General of the Federation and the Nigerian Army to the applicant’s suit.
Falana in his suit emphasised that it is illegal and unconstitutional for the court to uphold an act that would require 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 pleading the court to dismiss the idea behind the exercise.
He argued that it is unconstitutional for the military to mount checkpoints on highways anywhere in the country as he cited several authorities.
The human rights lawyer maintained that it is the work of the police to conduct identification process on civilians.
Galena argued that the respondents have not given valid reasons why soldiers must take over the duties of the police.
He also stated the his plea before the court pertains to his right to life, liberty, and freedom of movement just as every other Nigerian who could get shot by soldiers if they fail to produce any means of identification on demand adding that the appellate courts have ruled severally that the army has no business in civil actions neither are they allowed to get involved in elections.
Falana had therefore urged the court to grant his fundamental rights application which he emphasised are completely backed by Chapter 4 of the Constitution.