- Fury grows over Fed Govt’s hammer
- Sagay, Adams, YCE, NANS fault Malami
Angry reactions on Wednesday greeted the Federal Government’s declaration of Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN) Operation Amotekun as illegal.
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami said the power over security exclusively belonged to the Federal Government. He said no part of the federation could “singly or jointly” take security measure.
Malami warned that the law would take its course on any group or association linked with Operation Amotekun.
But on Wednesday, Chairman of the Southwest Governors Forum, Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, said his colleagues in the region were prepared to pursue Operation Amotekun to a successful end.
Lagos, Oyo, Ondo, Ogun, Osun and Ekiti states jointly inaugurated the security outfit on January 9 to secure the zone from criminality.
Akeredolu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) gave the assurance that the Southwest region was committed to checking banditry, kidnapping, farmers and herders clashes, among other forms of criminal activities.
Akeredolu who said “Amotekun is not a para-military outfit,” noted that the introduction of the security outfit is merely to complement the efforts of other security agencies.
Nobel laureate Prof Wole Soyinka chided the Federal Government for its action.
Insisting that the establishment of the security outfit is legal, he urged the Southwest governors to defy the Federal Government.
“Whether they like or not, Amotekun has come to stay, because it is a creation of the people and you cannot deny a people their fundamental right to protect themselves, since government has failed to provide such protection,” Prof Soyinka said while addressing reporters in Lagos.
Soyinka said the current security concerns gave birth to Amotekun. He decried numerous killings of people in the villages across the southwest.
”I refuse to believe that any serious government will condemn the right of a people trying to protect themselves. And now some people who have been sleeping all this time and watching citizens killed, farmers sent away from their land are waking up and telling us this initiative is illegal and unconstitutional. They should go back to sleep.
“This country is sitting on a keg of gun powder implanted by inequality in administration of justice. If President Muhammadu Buhari takes a wrong action on this matter, he will wake up to find that he is the force that tore the country apart. He should stop making excuses,” he said
Soyinka urged the proponents of Amotekun to defy the attorney-general and go ahead with their operation. He challenged the AGF to go to court if he has any objection.
Soyinka added: “I have always believed passionately in self-policing. If it were possible to eliminate any kind of formal policing, I am for it. My preference is always, as much as possible, for community policing.”
He explained further, “This is to show how effective a determined community force can be. Policing the road is not the same thing as going into the forest to confront kidnappers, herdsmen and terrorists, but the policy remains identical.”
Mr. Solomon Asemota, who was a policeman, but now a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), raised concern that Nigeria is operating both the Common Law and the Sharia Law.
He said: “The attorney-general is Sharia compliant. I wrote a 19-page letter to him, which I also made available to the vice president, highlighting some of these things. But he never acknowledged it. I was hoping members of the National Assembly would ask the question when he appeared before them, but they confirmed his appointment.
”There is a conflict in Nigeria between those who believe in democracy and those who decide to use the tenets of their religion to achieve their aim.
”Nigeria is one country with two systems. But I am of the view that the Western states are in order. Either party in this dispute can go do court. Can anyone say the banks do not have a right to hire security guards or that you can’t hire a night watchman to protect your home.”
Asemota added: “Amotekun should not be the only solution. There has to be social action. That is What I am telling the governors that they should move from Amotekun to Arosikun (meaning they should provide food for the people). We must think of ways to feed our people. Hunger is real. Poverty is real and reaching a critical mass. We should start thinking of both Amotekun and Arosikun. “
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyemi Ogunwunsi said the introduction of Amotekun is not to take over the duties of the police or military.
He said the security organisation was established to clamp down on the nefarious activities of insurgents and other security threats in the region.
He said: “The Southwest governors decided to come together to set up Amotekun on complementary basis to support the already established security systems, such as the police and the armed forces, because of existing security realities. The governors, particularly the APC governors, are very close to the Federal Government and are in support of the progress of Nigeria, and the good work of this administration.
“There are some secluded places inside local communities that the armed forces cannot get to. Most breakthroughs in Boko Haram insurgents’ attacks followed results of the tips from the local vigilantes, traditional rulers and district heads.
“They would usually give hints of strange people and movements in their localities. They are the ones furnishing the military with information on where to go during such operations. And this have helped the military to do their job.
“Likewise, Amotekun is established on complementary basis, to give localised intelligent information. And that is the meaning of Amotekun in Yoruba. Like the animal masters its terrain, they have mastered the security intelligence of their terrain.”
Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde, who spoke to reporters in Abeokuta after a visit to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, said: I don’t think the AGF will just wake up and make his own laws.
”He may interpret and advise the President on legal issues but, I haven’t seen anything that gave that power to the AGF to make that declaration.
“You don’t run government on the social media. I am only reading about the Federal Government’s action on Amotekun on the social media like every other person, but If I see a letter or I get a call from the AGF telling me all those things, then it will be a different type of reaction from me.
”If you listen to my speech that day (of the inauguration of Amotekun), I did say that the outfit is complementary to the efforts of the Nigerian Police and other security agencies.
”In Oyo State, the government is placed on four major pillars. They are education, health, security and then expansion of our economy through agribusiness.
”So, security is a major pillar for us and we believe that we cannot have any development in an atmosphere that is not secured.”
The Osun State government ruled out confrontation in resolving issues and the tension being generated by the declaration of the security outfit as illegal by the Federal Government.
Commissioner of Information and Civic Orientation Mrs. Funke Egbemode, said Governor Adegboyega Oyetola would join his Southwest colleagues to find a solution to the matter.
She said: “Our governor is measured and determined to protect the people of the state according to the oath which he swore to. He is aware that the state socio-economic prosperity is anchored on security and he is poised not to shirk his responsibility on this. The economic and investment summit the state government recently held is an indication of the governor’s determination and commitment to improve the fortune of the state and to ensure the state is safe, secured and open to investments.”
She said the personnel of Amotekun had been trained to be civil and keep an eye on the activities of people in their assigned territories, which she said they are familiar with.
She added that the operatives in the Amotekun would work with the Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) in their localities by alerting them promptly on irregular activities they might notice.