Former civilian governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa, has launched a virulent attack on the six governors of the Southwest for establishing the Western Nigeria Security Network, known as Operation Amotekun.
The former governor cautioned the Federal Government and Nigerians not to allow the establishment of Amotekun to stand, but to be openly distrustful of the project, saying it was a ploy to secure Yoruba land and a prelude to the declaration of Oduduwa Republic.
In an exclusive interview with Sunday Sun at the weekend, Musa described the outfit as illegal, explaining that some of the security components of the outfit like the Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, have records of recklessness in terms of securing the lives and property of non-Yoruba.
He said that comments that the Hisbah and the Civilian JTF operating in the northern part of the country were unfounded as both groups are legal having gone through the scrutiny of the police, army and legal processes. He described Afenifere, one of the supporters of the Amotekun project, as a group made up of people with secessionist agenda. Excerpts:
The Western Nigeria Security Network recently launched by the six governors of the Southwest states also known asAmotekun has suddenly become a challenging hypothesis to some Nigerians. What is your thinking about this security network?
First of all, taking into account what happened in the history of Nigeria, this Amotekun will lead to a declaration of Oduduwa Republic. Look at the composition of those who constitute the organization in addition to the six state governors. There is also the OPC, Afenifere, and others. So, the fear is quite obvious. And this is in spite of the fact that this government is incompetent. Definitely, this government is incompetent. And it is because of the incompetence of this government that this problem has arisen. But let us also not forget that this Federal Government is an alliance between the North and the Southwest. So, why should this happen? Any correction in the set up of the country is possible if this alliance, which controls government in the country can do its work.
In other words, you agree with the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation that Amotekun is illegal.
Oh yes! It is illegal because it contravenes the provisions of the law in the constitution. And unfortunately for them in spite of the intellectual aura of the elite class in the Southwest they couldn’t be articulate because they could have been articulate like the Kano State did in the case of Hisbah. They went through the State House of Assembly. Now, if this Amotekun had been taken through the six state Houses of Assembly before it was formed you could say they have a case in the sense that the state Houses of Assembly are in charge of law making. Secondly, the governor of each state is the chief security officer of his state. So, if you combine this two and enact a law allowing for the formation of Amotekun, they would have gotten it right. But in spite of their articulation they failed to do so, which means it must be deliberate that what they are concerned exactly is an Oduduwa State.
In a situation where they have a serious security challenge in their states what would you have advised them to do?
Well, in the first place the security situation in the Southwest is not more than it is in other parts of the country, particularly in the Northwest. Even yesterday (last Wednesday) there was the report of the Emir of Potiskum almost losing his life between Kaduna and Zaria as a result of attacks by bandits. Many lives were lost and people were affected. Now, this is the situation in the whole country not only in the Southwest. Now, what they ought to have done in the interest of humanity and national unity is to use their power in government since this is an alliance between their region and the North, to bring about laws, which will make the police more relevant and more powerful. At the moment, the police are not. It is under staffed and they suffer the same thing as other institutions in the country. But then with their power as partners in government they can make the Federal Government to stand and make the police to do their work so much so that we will not have a situation where everybody will be helping himself. For instance, they can use the Amotekun to strengthen the police or better still use their power to see that the Federal Government and Buhari do the right thing. And this annoys everybody. It annoys all of us. The Federal Government is not doing the right thing and it is because they are not doing the right thing that there is this factionalisation. Let them use their political power to make sure the Federal Government does the right thing.
What would you say to those who are pointing fingers at the Civilian JTF in Borno and Yobe states, which is also not a product of legislation from their state Houses of Assembly?
If you look at their modus operandi they are actually supported by the police and even the army and the state government there.
Why won’t the police and the army support Amotekun in the Southwest since their governors are in support?
Let them work for it. Let them do the same thing that Kano State did in the case of Hisbah. Let them do it. Better still, let them use their political power and I repeat this government is an alliance between them and the North.
Even if we leave the Hisbah case which is a product of legislation from the Kano State House of Assembly as you would want the Southwest governors to do what of the Civilian JTF members operating without legislation with support from the police and army and are armed? Is the Civilian JTF legal?
They are actually working as an arm of the police, the army and the state governments.
But does that make it a legally constituted body as you would want Amotekun to be?
Well, we have to take it as such. It could be, but at least the three are working together and it will not lead to anarchy like Amotekunwill lead to anarchy.
Is something not wrong somewhere if Amotekun will lead to anarchy and the operations of Hisbah and the Civilian JTF will not?
