The Federal Government has declared ‘Operation Amotekun’ as an illegal outfit.
This was disclosed in a statement signed by the Special Assistant, Media and Public Relations (Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice), Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu.
“The setting up of the paramilitary organization called “Amotekun” is illegal and runs contrary to the provisions of the Nigerian law,” the statement read.
Several reactions have continued to flood discussion.
Meanwhile, Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum(SMBLF) has outrightly rejected the declaration by the Attorney – General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami(SAN) declaring Amotekun, the South West security is illegal.
The group in a statement jointly signed by Yinka Odumakin(South West), Gen CRU Iherike (South East), Senator Bassey Henshaw(South South) and Dr Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt) described the declaration as an abuse of office.
“The attention of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum(SMBLF) has been drawn to the illegal diktat by the Attorney – General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami(SAN) declaring Amotekun, the South West security (not military or Police) outfit illegal.
“We consider his action as an abuse of office to suppress the rights of federating units to secure themselves and in furtherance of the widely – held suspicion that sections of the country are deliberately being rendered vulnerable for herdsmen and other criminals by the Federal Government,” the pressure group said.
It further asked the Governors of the South West to ignore Malami and allow him to go to court to challenge their decision as he cannot constitute himself a court over elected governors, in the statement titled, ‘SMBLF Rejects Malami’s Illegal Directive.’
“We are not under military rule,” it declared.
The group insisted that what the Governors have done is what individuals and and neighborhoods can legally do to secure their lives and property.
“The right to preserve your life cannot be under any exclusive list other than the list of those who have no value for human lives.
“The ultra vire action of the AGF has further exposed Nigeria as a country under command and control and governed by a conquest mentality,” it added.
They charged Malami to tell them what makes Amotekun illegal and Hisbah legal.
“He should further explain to us what makes Civilian JTF legal in the North East where there is war and in Kaduna and Kano where there is no war, while Amotekun is his only illegal take.
“This is a defining moment to decide if we are under segregation and different laws in the country,” it concluded.
Before the declaration by the Federal government, daily analysis showed it is natural for every stimulus to be met with a response and every action with a reaction.
Insecurity in Nigeria has grown, almost unabated, in the last few years with each region of the country experiencing its unique and fair share of the crisis. In the North-east, insurgency lingers on. North-West region has witnessed an unprecedented rise in ruthless banditry. In the North-Central zone are the age-long inter-community squabbles and indigene-settler dichotomy. The South-South has experienced violent militancy now manifesting as cultism and gang wars. Secessionist protests often turned violent has heralded the South-East, and the South-West region has also had its dose of cult wars, farmers-herders crisis, amongst others. The highlight of these threatening circumstances should be the efforts of governments (Federal and state) in bringing about policies and action plans that will broker durable peace and security.
In reaction to the inherent security challenges in the South-West, governors of the region converged to set up a regional security organisation code-named ‘Operation Amotekun’ which means ‘Tiger’ in the English language. There has been a massive trail of controversies around this development. The Amotekun is a quasi-security outfit that is expected to complement the efforts of the Nigerian Police Force in the areas of fighting kidnapping, armed robbery as well as farmer-herders face-offs. There have been arguments that the establishment of the security outfit goes contrary to the Nigerian constitution as it seems to be a form of state police. Apologists of Amotekun have compared it with the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) assiduously complementing military efforts in the North-east region. Remarkably, other regions have been beckoned to adopt the Amotekun style and establish something similar. For instance, members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) have commended the groundbreaking move by the Southwestern governors and in the same breath called on their Southeastern counterparts to protect its people by developing something similar to the Amotekun model.
Irrespective of the concerns raised, there are some grey areas around the establishment of the security outfit. The powers and modus operandi of the security unit is not clearly stated, and this will pose a serious challenge. A clear-cut objective, mode of operations and constitutionally-backed powers will eliminate some of the concerns raised against the outfit. It will also guide its members in carrying out the responsibility of providing support to formal security outfits. Importantly, a clearly defined operationalisation roadmap will reduce the risks of clash of functions and jurisdiction between them and other formal security structures.
To ensure that the members of Operation Amotekun do not become security threats in the long run, there should be a robust registration process and an efficient monitoring mechanism that checkmates their activities. Although running as a quasi-security organisation, the management of its members and their activities should be structured like a formal organisation with structures and processes that guide members on the achievement of the organisation’s objectives.
If the suggestions raised in the foregoing are taken into consideration, security in the South-west region will likely improve. For instance, the creation of Amotekun is a source of job creation for people in the region. Equally, with these people being members of the communities they operate in, there is likely to be a positive collaboration between them and formal security units in securitising the environment. In addition to having a better understanding of the local terrains, they will be the eyes and ears of the Nigerian police and other security organisations.
The response of South-west governors to the stimulus of insecurity is hugely commendable as it shows the desire to protect the lives and properties of people, which they are constitutionally obligated to do. Going forward, other regions should map out similar outfits in line with their unique challenges and other environmental factors. If state police is a distant cry, then state governments should find a way in line with the constitution to ensure maximum protection of lives in their domain in the face of emerging trends of violence and insecurity.