Saturday, 18 January 2020 06:08

[OPINION] The Rash War against Amotekun - Yemi Adebowale

The Western Nigeria Security Network code-named Amotekun, established by the six states in the South-west, is all about self-defence and self-protection in the face of unending attacks by criminals. This is the truth that must be upheld. For me, a people under the servitude of armed robbers, kidnappers, ritual killers, killer herders and bandits have a right to self-defence. Just like in other parts of the country, the Nigerian state has obviously failed them; a state that stands by, while its people are exterminated daily; a state unperturbed by the continuous security embarrassment suffered by its people. Why should a man standby and watch himself and family perpetually humiliated by criminals, who rape and abduct? So, because those who should do the protection have failed, the man should continue to endure the humiliation?

Amotekun is no longer the affairs of the governors; it is the property of the Yoruba people, pushed to the wall by a failed federal government that can no longer secure them. In July last year, right in the backyard of the Yorubas, Mrs. Funke Olakunrin, daughter of Pa Reuben Fashoranti, a prominent leader of the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, was slaughtered. It’s a shame that several months after, nobody has been prosecuted as the killer or mastermind of the murder.  Daily, scores of people are slaughtered by bandits, kidnappers and killer herders across the South-west, and indeed, across our entire country. Amotekun promoters did not set up a police force. They did not say they were out to rival the federal police. The regional security outfit aims to provide Yorubas, and all other Nigerians in the South-west with traditional strategy to tackle crime and criminality in the region. So, why should this be a problem to a failed central government and its tattered security agents?

The statement on Tuesday by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, declaring Amotekun illegal, and that it “runs contrary to the provisions of the Nigerian law” is silly. Malami kept rehearsing the obvious. There is no point telling us that “the Federal Republic of Nigeria is a sovereign entity and is governed by laws meant to sustain its corporate existence as a constitutional democracy. It is a federation of states with the Federal Government superintending over matters of national interest.”

We all know that the division of executive and legislative authority between the federal and state governments has been clearly defined by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). Malami continued with his baloney thus: “It is against the same background that matters relating to the peace, order and good government of the Federation and in particular, the defence of the country, are enshrined in the Exclusive Legislative list. The Second Schedule in Item 17 deals with defence and this is a matter that is within the exclusive operational competence of the Federal Government of Nigeria. No other authority at the state level, whether the executive or legislature, has the legal authority over defence.

“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) has established the Army, Navy and Air Force, including the Police and other numerous paramilitary organisations for the purpose of the defence of Nigeria. As a consequence of this, no state government, whether singly or in a group, has the legal right and competence to establish any form of organisation or agency for the defence of Nigeria or any of its constituent parts. This is sanctioned by the provision of Item 45 of the Second Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) authorising the Police and other Federal government security services established by law to maintain law and order. The law will take its natural course in relation to excesses associated with organisation, administration and participation in ‘Amotekun’ or continuous association with it as an association.”

That is Malami with his usual crap. All crap, no wisdom. He is talking about laws but unaware that laws are made for man and not vice versa. He is talking about the law and the people are talking about how to end killings in the country. Which one should take primacy? The federal government should be happy that state governors are helping with security, an area it has failed woefully. Pending the amendment of Item 45 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution finagled on this country by the military, we have to improvise to secure Nigeria. This is the reality the Buhari government must face. Malami and his cohorts must stop reading negative meanings to a lofty project aimed at securing Nigerians. Amotekun is not a trick by the South-west governors to create state police or to undermine the integrity and sovereignty of Nigeria. In fact, they never said that they were creating a police force. So, I don’t know where Malami got this twaddle of his from.

The promoters of Amotekun made it very clear that members of the Odua Peoples Congress (OPC), local vigilantes and hunters will form Amotekun operation and “work with security operatives, including the police, military and paramilitary,” to secure the South-west.

Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State was clear on the mission of Amotekun: “It is not a regional police through the backdoor. The South-west governors are not out to undermine the integrity and sovereignty of Nigeria and Amotekun is neither an alternative to any of the conventional security agencies in the country nor a state police.

It will complement and work in collaboration with security agencies to provide adequate security of lives and property in the region. The Western Nigeria Security Network, Operation Amotekun, is nothing but a community policing response to a problem that our people would like to put an end to.

