Amotekun: South West States Working To Harmonised Law Backing Vigilante Group

Amotekun: South West States Working To Harmonised Law Backing Vigilante Group

By Wires Editor | The Trent on January 29, 2020
Amotekun, Western Nigeria Security Network, WNSN, Fayemi
Amotekun: Governors of the South West at the launch of the Western Nigeria Security Network, WNSN in Ibadan, Oyo State on Thursday, January 8, 2019

Lagos, Ogun and Ekiti states are leading the drafting of model bills on the South-West security outfit, Operation Amotekun.

Wale Fapohunda, the Ekiti state attorney general and commissioner for justice, who gave this indication in an interview with Punch on Sunday, January 26, 2020, also said operatives of Amotekun, would have the power to arrest suspected criminals.

Fapohunda said this just as indications emerged on Sunday that the South-West attorneys general would on February 6 meet to harmonise  positions of different states on the proposed Operation Amotekun bills.

The Federal Government and the South-West governors had,  at a meeting in Abuja on Thursday, resolved their differences on Operation Amotekun, which was launched in Ibadan on January 9 to address killings and kidnapping in the zone.

The meeting, which was presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, was attended by the South-West governors and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, who declared Operation Amotekun illegal on January 14, 2020.

At the meeting, both sides agreed that each of the South-West states should make a law to back Operation Amotekun.

As a follow-up to the agreement reached in Abuja, the attorneys general of the South-West states met in Ibadan on Thursday to begin the process of making Amotekun laws in their states.

Shedding light on the proposed Amotekun bill, Fapohunda, in the interview with Punch, stated, “We ultimately want to create a security outfit that is accountable and responsible to the people of each of the states involved so that they can have faith in the outfit. We have sights on a law that has focus on the people’s lives.

“The legal framework being drafted by the attorneys general will contain the mandate of Amotekun. The mandate is very crucial and that will be clearly stated; then the administrative structure, particularly as it relates to the issue of accountability and their power particularly as it relates to that of arrest.

Amotekun, Chinua Achebe
Amotekun: Members of the South West Nigeria’s vigilante group standing in front of patrol vehicles for the force.

“Power of arrest is not new. All our non-conventional forces have the power of arrest. What is important is that when they arrest, what happens to those that they arrest? The way Amotekun will work is that if they see a crime that is being committed, they will have to inform the national security forces like the police, where that is not possible, they can arrest and hand over such a person to the security agencies.”

Fapohunda, who said Amotekun across the different state commands would be working in collaboration, said the law would also spell out the relations among Amotekun  in the six South-West states.

He stated, “There is going to be clear provisions on how they are all going to cooperate. The issue of funding is also crucial; where we are going to be getting money from and how the state governments should be funding them. Those are some of the issues that will be contained in the proposed bill.

“The relationship with the conventional security agencies is an important component. The approach that we are taking is that of community policing. The whole concept is going to fit within the framework of community policing. That is one of the areas that the governors agreed with the IG.”

Fapohunda said there would still be consultation among the South-West attorneys general with a view to producing virtually similar laws in the states.

He said, “We are working on it, but don’t forget that we are going to consult. Our own version will be ready, we are now going to look at other versions and see whether we can be inspired by what other versions have.

“Ultimately, it is about having a law that, when you see the Ekiti State Amotekun law, you look at the Oyo State Amotekun law, you see that there will be similarities. We are not warming up to enact a law on our own. We just want to make sure that our is ready and when others are ready, we are all working within a limited time frame, then the South-West AGs attorney-general will meet again and review where we are.

S’West states may adopt Lagos, Ogun Amotekun bill

“In fact, what we have actually as a proposal for the meeting is that Lagos, Ogun and Ekiti are the ones that are leading the drafting of the Amotekun model laws. What we have been doing since Thursday is just to get our own ready, putting together our thoughts on what we want to see in the law given the Ekiti State experience.”

Fapohunda said that the model bill would be the template that the six member states would fashion their laws after, taking into consideration the peculiarities of individual states.

He said, “What we want to do is to look at the best of all the bills and pick a template that we can all adopt. We will adopt one that is common to all of us. Individual states have their own issues, so we will have a model law that can serve as pilot, that will meet the minimum standard of effectiveness in response to citizens’ concern and of course respect for citizens’ right.

“Once we have that minimum standard, the law will be unique, but will be responsive to the peculiarities of each state. The agenda is that the law must respond to the concerns of crime, safety and security and at the same time meeting respect for citizens’ rights.

“When we agree on the template, the six states will have harmonised law, but with variations in respect to circumstances of the members,” the attorney general said.

Operation Amotekun will be based on community policing – Akeredolu

On his part, the chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, said Operation Amotekun would be based on the community policing arrangement

The governor, who spoke through his special adviser on Security Matter, Jimoh Dojumo, said, “As it is now, we are good to go. Any moment from now, the operation will start , we are commencing our recruitment any moment from now  in line with the government position.

“We have involved the state House of Assembly. The attorney general is also involved. We have concluded on that everything will be in line with the community policing arrangement.”

S’West attorneys general meet on Feb 6

Seye Oyeleye, the director general, Development Agenda for Western Nigeria, said the South-West attorneys general would meet on February 6, 2020, on the Amotekun bills.

Oyeleye, in an interview with The PUNCH, said commission would not want to preempt the outcome of the documents being put together by the attorneys general.

Oyeleye said, “It will not be good for us to preempt the efforts of the attorneys-general. We met with them on Thursday and by February 6, they will be coming up with a proper position, so don’t let me preempt them.

