Amotekun: South-west states pass bill amidst controversy

Amotekun, a model of community policing started by South-West governors [PHOTO CREDIT: The Guardian Nigeria]
Amotekun [PHOTO CREDIT: The Guardian Nigeria]

On Tuesday, five South-west houses of assembly passed bills for the establishment of Amotekun, a security outfit conceived to address the security challenges in the region.

The states are Lagos, Osun, Ondo, Oyo and Ogun. Before now, the Ekiti assembly had in February passed the bill ahead of its counterparts.

The Oyo State House of Assembly passed the bill on Tuesday after presentation of the report of the house committee on security at the plenary.

The speaker, Debo Ogundoyin, disclosed that the assembly passed the bill to fulfill the fundamental responsibility government which is the protection of lives and properties.

Also, the bill was passed in Lagos assembly as a special unit of the Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LSNSC). It sailed through the third reading of the amendment to the LSNSC Agency Law 2019.

In Ondo, the bill for a law to establish the State Security Network Agency and Amotekun Corps Bill was passed. Bamidele Oleyelogun, while addressing the press, said that it was a remarkable day for the people of the state.

The Osun State House of Assembly also passed the bill after third reading. The bill was unanimously passed by the lawmakers and the speaker, Timothy Owoeye thanked his colleagues for giving the bill an accelerated passage.

In Ogun, Amotekun Corps bill was passed barely 19 days after receiving it as part of its resolve to stem the tide of crimes, banditry and other violent acts.

How it started

Following the incessant killings and kidnappings in Nigeria, all South-west governors met to form the Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN) on January 9.

The establishment came six months after all the governors held a regional security summit in Ibadan, Oyo State in June 2019 through Development Agenda for Western Nigeria Commission (DAWN).

Five state governors, Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun) and Babajide Sanwo-olu (Lagos) donated 20 vehicles each while Seyi Makinde (Oyo) contributed 33 vehicles, in order to assist the operatives in carrying out their duties.

The governors also procured 100 units of motorcycles for each state as members of the Amotekun were drawn from the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Agbekoya, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and vigilante groups.

Controversy

On January 13, the Nigerian police threatened to arrest any Amotekun operative of the outfit that carries illegal arms.

The following day, January 14, the federal government, via the Attorney-General, Abubakar Malami, declared Operation Amotekun as illegal stating that it is not backed by the Nigerian constitution.

The government’s reaction generated uproar and protest at in the six South-west states.

On its part, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, described the position of the federal government as a joke taken too far.

It called on the South-west governors to ignore the Attorney-General, challenging the federal government to go to court.

On January 3, the vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, met with the six state governors and they all agreed to work together towards the actualisation of Operation Amotekun but follow legal processes

With the passage of the bills in all states, it is expected that the governors will quickly assent.


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