Amotekun Personnel To Carry Licensed Firearms — South-West Attorney Generals
DETAILS of operational modalities for the Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Operation Amotekun emerged at the weekend, as it was revealed that operatives of Amotekun will be known as corps and will bear licensed firearms while working.
Ekiti State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Olawale Fapohunda, made the revelation while speaking on the outcome of a meeting of the Attorney Generals from the South-West zone held in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, on Friday.
Fapohunda said each of the Commissioners for Justice in the zone agreed at the meeting in Ibadan to insert a clause which empowers the Amotekun Corps to carry only licensed firearms in the bill for an act backing up the initiative.
He, however, said arms bearing by Amotekun personnel would be subject to the approval of the Inspector General of Police, Adamu Mohammed.
He said a bill for a law to support the security initiative was ready, adding that the draft bill would be presented to the six Houses of Assembly in the zone, with Ekiti presenting the bill to the lawmakers on Wednesday.
The commissioner added that he and his colleagues had agreed on the broad outlines of the proposed model law to guide the operations of Amotekun in the states.
Speaking on the similarities of the Bill across the zone, Fapohunda said: “based on our histories and current realities, each of the six states has individual needs and expectations from the law.
“The model Amotekun Bill adopted by us appropriately reflects these expectations and is flexible enough to accommodate individual circumstances. We were also guided by international standards and best practices in the field of community policing.
On Ekiti’s version of the Bill, he said: “we have drafted a bill that is concise and comprises only the most necessary provisions. Community policing is an important component of this law.
According to him, key features of the bill include the establishment of the Ekiti State Security Network Agency that will oversee the operations of the state’s security corps and the arms bearing power of the Amotekun Corps while on duty, subject to approval by the Inspector General of Police.
He added that rigorous security checks for intending applicants, establishment of Amotekun Corps Complaints Board to look into complaints against the operatives are also part of the proposed bill.
Also speaking on mode of operation for the Amotekun Corps, Oyo State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Professor Oyelowo Oyewo, said recruited personnel would be guided by existing constitutional regulations on the carrying of arms.
He stressed that the Amotekun corps would complement the existing security agencies while there would be collaboration among state corps in their operation.
He added that local intelligence would form the basis of the operational manual for the corps.
“We have been able to come up with a legal framework to back up such establishment of security network in each of the states. So, each of the states will have its own legislation and its own security network corps that will bear the name Amotekun Corps.
“There will be standard operational procedure that will also be in common and there will be an avenue for collaboration among the states.
“We will be depending on our local people because of local intelligence. You can say it is community policing, vigilante but this security system under the name of Amotekun Corps has come to stay.
“Carrying of arms is regulated by law and the Amotekun outfit will comply with all the laws of the land. The operation manual will accompany the bills to each of the state Houses of Assembly,” Oyelowo said.
Present at the meeting were Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Osun State, Akande Oluwafemi; and his counterparts from Ondo, Kola Olawoye, SAN; Ogun, Akingbolahan Adeniran; and Ekiti, Olawale Fapohunda.
The Attorney General of Lagos State, Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), was represented at the meeting by the Director of Civil Litigation, Mr Adebisi Quadri.
Reacting, the pan-Yoruba sociopolitical group, Afenifere, have applauded the move by Attorney Generals of South-West states to have the Houses of Assembly in the region back the establishment of Amotekun security outfit backed by law, describing the move as the best thing to happen in the zone.
Afenifere spokesperson, Mr Yinka Odumakin, in a telephone interview with Sunday Tribune, noted that it was the right thing to do, as there should not have been any debate about the region having its own police bearing arms were Nigeria practising federalism.
Odumakin also said the bearing licensed arms by Amotekun corps was welcome on the account that the Miyetti Allah were carrying individually sophisticated guns without being challenged.
“That’s the right thing to do because Amotekun was set up by the state actors and there is no state in South-West that is not bigger than many states in the United Nations. So, if these countries could have their own state police, nothing should stop Nigerian states.
“So, the whole idea is that there is no debate about it that if we are practising federalism, the states are entitled to state police and you cannot have police who are not bearing arms. That would not be police,” he said.
“If I got you right, the proposed law is saying they should bear arms. That’s the right thing to do and they have done well. If Miyetti Allah members are carrying sophisticated arms, there is no reason a security outfit set up by state governments cannot bear light weapons,” he said.
Odumakin, however, charged the creators of the coming law to ensure that it produced a security outfit that not only protects the citizens, but also some democratic control in each of the states.
Also, the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) has commended the Attorney Generals of states in the South-West region for their efforts in providing the enabling bill to back up the Amotekun security outfit.
Secretary General of the group, Dr Kunle Olajide, in an interview with Sunday Tribune in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, noted that the corps would achieve the desired results “if they are allowed to carry weapons” as will be approved by the Inspector General of Police.
Olajide said the Amotekun security network was established by the governors in response to the growing security challenges in the region, adding that the protection of lives and property of residents should be the priority of government.
Olajide advised the Houses of Assembly to invite critical stakeholders in the region to contribute to the bill during its public hearing in a bid to ensure timely passage of the Amotekun Bill.
According to him, “This is a welcome development. I had already thought that Amotekun might not even give the result we need if they are not empowered to carry weapons. I am particularly happy because sometimes attack might be the best form of defence.
“There is no way to be seen to be protecting the people without having the means to protect yourself from attack. It is a suitable thing and once the public hearing commence, we will be able to make our inputs by then because we will have the full details of the bill.”
In his own reaction, the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Gani Adams, in a telephone interview with Sunday Tribune, advised that after legalising the Amotekun security outfit, the next step should be recruitment of corps to ensure full take of Operation Amotekun by the first week of March.
He said this became necessary as the security situation in South-West had in the past two weeks become a subject of concern with reported cases of killings, kidnappings in respect of the murder of the popular herbal medicine practitioner, Alhaji Fatai Oko Oloyun, among others.
“That’s the best thing because the thing is to legalise it and recruitment should follow and then I am appealing to them that the operation should start by first week of March because for the past two weeks, there have been some incidents.
“We have been getting reports from different places of kidnapping and killing in parts of Iwo and the killing of a farmer in Yewa and the incident of Oko Oloyun. We don’t want to narrow it down to some people.
“And we realised that strange people are moving into settlements in long trailers in Yorubaland. For instance, in Arigidi, my own country home, three days ago, if not for the intervention of the community and the traditional ruler, they could have settled down there and be causing havoc.
Speaking further, Adams tasked them to ensure uniformity of law so that criminals would not have any hiding place in any of the states in the region.
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