By Adeola Opeyemi
The Nigerian presidency has spoken on the army operation in the southeast – The presidency said that the presence of army in Abia state or anywhere else is not an invasion – The special assistant to President Buhari on prosecution claims that the president has the power to deploy army to any part of Nigeria it wishes The special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on prosecution, Okoi Obono-Obla, has said there is nothing wrong with the army’s presence in the southeast.
Obono-Obla said that the president has the power to deploy the military to any part of Nigeria and Abia state is still a part of the country. He argued that President Buhari can decide to send the armed forces of Nigeria on police duties if needed, The Nation reports. Obono-Obla, in a statement on Sunday, September 17, said: “It is axiomatic that Abia state constitutes part and parcel of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the president, Commander–in-Chief; President Muhammadu Buhari, has the power to deploy the Armed Forces to any part of the territory that constitutes the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to maintaining and securing public safety and public order.
“It follows that by Section 8 (3) of the Armed Forces Act, the president, in exercise of his powers to determine the operational use of the Armed Forces, direct that the deployment of any branch of the Armed Forces for the purpose of maintaining and securing public safety and public order. “This is precisely what the President did when he deployed the Armed Forces to the Abia State of Nigeria to maintain and secure public safety and public order. Put differently, the President can, in certain circumstances, deployed the Armed Forces of Nigeria to perform police duties.
“Examples of the use of the Armed Forces to maintain law and order sometimes in this country abound; so why are detractors of the Federal Government suggesting that the deployment of the Armed Forces to Abia state or the South East region amounts to invasion?” Citing the provisions of Section 217 subsections 2 (a) (b) (c) of the Constitution, Obono-Obla argued that “grammatically or literarily or contextually the description or branding of the deployment of the Armed Forces of Nigeria to Abia State to maintain public safety and public order as invasion, in the face of threat by IPOB, is absolutely wrong.
“The pertinent question is, what is an invasion? An invasion is a military offensive in which large parts of combatants of one geo-political entity aggressively enter territory controlled by another such entity, generally with the objective of either conquering, liberating or re-establishing control or authority over a territory, forcing the partition of a country.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian army in Enugu has said that the military exercise in the southeast, code-named Operation Python Dance 2 is not targeted at the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu. Colonel Sagir Musa, the deputy director, public relations, 82 Division, on Tuesday, September 12, said this when he briefed newsmen at the NUJ Secretariat, Umuahia, on the activities of troops deployed in Abia for the exercise. Musa, dismissed speculations that the military was laying siege on Kanu, saying that the exercise “is not targeted at the leader of IPOB’’ or anybody or group.