The controversy generated by moves to put South-West security outfit, Amotekun, under the control of Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu, came to a head, yesterday, as Yoruba leaders declared that only the court can alter Amotekun structure, saying the body has come to stay.
They said the Federal Government is wasting its time, saying the Attorney General of Federation, AGF, Abubakar Malami, should be mandated to challenge the laws establishing Amotekun in court if government is not comfortable with them.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, had on a Channels Television programme, Sunrise Daily, last Tuesday, said Amotekun would be under the control of IGP.
The statement has been attracting condemnations from eminent political leaders, statesmen, lawyers, and civil society heads in the South-West and beyond.
Known as the Western Nigeria Security Network,WNSN, Amotekun was established on January 9, 2020, in Ibadan, following the alarming rate of insecurity in the region.
The legislative houses of the six South-West states had passed laws establishing Amotekun, giving it a legal backing.
The decision to put the body in place was taken by South-West governors through the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria Commission, DAWN. There was seeming resistance against the formation of Amotekun from the federal government until contending issues were resolved.
However, leading the opposition against what seemed like another attempt to control the security outfit, Director-General, Mr. Seye Oyeleye, said only the court can speak on the structure of Amotekun.
He said: “Our response is very clear, if the federal government is not happy with the operations of Amotekun, it should go to court and challenge it.
“There are already legislations from the six South-West states. “Amotekun is now being run and guided by the state laws. So, if government is not happy, it knows what to do. They should go court and challenge those laws.
“There is no need for anybody to fight. The federal government cannot come and take over Amotekun, it is not possible. If they are unhappy, they should mandate the Attorney-General of the Federation to go to court.
“We keep saying that this is a federal structure. Nobody can dictate to anybody. It is not a master-servant relationship. This is Federal Republic of Nigeria. In a federal structure, nobody is superior to each other and I would keep sating no one is a stakeholder. No one has a bigger stake than the other. We all have equal stakes in the country.
“Amotekun has taken off, it is working fine. If there is any doubt on the part of the federal government or the IGP, all they should do is to go to court and challenge those laws. As long as there are laws in place, there is nothing government can do.’’
Also speaking, a former Secretary to the Federal Government, SGF, Chief Olu Falae, said:” The Yoruba and South-West governors should put up 100 percent resistance. They should resist the plan by the federal government to take over the Amotekun security corps. They shouldn’t allow it in a federal system.
“Any government has the intrinsic authority to make laws and enforce them by their authority exercised through the police force and try those who break the law they made.
“ The state government has powers to establish what it considers good for the people. Before Amotekun, state governments had Forest Law and forest guards. They still have the power to arrest people under state law.
“States don’t need the permission of the federal government or otherwise to make law and prosecute offenders. There should be total resistance by the Yoruba. State governors should also resist the plan by the federal government to take over Amotekun. This is a federation and we are running a federal system.”
Also speaking, a former Minister of Transport, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, described the development as a tragedy in waiting.
“South-West governors should use the constitution to resist the attempt to stop Amotekun. This country runs a federal system and each state should be allowed to take care of its responsibilities in line with its peculiarity.
“Allowing the federal government to take over the security outfit would amount to exposing the region to security issues as other parts of the country. I am urging the federal government to have a rethink and use its power responsibly.
Governors of the South-West should get ready to approach the Supreme Court on the matter. Allowing Amotekun to exist as established is in the best interest of the country.
“It is going to be a great tragedy if the federal government stops a good idea like Amotekun. I will be very sad about it because the security apparatus in the country has broken down into pieces. If they want to take over Amotekun, it means the security situation in the region and entire country will further deteriorate.
”I hope the federal government would have a rethink and not use its power abnormally because it may lead to an abnormal situation. I will advice the South-West governors to tackle the situation constitutionally. After all, we run a federal system. The governors should call on their Attorney-Generals and their lawyers to go to court.’’
On his part, a chieftain of Afenifere, Chief Duro Aikulola, said: “ lt is morally and legally wrong for the federal government to even attempt to take over Amotekun from the South -West governors.
The federal government did not think of taking over Hisbah. Why Amotekun? Why is the federal government treating the Yoruba differently?”
On his part, spokesperson for pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, said: “The South-West governors and people should put up maximum resistance against the federal government. If this will mark the beginning of reshaping things, let it be. There has to be an end to this internal colonialism. We can’t continue this servitude to unworthy overlords.
“The governors should reject operational commands from the IGP on Amotekun. They must also ensure that Amotekun report only to the councils set up by the laws made by state assemblies.”
The Federation of Yoruba Consciousness and Culture, FYCC, threatened to embark on public protest against any attempt to place Amotekun under the supervision of the IGP.
Its Treasurer, Comrade Segun Ajayi, said: “FYCC can never support such a development. They have Hisbah vigilante group in the North. Were they merged with anybody? We are going to resist it with everything within our power.
“We don’t understand why the federal government is always against any move that would unite the South-West region. There is going to be a rally and other actions to that effect.”
Afenifere chieftain and acting National Chairman of Social Democratic Party, SDP, and Chief Supo Sonibare, said: “The federal government under our laws is only empowered to make laws and the executive powers to apply the enabling law concerning our Armed Forces and Police Force.
Note that those security outfits have the power to carry arms. Even concerning the police, the governors are obliged under the Police Act to also ensure they take actions about the security deficit in their various states collectively with the President.
“The President alone does not by himself constitute the Police Council.
It is lawful for even citizens to make lawful arrests. We do not require the coordination of our state Commissioner of Police or the Inspector General of Police to carry out such a patriotic duty under our laws. We all hire guards to safeguard our homes lawfully.
Do we need the consent of the President, Inspector- General of Police, or even our state Commissioner of Police to make such an arrangement? Moreover, concerning policing, the Nigeria Police Force is funded mostly by states.
The governors have a responsibility to ensure security in their states and must resist any suggestion that will compromise their ability to perform that function. They must resist and not allow any suggestion to centralize the control of Amotekun.”