“We are sure by that date, we would have a proper position. Things are moving fine on Amotekun. I want to assure you that things have been moving smoothly on Amotekun since inception, some people are just making noise about what they do not know.”

Amotekun debate shows there’s need to renegotiate Nigeria – Bakare

In a related development, the serving overseer, Citadel Global Community Church, formerly known as Latter Rain Assembly, Tunde Bakare, has said the debate on Operation Amotekun, is a reminder that Nigeria has yet to address its foundation issues.

In an address titled, “No amount of ringworm medicine can cure leprosy,” which he delivered in his church on Sunday, Bakare said the Operation Amotekun debate showed that the nation could  not sweep the foundation issues under the carpet unaddressed or run away from them.

Rather, the cleric said the way forward for the nation was “to travel downwards to revisit the constitutional foundations.”

He said, “When one considers the argument for and against Amotekun, one will find a recurring reference to the issues which we, as a nation, have failed to deal with in past decades.

“The proponents of Amotekun, particularly in the South, justify the move by referencing the Sharia police or Hisbah as a northern version of regional policing. The opponents, on the other hand, particularly from the North, express fears of possible regional political motivations. These are clear indications that the issues we swept under the carpet in past decades are still staring us in the face. We cannot continue to hide under the umbrella of one finger. It is time to address the underlying issues of nationhood and reset Nigeria on the path to predictable progress. No amount of ringworm medicine can cure leprosy.”

Bakare said while it was good that the South-West governors and the Federal Government had ironed out their differences on  it, the South-West states would do well to give legal backing to Operation Amotekun, by enacting the appropriate laws.

He said such laws should address “recruitment, screening, training and deployment procedures, as well as seamless tactical operations between the outfit on the one hand, and the conventional federal police commissions in the South-West states on the other hand.”

He, however, said the nation must capitalise on the Operation Amotekun debate to address its nagging foundation issue.

Bakare said, “The agreement between the   Federal Government and the South-West governors notwithstanding, we must not let this moment pass by without once again telling ourselves some home truths regarding the underlying issues of constitutional federalism that have continued to confront us.  We must not lose sight of the main issue in the Operation Amotekun debate, which is that the current mono-level security architecture has proved inadequate to combat the security challenges that confront not just the South-West but every zone in our nation, security challenges such as kidnapping, herdsmen attacks, cattle rustling, terrorism and the porosity of our borders.

“We must not forget that, while the debate over the legality or otherwise of regional security efforts like Amotekun was raging during the past week, Nigeria was, once again, plunged into mourning with the murder of a chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Lawan Andimi, by regional terrorists. We must not forget the fact that tens of thousands have lost their lives to criminal elements who have taken advantage of the national security gaps in the respective zones of our federation. This is why I believe that, although the efforts of the South-West governors towards taking responsibility for the security of the zone are commendable, our nation needs a more strategically effective approach to national, regional and local security.”

Meanwhile, it was learnt on Sunday that the IG had redeployed the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of zone 11, Adeleye Oyebade.

Oyebade, who was in charge of Oyo, Osun and Ondo states, was transferred to the Nigeria Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Plateau State. He was replaced with AIG Bashir Makama, who it was gathered, had resumed in Osogbo.

Sources said Oyebade was removed for failing to stop the protests in support of Operation Amotekun which held in some South-West states last Tuesday.

The rally, which was called by a group, the World Yoruba Congress, was foiled in Lagos by scores of policemen who barricaded the Gani Fawehinmi Park, Ojota, venue of the protest, preventing protesters from converging on the ground.

The protests, however, held in other South-West States as they recorded a huge turn-out in Ibadan, Osogbo, Akure and Ado Ekiti.

A source who spoke to one of our correspondents in confidence said, “AIG Oyebade has been removed by the IG for allowing the protests in support of Amotekun to hold in Ibadan, Osogbo and Akure despite knowing that the government was against Operation Amotekun.

“The police authorities were not happy that the AIG did not order the three commissioners of Police under him to stop the rally as it was done in Lagos where policemen blocked the proposed venue of the protest. The AIG has been sent to NIPSS.”

But the Force spokesman, Frank Mba, while confirming Oyebade’s deployment said he was sent to the NIPSS to fill a vacancy.

“Oyebade’s redeployment to the NIPSS should not be attributed to any other ulterior motive or primordial sentiments. It should be noted that posting to the NIPSS as a directing staff member is a privileged posting and it is reserved only for officers who are very cerebral and with proven record of core competency in general policy and administrative matters,” he said.

Community policing: We need time to put our act together – Rivers command

The Rivers State Police Command Sunday confirmed that they received the IG’s directive on the recruitment of constables for community policing on Friday.

It said it needed some time to put its act together as far as the formation of screening committees was concerned.

Nnamdi Omoni, the state Police public relations officer, added that the Command received the directive from the Federal Government on Friday.

Omoni stated that the police in the state would comply with the directive of the police high command on the recruitment of constables for community policing.

“That directive came on Friday; it (directive) came from the police high command. We are going to comply as directed. It came at the weekend, Friday night. We need some time for us to put our acts together,” Omoni said.

But his counterpart for Benue State, Catherine Anene, said the command said that it had not received signal from the headquarters.

According to her, the command is aware of the Federal Government directive on the recruitment of constables into community policing.

“But as I am talking to you now, we have not received signal from the headquarters until then there is nothing we can do for now”, Anene stated.

Mohammed Adamu, the inspector-general of Police, had in wireless message obtained by PUNCH, directed commissioners of police to liaise with traditional rulers in their domains to screen volunteers for constables who would participate in the Federal Government’s community policing.


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