- Posted by Editor
- On November 5, 2019
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Okowa differs with Elumelu on military operation in Delta
By Barth Ozah
AS the Nigerian Army flagged-off its ‘Operation Crocodile Smile IV’ exercise recently in Delta State, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the minority leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu have differed sharply on the rationale behind the operations.
While governor Okowa noted that the military operation was a training exercise to help soldiers brush up their military capabilities, including the overall objective of promoting confidence of the Nigerian Army towards curbing crimes, especially in checking cases of kidnapping, cultism and armed robbery, Elumelu on the other hand raised concerns over the nationwide implementation of Operation Positive Identification (OPI) by the Nigeria Army, saying it was a recipe for possible militarization of the country.
Governor Okowa who spoke at the flagged-off of the military exercise in Aladja, Warri promised the readiness of government to continue to support the operation of the Army in the state to achieve the desired operational success required for peace.
The Governor who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Chiedu Ebie, noted that the operation was a training exercise to help soldiers of 63 Brigade, and commended the army for carrying out the exercise in the state, adding that, the Nigerian Army had remained disciplined and very professional in the discharge of its duties.
He expressed the hope that the exercise would further strengthen the partnership between the army and the government in working toward reduction of crime and other violence not only in the state but across the country.
Governor Okowa noted that inter agency understanding was key in checking criminality and violence in the society, stressing the need for security agencies to work in harmony with a view to bringing the security challenges across the country under control.
He warned criminals to desist from nefarious activities, saying that, government would work with security agencies to ensure that anyone caught in the act would face the full wrath of the law.
But Elumelu in a press statement said that such a plan by the army would lead to the infringement on fundamental rights of Nigerians as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution stressing that the plan, if allowed, would downgrade innocent Nigerians to suspects and conquered people in their own country.
Elumelu who is representing Aniocha, Oshimili Federal Constituency at national assembly, said that it could strip citizens of their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of movement, instil fear, anxiety and panic in the entire polity, adding that the nationwide operation would also amount to an indirect imposition of a state of emergency across the country by the Army.
He pointed out that such military operations that involved direct contact and regulating of civilians could result in abuses and serious safety issues.
Elumelu said that many Nigerians, particularly those living in the rural areas, would be victimized especially as there had not been enough public sensitization for such security operation.
According to him, though the nation is faced with serious security challenges, the planned implementation of OPI across the nation will worsen the situation in the country.
He urged the Army to concentrate on its constitutional role of defending the territorial integrity of the country and allow the police and other relevant agencies such as Nigerian Immigration Services to handle regulatory issues relating to internal security.