The triumph of Amotekun corps
No time in history has any government responded to the plight of their people than the courageous decision of governors of the South west region of Nigeria to set up the Western Nigeria Security Network code-named Amotekun Corps. The priority of any government should be how to secure the lives and property of the people. This surely explains the massive solidarity and support from the people for that commendable initiative, when everyone, young or old, male or female, politician or professional, progressives, activists, religious leaders, students, traditional rulers, etc, rallied round the governors, for the launch of the neighbourhood security outfit.
Few years down the line, the story of Amotekun has been largely successful. The initial attempt by the Federal Government to frustrate the outfit was resisted and it is commendable that the federal and state governments were able to harmonise the divergences in the overall interest of the people, leading to the stability of Amotekun. It is one area that President Muhammadu Buhari and the governors deserve commendation, but for the way the economy has ruined the little advantage gained thereby.
Under and by virtue of section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution, ‘the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.’ Thus, it is very clear that the main reason the government exists is for the good and safety of the people. Thus, anytime it becomes impossible for the government to guarantee the lives of its people, then that government has lost the purpose of its existence and should be scrapped. Nigeria has never been this challenged in the area of safety of lives and property.
The Boko Haram menace accounts for the main threat to the lives of our fellow countrymen in the North east, banditry threatens the North west, militants and criminals are seeking to overthrow the South east and South south, whilst cultists, touts and other criminals rear their ugly heads in the South west. Without any exception however, kidnappers, who are on rampage all over the country, account for the greatest threat to the lives of the people presently.
Nobody is spared, as even security and law enforcement agents are also victims. Judges who decide the fate of the kidnappers have been held hostage, lawyers who argue their cases are not spared and policemen who arrest, investigate and prosecute them have likewise been kidnapped. A ridiculous case was when a Divisional Police Officer was kidnapped and his friends, colleagues and family members had to raise money to pay the ransom being demanded for his release. An Army Captain was abducted right in the centre of the Nigerian Defence Academy in Kaduna.
The kidnappers don’t even seem to fear God, as priests, pastors and imams have all tasted from their wickedness. It has gotten to such an alarming point that many people have become restricted to their geographical locations in their respective states, as was witnessed in the last Christmas and New Year holidays. Against all odds, Governor Ayodele Fayose signed into law, the anti-grazing law of Ekiti State and proceeded to implement it. Some herdsmen who tested his resolve were rounded up, tried and promptly convicted. That sent the right signal to the marauding herders, who thereafter embraced the law and have been at peace with the people of Ekiti thereafter.
In the absence of any amendment to the Constitution as promised by the National Assembly, it is suggested that states of the federation should establish their own security network or outfit, by whatever name called, for the protection of their people. Security is the business of all of us and it cannot be undertaken by the Federal Government alone. Section 214 of the Constitution has only established the Nigeria Police Force without specifying its powers or granting it any exclusivity in criminal matters.
Furthermore, section 4 of the Police Act, 2020 states that ‘The Police Force shall: (a) prevent and detect crimes, and protect the rights and freedoms of every person in Nigeria as provided in the Constitution, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and any other law; (b) maintain public safety, law and order; (c) protect lives and property of all persons in Nigeria …” amongst others. Clearly from these provisions, there is no exclusivity granted to the Nigeria Police Force in relation to safety of lives and property to deter any State from establishing its own security outfit.
What the Constitution has prohibited in section 214 is that ‘no other police force shall be established for the Federation of Nigeria or any part thereof.’ Under the Exclusive Legislative List contained in the Third Schedule to the Constitution, Defence is listed as Item 17 whilst ‘police and other government security services’ is listed as Item 45. What this means is that any government, be it Federal or State or Local, is free to establish any other entity for security, peace, order or law enforcement, so long as it does not reflect the Name: Nigeria Police Force.
To be continued tomorrow
Adegboruwa is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).