President Muhammed Buhari is within his legal purview to deploy the Nigerian military to conduct policing duties in order to maintain peace and national stability, the Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Prosecution, Okoi Obono-Obla has asserted.
In a statement released to the media over the weekend, the SSA cited Section 8 (1 – 3) of the Armed Forces Act to justify the deployment of military boots to conduct Operation Python Dance, a military exercise in Abia, the headquarters of Independent People of Biafra (IPOB).
He 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?”
Obono-Obla countered those who referred to the military exercise as an invasion. He said,
“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.”