By Alao Abiodun
Claim: Of recent, a viral message on WhatsApp states the House of Representatives has approved ‘Operation Positive Identification’ by the Nigerian Army.
The WhatsApp broadcast warned citizens to always go around with a valid means of identification or risk embarrassments or get arrested by soldiers.
Verdict: The viral message resurfacing in 2021 is MISLEADING.
A 2019 viral whatsapp message resurfaced in 2021 stating that the Nigerian Army is set to carry out an exercise tagged ‘Operation Positive Identification’ with the approval of the House of Representatives.
The message reads:
CARRY YOUR ID CARD EVERYWHERE NOW. THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE HAS APPROVED THE REQUEST OF THE NIGERIA ARMY TO CARRY OUT AN EXERCISE CALLED OPERATION POSITIVE IDENTIFICATION ALL OVER THE NATION. TO THIS END, YOU ARE ADVISED TO CARRY YOUR I.D CARDS ALONGSIDE WITH YOU TO AVOID EMBARRASSMENT.
I.D CARDS, VOTERS CARD, NATIONAL IDENTITY CARD, DRIVERS LICENSE, INTERNATIONAL PASSPORT, ETC. THIS OPERATION HAS ALREADY KICK STARTED. PASS THIS MESSAGE ACROSS TO THOSE IN OTHER PLATFORM.
Checks by The Nation revealed Director of Operations and Training of the Nigerian Army, Major General E.O. Udoh initiated the controversy surrounding the exercise.
Udoh stated at a press conference on September 25 in Abuja that the military was extending Operation Positive Identification, first launched in the North-east, to the rest of the country.
The General said this would help checkmate terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, ethnic militia, cattle rustlers and other crimes across Nigeria.
Similarly, the then Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, while defending the army’s decision before a House of Representatives committee said the exercise would focus on intelligence rather than deployment of troops or mounting roadblocks across the country.
But the House of Representative members were sharply divided by the alleged moves by the Nigeria Army to launch the Operation across the nation.
Despite the explanations, the exercise attracted criticisms from concerned Nigerians, who vehemently opposed it.
Similarly, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, had on October 25 filed a suit against the Nigerian Army, the Chief of Army Staff, and the Attorney-General of the Federation over the exercise.
In 2019 despite the uproar, The Nation learnt that the exercise was not conducted as a nationwide operation; as it only existed in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe state due to the level of insurgency.
Operation Positive Identification exercise in 2019 was done in some selected states but it was not launched nationwide in 2019 nor was it extended to other states.
The viral message resurfacing in 2021 is misleading.
The Nation after a thorough check through the official communication channels of the Nigerian Army and Nigerian Defence Headquarters with reference to timeline of activities in 2021, found out that there is no information concerning the exercise as at the time this fact-check was written.