Deployment of the Military to Abia State or the South East Region is not an ‘’Invasion” Okoi Obono-Obla, Senior Special Assistant to The President on Prosecution and Chairman Special Presidential Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Says.
According to him “It is bunkum, absurd and hogwash for anybody to suggest that the deployment of Armed Forces to the South East to maintain law and order in the face of an apparent breakdown of law and order on account of the terroristic activities of the so-called Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) tantamount to an invasion of Abia State or the South East Region.”
Is Abia State not part of the Federal Republic of Nigeria? The answer must be in the affirmative.
Speaking further he stated that “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 constitute the Federal Republic of Nigeria to maintaining and securing public safety and public order.”
Section 8 (1) of the Armed Forces Act provide thus: The President shall determine the operational use of the Armed Forces, but may, under general or special directives, delegate his responsibility for the day-to-day operational use—
(a) of the Armed Forces, to the Chief of Defence Staff;
(b) of the Army, to the Chief of Army Staff;
(c) of the Navy, to the Chief of Naval Staff; and
(d) of the Air Force, to the Chief of Air Staff.
(2) It shall be the duty of the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff and the Chief of Air Staff, as the case may be, to comply with any directive given to them by the President under subsection (1) of this section.
(3) In this section, “operational use of the Armed Forces” includes the operational use of the Armed Forces in Nigeria for the purpose of maintaining and securing public safety and public order.
It follows that by Section 8 (3) of the Armed Forces Act (supra) 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.” Obono Obla said.
In buttressing his point he said “Put it another way, the President can in certain circumstances deployed the Armed Forces of Nigeria to perform police duties.”
According to him “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’’.
Indeed, Section 217 subsections 2 (a) (b) (c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 provide thus:
(2)The Federation shall, subject to an Act of the National Assembly made in that behalf, equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of –
(a) defending Nigeria from external aggression;
(b) maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea, or air;
(c) suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the President, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.
“I therefore submit 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 in the face of threat by IPOB is absolutely wrong,” Senior Special Assistant said.
The pertinent question is what is an invasion?
According to Chief Obono “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, altering the established government or gaining concessions from said government, or a war combination thereof. An invasion can be the cause of a, or be a part of a larger strategy to end a war, or it can constitute an entire war in itself. Due to the large scale of the operations associated with invasions, they are usually strategic in planning and execution.”
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A Report Of The Judgement Of The 16 Divisions Of The Court Of Appeal In Nigeria