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Police have no right to stop rally on Amotekun, Adebanjo, Nyiam, others fume


Rally for Amotekun at Gani Fawhehinmi Park runs into hitches as police intervene… in Lagos<br />PHOTO: AYODELE ADENIRAN<br />

A chieftain of Yoruba socio-cultural group Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, has strongly condemned the action of the Nigerian Police and the Federal Government for having the audacity to disrupt the peaceful protest organised in support of Southwest’s new security initiative codenamed Operation Amotekun.

Adebanjo, who promptly react to the dispersion of Amotekun protesters billed to hold at Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Square, Ojota, Lagos, warned that President Muhammadu Buhari and his advisers were towing with the unity and corporate existence of Nigeria if they continued to oppose Amotekun, which the Southwest people have adopted as an alternative security measure in the wave of killings, kidnappings, rape and wanton destruction of farmlands by armed herdsmen in the last five years.

Adebanjo described the police stoppage of protests in support of Amotekun as part of Buhari’s penchant for the disrespect to the rule of law, freedom of association and expression as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.

According to him, “If a government fails to secure us, what does the same expect us to do? To fold our arms and allow strange armed herders to be killing us? Why must Buhari’s government turn a blind eye to the wave of insecurity in Yorubaland as if it was a ploy to subdue and conquer us? If we then rise to defend ourselves what audacity has the government to say no, otherwise it pleases the administration we must all die when it even refused to investigate the ignominious killing of Mrs. Toyin Olakunrin, the daughter of Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti?”

He said if the government continues to reject state police it must then allow Amotekun to stay, adding, “I strongly condemn the action of the police for stopping the solidarity rally for Amotekun.”

Also, a presidential aspirant on the platform of Labour Party (LP) in the 2019 election, Mr. Okey Samuel Mbonu, has asked the Federal Government to support Amotekun project. He said the concept of “community policing” as enunciated by the Southwest governors, via the Amotekun project was the way to go.

Mbonu, who spoke from his base in Washington DC, United States, said community policing is an inevitable aspect of true federalism, which Nigeria purports to practice. While expressing concern over the police’s reaction to the rally on Amotekun, Mbonu said that community policing in the U.S. arose from the Second Amendment of America’s Constitution, which gave all citizens the right to bear arms for the security and defence of their local communities against unbridled attacks and potential terror.

Mbonu stated that since the numeric strength of The Nigerian Police Force (NPF) is only 350,000 for an estimated population of 200 million, it is not rocket science that there is an array of criminal elements having a field day all over Nigeria, with rampant kidnapping, robbery, and banditry ravaging both north and south. Mbonu said it is also an open secret that more than half of the police are busy guarding politicians, their wives, and their children, thus making the rest of the population vulnerable with one police personnel per 3,000 to 5,000 persons.

While still justifying the need for security outfits like Amotekun, Mbonu said the government should have been grateful to the initiators of the programme and as well as encourage other geo-political zones to form their own community policing units to augment the police, just like Kano’s Hisbah police, and the Civilian JTF.

Mbonu also asked Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Malami, to understudy the U.S. federalism that Nigeria adopted, where policing is strictly a state and local government affair, with every one of the 4,000 counties (local government areas) in the U.S. having its own police, along with City Police Departments for the various cities across the U.S.

Further, Mbonu said the U.S. Federal Government technically does not have a “‘domestic’ police force because policing is a state affair, as the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), which is not a ‘uniformed’ service, is only there to aid in investigation of major interstate crimes at the request of state officials or due to some other serious issues. In any case, the FBI would work closely with state police when invited to each of the 50 U.S. states.”

He stated that Amotekun would protect all citizens in their particular domain, whether they are Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, Ijaw or Efik, and urged the FG to retrace its steps and dialogue with the states to work towards a common purpose of securing Nigeria domestically.

“Once the nation is secure domestically, the national military will then truly focus on the self-professed enemies of the country,” he stated.

Also, Col. Tony Nyiam (rtd), has said Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami would eventually destroy Buhari’s government over his strange stance on the establishment of Amotekun. Following the police’s stoppage of the rally organised in support of the new security outfit in Lagos yesterday, the most senior officer in the 1990 Major Gideon Orkah military coup, has warned that Malami might eventually destroy what is left of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration by his disposition to the ongoing development.

Irked by the fact that armed police officers disrupted the peaceful rally organised in support of Amotekun by credible Yoruba leaders, especially in Lagos, Nyiam said it was unfortunate that ‘one-eyed man’ is being allowed to continue to mislead his blind associates, including his seniors in the cabinet over Amotekun.

According to Nyiam, “The attorney-general is doing more damage than good to President Muhammadu Buhari’s government. Malami is making it look as if Buhari is only out to serve only his Fulani ethnic clan at the expense of other ethnic nationalities. Even the Hausa are being killed in thousands in Zamfara, Sokoto, and even in Katsina, the president’s home state. This is evident in the minister’s double standard. He didn’t order the police to stop his ethnic people, who openly attacked and nearly killed a peaceful protest organised in support of the convener of #RevolutionayNow.

“If the police are indeed the Nigerian police, and not Buhari’s ethnic clan’s willing agents, they will not obey an order that is not in accordance with the law. It’s constitutionally unlawful for the minister to order the police to stop citizens’ exercise of their rights to protest peacefully

“Amotekun is the Southwest residents’ means of protection, which include non-Yoruba Lagosians like my humble self, who are crying out loud for the protection of the right to life as enshrined in section 33 of the 1999 Nigerian constitution and also section 34(1)b. Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of the person, and accordingly (specifically), no person shall be held in slavery or servitude. The majority of the Omo Oduwa does not want to suffer what their kinsfolk in Kwara and Hausa have been subjected to for hundreds of years.”

But Yoruba Ronu described the police action as an affront to the intelligence and integrity of leaders of Yoruba, who organised the rally to test the acceptability of Amotekun among their people. President of Yoruba Ronu, Mr. Akin Malaolu, said there is no basis for the Federal Government to disrupt the rally under a democratic setting as long as it does not disturb peace and movement.

Meanwhile, some Southwest members of the ruling party, who did not want their names in print, have called for caution over Amotekun, saying as laudable as the programme looks, it could not be approached with confrontation or aggression but with careful dialogue. They said it was out of place to think that a Federal Government that is biased towards a section of Nigeria could stop it, adding, “it is, however, necessary for us as Yoruba not to give room for saboteurs within and without to truncate the idea.”

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