No, because there is no basis for Amotekun at all and we have the history. We know what eventually led to the 1966 coup when the Southwestern separatists and the northern dominance had a clash of interests. It is the problems between them that caused the 1966 coup that eventually led to the civil war.
Is Hisbah in Kano State legal?
It is legal in the sense that, according to reports, the state House of Assembly passed a law to that effect. Yes. The issue is, does it contravene the provisions of the constitution? That is it. We have to find out. But in the case of Amotekun, clearly, it is illegal and it reminds us of our ugly past, the wild, wild, West.
Concretely, your reference to the wild, wild, West is historical and therefore…
(Cuts in) Yes, it is historical…
(Cuts in) Therefore, the implication of all you have said is that the Federal Government should be wary of Amotekun because it would lead to the creation of Oduduwa Republic. Would that be so?
Not only the Federal Government. All Nigerians should be careful because we all know the history of Nigeria. For example, there is evidence or rather strong indication that before the coup in Nigeria after Aburi, the stand of the West was that if the East goes, the West will follow. Of course, it happened the East went and declared Biafra, but the West didn’t follow. But events showed that historically, the reigning elite in both the Southeast and the Southwest had an agreement that because they couldn’t tolerate the dominance of the North and because of the situation now and the self help attitude of the elite class in the Southwest the impression is that their old idea, the original idea with the Southeast was that they will leave Nigeria, and I do not know for what, that idea is still there.
What are the indications? What are the attitudes of both the Southwest and Southeast elite that have drawn your attention to what you have just said?
It is that with this Amotekun now, the impression is that they want to secede because all they need to do is that as a result of the announcement of Amotekun since there is no agreement with the rest of Nigerians if the Federal Government doesn’t do the right thing and the right thing, of course is that the government should be competent to implement policies that will unite Nigeria. It appears that now is not possible. So, with this definitely there is the fear that after Amotekun there will be a declaration of Oduduwa State. Pure and simple.
How would a mere security network that would concern itself with intelligence gathering lead to the declaration of Oduduwa Republic? The governors have said they will not arm members of the outfit.
They may say so, but it is only a few people that are saying they would not be armed. A few of them said so, but not all. But if they are really not after Oduduwa Republic why not do what Kano State did in the case of Hisbah? The Lagos State government did the same thing by going to the State House of Assembly to pass a law. Why can’t they do that? Instead they are resorting to self-help and involving people whose positions are very well known as far as the unity of Nigeria is concerned. I mean what did OPC do when it was established? They were arresting anybody in the Southwest who was not Yoruba. This was what OPC was doing and OPC now is very well entrenched and strong in Amotekun. Everybody also knows that Afenifere like the Northern Forum has a secessionist tendency. And Afenifere is in Amotekun.
Afenifere is not a constituent part of Amotekun. It merely supported the idea.
As far as we are concerned Afenifere and Northern Elders Forum are secessionists.
You have always made reference to “we” when you take certain positions. Who are the “we” in this case?
That is we progressives. And these progressives come from the North, the East, the West and South-south. We are the products of the Aminu Kano, Azikiwe and Awolowo.
Why are you now having fears when you have people of like minds across Nigeria?
This is because the true progressives have been decimated. You now have only few progressives. For instance, you can rely on Falana to stand on the position of a united Nigeria.
But Falana is also supporting Amotekun?
Yes, obviously he is, but we should make him understand. We can talk to him and make him understand.
What will be your reply to those who are saying that governors have no business consulting the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice before coming up with the idea of how best to secure their states or regions?
That is wrong. We wouldn’t have a country if governors will not be concerned with the Attorney General of the Federation, when they will not consult with the Attorney General. No. They are taking a legal step and if it is legal they should consult the Attorney General of the Federation.
Did those that established Hisbah and the Civilian JTF consult the Attorney General of the Federation since you said both bodies are legal?
That is the disappointment I have with these western elite. They seem to be educated, but not informed. Even if they are informed they are not committed. Look Civilian JTF is a creation of unity of purpose between the police, the army and the state governments. Yes. All these other ones want is to start trouble and have what they want. And remember wetie has been identified with the Southwest. These are people who get involved with self-help before we came to wild, wild, west.
The people are saying on Amotekun they stand. What would you advise them to do if they must have their way?
Then, the Biafra people said on Biafra we stand. This people are also now saying on Amotekun we stand, which means on Oduduwa Republic we stand. That is how we are going to look at it. What I will advise them to do if they want to do like Kano State did with Hisbah, let them work with the police, the army, the Federal Ministry of Justice and work out something. Even better still, let them work with their state Houses of Assembly and come out with something.