The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, has said the Operation Positive Identification (OPI) would not hinder the day-to-day activities of Nigerians.
Buratai made this known while fielding questions from the House of Representatives Committee on Army in Abuja on Thursday.
Represented by the Chief of Civil-Military Affairs, Maj. Gen. Usman Muhammed, the army chief said the army had submitted a detailed report on the OPI to the committee.
He said the military is involved in Operation Lafia Dole in the North-East and that there are other sub-operations within the major operation. Buratai said that the OPI is one of the sub-operations which is ongoing in the North-East zone.
According to him, based on credible intelligence, Boko Haram terrorists are no longer in their enclaves, they are spreading out away from their traditional strongholds.
The Army Chief said the OPI which started on September 22 in the North-East was based on the intelligence.
Buratai said the military has a tradition of initiating operations towards the end of the year to reduce crime during the Yuletide.
“We have exercise Ayama Kpatuma in the North-Central, Atilogwu Udor in the South-East and Crocodile Smile in the South-South and they are aimed at addressing the security challenges in those zones.
“It is a training exercise and at the same time, it is a true operation whereby we use the opportunity to carry out activities to checkmate criminality and crime within those areas.“This time around, we feel that we can extend the OPI to some of these areas where we are going to conduct some of these exercises,” he said.
He explained that the OPI is an intelligence-led activity based on credible information by which the army go to specific areas and effect arrests. Buratai said that some insurgents have been arrested.
He said that the citizens would not notice any change in their day-to-day activities and that there would not be extra checkpoints.
Buratai said there would not be additional troops on the streets and the rules of engagement would be thoroughly observed.
He said that the operation was in collaboration with other security agencies like the National Intelligence Agency, the Department of State Services among others.
“The exercise is nothing too different, it is something that is going to assist us to add value to what we are doing in the North-East,” he added.
Buratai said that President Muhammadu Buhari was in support of the operation as well as the Minister of Defence and the Chief of Defence Staff.
Earlier, the Chairman, Rep. Abdulrazak Namdas (APC-Adamawa) said that the house has it on good authority that the Army intends to commence OPI on November 1 nationwide.
He said that majority of Nigerians understand the OPI to mean carrying some form of identification when they go about their daily activities.
Namdas said that though the major role of the army is to safeguard the territorial integrity of Nigeria when there critical internal security challenges, the army could be invited.
“We are happy that the army has been doing that in the South-South, North-West, North-Central and in the North-East.
Namdas said there were a lot of issues in the zones ranging from Boko Haram, pipeline vandalism, kidnapping, cattle rustling, banditry among others.