The triumph of Amotekun corps (2)
Continued from yesterday
To buttress the above assertion, the National Assembly of Nigeria, on June 28, 2003, established the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, consisting of volunteers and regular members. The NSCDC Act in its section 3 (1) (a), vests the Corps with power to ‘assist in the maintenance of peace and order and also in the protection and rescuing of civil population in the period of emergency.’ In section 3 (1) (f), the Corps has ‘power to arrest, investigate and hand over to the Nigeria Police, for further investigation and prosecution, any person who is involved in any criminal activity.’
In May, 2007, the National Assembly amended the NSCDC Act, empowering the Corps to bear arms. It is my humble opinion that the National Assembly has by the NSCDC Act confirmed that policing, detection and prevention of crime, is not exclusive to the Nigeria Police Force. In 2016, Lagos State established the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps, for the purpose of gathering information about crimes, crime in progress, suspicious activities and crime suspects among other things, making available such relevant information on crimes, crime in progress, suspicious activities and crime suspects to the police or other security agencies that require it, putting structure in place to ensure that hoodlums and cult groups do not have the opportunity to operate, undertaking routine motorized patrols day and night, reducing the crime rate and ensuring that offenders are identified and made to account for their misdeeds, following up on arrest of offenders to the court and ensuring justice, timely reporting of suspicious activities and crimes in progress to the police or other security agencies and improving relationship between the police and the community as it concerns law enforcement and contributing to maintaining community peace. This has proved to be hugely successful in crime prevention and detection.
In 2018, the National Assembly again established the Peace Corps of Nigeria for the similar purpose of security and intelligence gathering but the Bill was not assented to by the President. However, the point has been made by that singular act of passing the Bill, that security is not exclusive to the Nigeria Police Force. Indeed, several States in Nigeria, have granted amnesty to cultists, bandits and other criminals, duly endorsed by the federal government, in order to achieve peace in those States. Some other States in the Federation have local law enforcement outfits, such as Hisbah, for the enforcement of their own local laws, to the knowledge and endorsement of the federal government. Invariably, state police has come to stay, even though it has not been officially accepted as such by the federal government and its agencies.
From the news monitored in the South-West region, the establishment of the Amotekun Corps has proved to be a huge success, even though there are lapses here and there, but there is no doubt that the yawning gap in the federal security architecture has been filled.
I had cause to travel round the States of the South-West towards the end of last year and I personally witnessed the effectiveness of the Amotekun Corps. Crime prevention is effective when there are sufficient mechanisms put in place to discourage or scare the criminals. Once there is the slightest risk of apprehension, resistance or exposure, the criminal would most likely think twice before executing any operation in the location where these mechanisms exist. In Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti States, the fear of Amotekun is the beginning of wisdom. They mount road blocks in strategic locations in order to assure the people of their safety, they offer security services to the people by way of escorts, vigilante services, surveillance and they display courage to stand up in situations that threaten the peace and security of the people.
In 2015, the All Progressives Congress released its Manifesto to all Nigerians, promising to ‘enable States and Local Governments to employ State and Community Police to address the peculiar needs of each community.’ The value of this pledge will be most relevant when the National Assembly eventually amends the Constitution to reflect the will of the people for state police. In most locations in the South-West today, there is a general sense of inclusiveness being expressed by the people with the presence of Amotekun Corps as they now have an alternative to the regular police and they partner and work with the local Amotekun Corps because most of their officials are indigenes of the local community, they are well known and people can relate with them easily. Cases of constant attack and reckless invasions have reduced substantially and this is commendable. The gains of this laudable initiative should be consolidated with a review of the enabling laws in order to bring them up to date with modern reality, avoid excesses and hold the officers of the outfit accountable.
Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN)