THOUGH protests across the South West zone are flagged by the controversial internal security scheme ‘Amotekun’ established without due process by joint effort of all the states of the region, the crust of the matter is a lot more than the legitimacy or otherwise of the project.
IT IS about Nigerians’ faith in the legitimate organizations that enforce the security of their lives and property. ‘Amotekun’ may be the red herring currently, at another time, it could be herdsmen onslaught on innocent communities;
kidnappers on rampage; brigands and pirates bursting pipelines and sacking towns; charms donning young men parading as operatives of Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) and invading markets; crowds of flag waiving young people blocking streets amid chants of pro-Biafra songs, Boko Haram terror mongers ready to throw IODs or followers of El Zakzaky blocking roads and causing riots among others.
The issues that the current ‘Amotokun’ furore raise are many. The reprieve therein is that they all dwell on one main plank – Nigeria’s internal security system has deteriorated badly. The situation has become so obvious that no one can feign ignorance of the rot.
ON JANUARY 9, In Ibadan, Oyo State, governors of the South West states, Oyo, Ondo, Osun, Ekiti, Ogun and Lagos met along with the elites of the region to brainstorm on security. Cases of clashes between members of their communities and herdsmen as well as kidnapping and robbery came up for discourse, including the action of the Nigerian police and other state security agencies.
THE forum resolved to take their fate by their hands and set up an internal security organ that will operate in the hinterlands and jungles of the region. The result was the formation of ‘Amotekun,’ a scheme derived from the Yoruba name for leopard.
Not up to two days after the new development, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of Nigeria, Abubakar Malami described the initiative as not apt by law. Outpour of emotions has ever since been high in the South West. But the issue goes beyond legitimacy. It bothers on whether a people have no right to defend themselves when they feel there is nobody to help them.
MEDIA reports credited to such south west leaders as former Deputy National Chairman, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Bode George and a Lagos-based lawyer, Chief Femi Falana cite Amotekun as the zone’s response to obvious internal security lapses in the area as alternative to none in this fight against insecurity.
BUOYED by flaming zeal to exercise their right in resorting to any form of technique that may provide them with adequate security, exponents of Ametokun are keen on their mission not withstanding the Minister of Justice’s stance.
They cite instances of internal security breach that rile up the region. Among them is repeated occasions of kidnapping of a former Secretary to Government of the Federation and Afenifere Chieftain, Olu Falae and the killing of the daughter of another Afenifere stalwart, Chief Fasoranti.
THEY inform that not any of these cases was handled appropriately by police or any relevant authority. To them, Mr Malami and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadiq Abubakar who condemned ‘Amotekun’ are affronting the South West by playing the ostrich. Promoters of Amotekun say its operatives will be members of the interior communities and they will guard the forests.
This makes the scheme look like a forest guarding regime and one where operatives will be local people who know the real good folks and the bad ones which could bring policing to the people. If there could be anything capable of bringing harmony, what is wrong in embracing it?
Federal Government’s hard stance on this calls for rethink at this point. However, the question on why we need regional security when federal security agencies are there keeps propping up.
SUPPORTERS of Amotekun keep harping on why such internal security scheme should be allowed to operate else where, such as the Hisbah in Kano State and the Civilian Joint Military Taskforce that is allowed to help the army in quelling insurgency in North East.
Some argue that there are forest guards schemes yielding positive results in curbing kidnap in South South and South East and ask why would it be imagined that Amotekun would not fare well in the west?
WHETHER the phobia stems from nomenclature or just because the arrangement involves more than one state, the truth is that the common man is the ultimate loser as he may end up not having either ‘Amotekun’ or the police and other law enforcement agencies to protect him.
And the common man may even be a bigger loser still because the operative of the scheme would be the same person. Should he join and in the same zeal of work harms any person at the course of work for example, if ‘Amotekun’ is not endorsed by the federal government, he would eventually be charged for firing a gun or killing somebody, and be killed by the law which is a problem.
IN AS much as National Light is not supporting any group in this debate, it is important to note that from whatever standpoint the development is viewed, the benchmark is that security arrangements across country should be marked up to give the people more feelings of safety.
The propagators of Amotekun should endeavour to straighten issues with the FG to avoid putting the operators in danger or make them in any way undermine the roles of Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), Army, Police and other security agencies in the country.
THE issue brings up the need for localities, states and the country to place high premium on security of citizens and property- an endeavour in which the government of Dr Willie Obiano in Anambra State excels. Anambra Government’s prompt intervention and holistic approach to security delivery is recommended here for national appraisal and adaption.