OPI: Falana, Nigerian Army battle in court Dec. 12

Femi Falana (SAN)

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria on Thursday fixed 12 December for hearing a suit instituted against the Nigerian Army to suspend the Operation Positive Identification, OPI, by a human right lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN.

When the matter was mentioned today, Mr Falana SAN told the court that he needed time to file a response to the objections filed by the defendants.

About three weeks ago, the court had ordered the Nigerian Army and its Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to suspend the ongoing OPI.

The presiding Judge, Rilwanu Aikawa ordered both parties to maintain status quo pending the determination of substantive suit filed by Mr. Falana.

Falana is seeking, an order stopping the operation. The COAS, the Nigerian Army and the Attorney-General of the Federation are respondents in the suit.

In the suit, Falana contended that the planned nationwide operation which would run from November 1 to December 23, 2019, by which Nigerian citizens would be required to move about with means of identification was unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.

He further stated that the operation violated his right and that of other Nigerian citizens to liberty,“ as stated in Section 35 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as Amended and Article 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, (Cap A10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

Consequently, he is seeking an interim order restraining the respondents from going on with the plan pending the hearing of the substantive suit.

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A press statement by the Embassy on Friday, said: “During the visit, Townsend met with the Nigerian President’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, and National Security Adviser, Babagan Monguno, to discuss regional security issues and to express the command’s gratitude for the assistance provided during a hostage rescue operation last year.

“When we asked for their help, the Nigerian government answered the call. Our hostage recovery mission in October would have been impossible without their support.

“They quickly provided assistance that helped the U.S. military to save an American life. That is a strong example of our partnership with Nigeria.”

Townsend also met with senior military officials, including the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magash, and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor, to talk about on-going cooperation in the region and greater maritime security and threat mitigation.

Nigeria is a key partner in countering violent extremist organizations throughout the Lake Chad Basin.

Townsend said furthermore: “The bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the U.S. is built on several pillars including security cooperation.

“U.S. Africa Command will do our part to advance the security cooperation pillar, so that Nigerians can enjoy the more secure future they all deserve.”

As close partners, the U.S. and Nigeria have worked at ensuring the collaborative relationship continues to grow to include a commitment to interoperability. Nigeria purchased 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, which will be delivered later this year.

“Nigeria’s purchase of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft is another example of their commitment to interoperability and security in the region,” he added. “Our economic relationship with Nigeria is already strong, and we look forward to the continued strengthening of security relationships. Nigeria’s leaders understand the importance of a collaborative approach to ensuring stability in West Africa and partnering on areas of mutual interest.”

The Commander also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard.

Leonard said: “General Townsend’s visit to Nigeria demonstrates the strategic importance the United States places on our bilateral relationship with Nigeria.

“Our security cooperation partnership with Nigeria’s military will strengthen the country’s capabilities to secure land and sea borders, enhance overall security, and combat terrorism in the North East.”

As part of the visit, Townsend participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Nigeria Military National Cemetery to honour those who have given their lives in the service of their nation.

During the visit, the delegation expressed their condolences for the seven service men killed in the crash of a Nigerian Air Force aircraft in Abuja.