“But pending the time that the community policing strategy being put together by the Nigeria Police comes to fruition, it is clearly important that we give our people a confidence boosting strategy. So if you ask me, Amotekun is nothing but a confidence-building strategy for our people in the western zone. When those elements that are going to work in the joint task force with the mainstream security agencies undertake this assignment, they are going to do it with the knowledge of the terrain, language and culture of the community they are going to work.

“Amotekun is not duplication, neither is it a replacement for the Nigeria Police Force. Amotekun is a complement that gives our people the confidence that they are being looked after by the people they elected into office. We do not want this to create fear in the mind of any one. We are not creating a regional police force. We are not oblivious of the steps we need to follow in forming a state police. We are law-abiding citizens of Nigeria. We know that will require a constitutional amendment and we are not there yet.”

So, why this needless war against Amotekun by Malami and his cohorts? Is it that they are averse to the progress of this country? Is the federal government happy with the unending killings, abductions and banditry in the country? Amotekun will evidently reduce the burden on our inept and overstretched federal security agencies. Our AGF did not find anything wrong with Hisbah agents in Kano and Katsina enforcing Sharia law. He did not find anything wrong with Civilian JTF (doing a great job) in the North-east. So, what is his problem with Amotekun? Or, is he happy with the unending murders across the nation? Malami’s threat that the full course of the law would be applied to anybody promoting the Amotekun security initiative is derisory. He is unaware that he is the Attorney-General of the country, not of a section of the country.

My dear Malami, wake up and smell the coffee. Federal security agents lack the capacity to secure this country. They have shown embarrassing and unending ineptitude. The practical thing to do is to have arrangements such as Amotekun and Civilian JTF, helping our languid police. Even Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State confirmed that Northern governors are working towards establishing a regional security outfit similar to Amotekun. This is the way forward for Nigeria.n 

 

Ovie Omo-Agege’s Burden 

Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege will have to do more than just issuing a press statement denying his alleged conviction for forgery and perjury in Los Angeles, United States in 1996. He cannot remain in the Senate if, indeed, he is an ex-convict. This would be in contravention of the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution. His opponents have provided court papers to back their call for the immediate resignation of Omo-Agege over the said conviction. I have spent hours perusing the documents. The allegations against the deputy President of the Senate are weighty.

An alliance, under the aegis of Coalition of Civil Society and Youth Groups, claimed that he concealed the said conviction by the State Bar Court of California from INEC and the Senate. The coalition claimed that sometime in April 22, 1996, “Omo-Agege, believed to be one and the same Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, was ordered to be suspended from the practice of law following his conviction for violating California Penal Code Section 470, a criminal offence involving immorality, under the authority of subdivision (a) of rule 951, California Rules of Court. Our scrupulous findings reveal that the said Augustine O. Omo-Agege was admitted into the State Bar of California on December 14, 1992.

“The records reveal that on or about March 7, 1992, the said Augustine O. Omo-Agege was alleged to have committed the crime of forgery in violation of Penal Code Section 470. Furthermore, on or about March 7, 1993 the said Augustine O. Omo-Agege was alleged to have committed the crime of perjury-application for driver’s licence in the County of Los Angeles in violation of Penal Code Section 118. Following a lengthy prosecution of the said allegations against Augustine O. Omo-Agege, he was convicted of violating California Penal code section 470 and was also subsequently suspended from the practice of law pending final disposition of the proceeding.”

Omo-Agege has admitted that he was indeed tried in the United States for forgery and perjury but was cleared of any wrongdoing. He says he is not an ex-convict. But I am shocked that for almost two years now, he has not been able to back these claims up with necessary documents. This is the challenge I am throwing at the DSP this morning. My dear Omo-Agege, let’s have the court judgement clearing you of forgery and perjury in the US. It’s not enough to say that you were cleared. These allegations look tougher than snatching the Senate’s maze.

 

 Lessons from Niger Republic 

 

President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger Republic fired two top military chiefs, Just four days after a jihadist assault on an army base left 89 dead in the biggest single loss in the country’s history. The Army Chief, Sidikou Issa and Armed Forces Chief of Staff, General Ahmed Mohamed, were asked to go home in response to the massacre. President Issoufou also declared three days of national mourning after the attack on Chinegodar camp in western Niger last Thursday. This is the meaning of leadership. President Mahamadou Issoufou has shown leadership. Back home, scores of Nigerians are killed almost on a daily basis by Boko Haram and ISWAP, yet, our military commanders are still keeping their first team shirts. What a country!

 

 

Yemi Adebowale, Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Tel: 07013940521 (text only)

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