The fuss about ‘Amotekun’, newly launched South-West security outfit and its operation
After a series of kidnapping and murder, the south-west governors finally took a bold step to secure the region. The region has always been the most peaceful part of the country until it became dreaded in kidnapping and robbery. These governors finally wake up from their slumber when somewhere around June 2019, a regional security summit was called in Ibadan. The result of this gave birth to a security outfit to supplement the work of the police. This initiative is known as ‘Amotekun’, ‘Operation Leopard’.
Over the past few days, this initiative has been welcomed by the people of the region. They see this as an alternative development to the dysfunctional state of the Nigerian Police. In the past, many cases involving insecurities, ranging from kidnapping, murder, robbery and so on, has affected the citizens. Either them or their family members, directly or indirectly, will have a story to tell.
The deadly scenario does not exclude the people in government. Everybody was left disarray in 2015 when a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Olu Falae was kidnapped by herdsmen in his farm in Akure. In spite of an intervention from the President who ordered the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to rescue the abductee unhurt, the later still had to pay N5 million to regain his freedom.
Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, also had a horrible experience with some armed men who attempted to halt his convoy and attack him before he managed to escape. The murder of Reuben Fasoranti by suspected herdsmen along Ore road made everybody realised it has been engraved in the state of insecurity. These and many other unsolved kidnapping, robbery and murder cases lingering in the once-peaceful region.
Operation ‘Amotekun’ and FG fuss
After the conclusion to begin the operation of ‘Amotekun’, a report revealed that some ‘big people in Abuja’ are not so happy with the initiative. They say it is a move in the realization of the restructuring the region has been clamouring for. This murmuring triggered the claim about the operation is an alternative to the Army or giving less relevance to the function of the Police.
But the Director-General, Development Agenda for Western Nigeria, Seye Oyeleye, said Operation Amotekun was not an alternative Army.
He stated, “I want to disabuse the thinking that we want to set up an alternative army. This is community policing and in 2020, policing has to be local. That is the idea behind Operation Amotekun.
“I have heard people say the police will not allow it to work. But I say Operation Amotekun will, in fact, help the police because they are the local people that know everywhere and understand the terrain very well. The police cannot say they know all the forests and bushes in the South-West.”
Constitutionality or otherwise of Operation ‘Amotekun’
The question of whether or not operation ‘Amotekun’ is legal has also sparked controversy. This has brought about the interpretation of section 214 and 215 of the Constitution which only recognise the Nigeria Police Force as the agency responsible for the provision of security in the states of the federation.
Section 214(1) says “There shall be a police force for Nigeria, which shall be called the Nigeria Police Force and, subject to the provisions of this section no other police force shall be established for the federation or any part thereof.”
However, this section has not been in direct conflict with Chapter II, Section 14(2))(b) of the Nigerian Constitution.
The section states that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government…”
Also, several legal personnel in the country has intervened in giving an interpretation of the legal crisis.
An Akure-based Lawyer, Femi Emodamori opined that “Launching a security outfit is not necessarily operating state police, particularly when the essence is to complement the efforts of the police.”
Talking about the operatives’ power to make an arrest, he argued that by virtue of Section 20 of the Administration of Justice Act, every private citizen has the statutory power to arrest a criminal, and thereafter hand the suspect over to the police. In fact, each citizen has a duty to assist the police in the enforcement of the law.
“Don’t forget that the Civilian Joint Task Force is joining the Nigerian military, another security agency to fight Boko Haram in a full-blown war in a section of the country. That is a form of security to assist the security agencies.”
Another legal personnel, Femi Olatumbora said “each of these state governments represents their citizens in their own states. The right that each of these citizens in the states can exercise against invaders to their homes can be combined and exercised corporately.” Therefore, the corporate expression of the right to self-defence epitomised in Amotekun has no conflict with the powers of the police.
IGP gives approval
Meanwhile, the Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi in a meeting with the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, secured the approval of the IGP to the new operation. The source said both met on Thursday, 9th January in the Police headquarters in Abuja.
And the same day (Thursday), the operation was launched in Ibadan having the presence of either the Governors or their representatives from the South West region.