THE Nigerian military has the power to civilians wanted. Tukur Buratai, a lieutenant general and chief of Army Staff, has declared following the arrest of Ahmed Salkida, a journalist, over links with Boko Haram sect. He said the arrest had vindicated that the Nigerian military could declare a civilian wanted.
Buratai was reacting to reports credited to Femi Falana, SAN and a human rights lawyer, who had argued that the military lacked power to declare civilians wanted.
According to the Army chief, in the course of securing the country from terrorism, the military has the power to summon any person to assist them with the task.
Buratai, in a statement issued by Ugochukwu Osuagwu, his lawyer and human rights activist, obtained by journalists in Abuja, argued that in the course of questioning any person who is suspected to have links with terrorists, the Army could refer the person to appropriate agencies for further investigation and prosecution, especially where the facts were available.
“I do not see how any person would suggest that the Nigerian Army or Military would allow any person they suspect may interfere with the war against terrorism to go scot free simply because the person wears a civilian garb or is a civilian? Certainly Public safety and National Security would not encourage such. Rather than condemn the Nigerian Army for declaring certain persons wanted or summoning any person, we should commend them for their sound intelligence gathering,” he said.
Besides, he said the Nigerian Army derives its full powers from Section 217 of the Constitution “to summon or declare any suspected person wanted in the course of defending Nigeria’s territorial space from terrorists and rebels.” According to him, with the constitutional provision, the military does not need to wait for the inspector general of Police or head of State Security Service, SSS, to act swiftly.
Besides, Buratai pointed out that Defence Intelligence Agency, DIA, as one of the several law enforcement agencies of the military is empowered under Section 40 Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 to prevent acts of terrorism and investigate as well.
The Army chief submitted that “the Nigerian Army has full powers to summon any suspected person and also declare same wanted where it deems fit in pursuance of its mandate both under the Nigerian Constitution and the TPA 2011. The power of the Nigerian Army to declare Civilians wanted is unshakeable, recognised by law and unwavering.”
He warned: “Any person who thinks otherwise should better do a re-think and amend his or her ways to respect constituted authorities who seek information from them that will aid the fight against terrorism.”
Above all, enjoined Nigerians to support the military in their efforts in ousting terrorists from the country rather than criticising its efforts in the fight.
— Sep 7, 2016 @ 16:40 GMT