Southwest Nigeria breathes life into Amotekun, says bye-bye to insecurity in the zone

CYRIACUS NNAJI writes that with the signing into law the bill establishing the recently launched security outfit Amotekun, it is bye-bye to insecurity in Southwest Zone of Nigeria.

It became a ding dong affair between the federal government of Nigeria and leaders of the Southwest over the legality of Amotekun, a security outfit launched in the six states that make up the southwest zone as a platform to tackle insecurity challenges especially in their forests and inter-state borders occasioned by kidnappings, armed robberies, Fulani Herdsmen impunity which appear overwhelming for the police.

Owing to the legal opacity and bent of the mighty federal government to nullify the outfit on legal ground the entire six south states in unison decided to enact the laws backing Amotekun.

Governors of the South-west states have received copies of a bill to establish the South West Security Network in their respective states which would oversee the planned regional security corps also known as Amotekun.

Dapo Abiodun, Ogun State Governor, took the lead in the move by forwarding the bill to the state’s House of Assembly for passage.

The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Kunle Somorin, told the media recently, “Yes, we are discussing the bill right now, it was sent to the House of Assembly.”

The document was formally presented to the Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, on Monday in Ado Ekiti after the bill was harmonised by the attorneys-general of the states in Ibadan on Saturday.

An official of one of the states stated that final meeting of the attorneys-general in Ibadan ensured that the bill was harmonised and devoid of ambiguities and contradictions that may create conflict in the implementation of the document.

Receiving the draft bill from the Ekiti State Commissioner for Justice, Wale Fapohunda, Mr Fayemi said the security network was designed to protect both indigenes and residents in the six states of the South-west.

The governor pledged commitment to facilitate the speedy discussion of the bill at the executive council meeting and its subsequent passage at the State House of Assembly.

Mr Fayemi said the initiative was a logical extension of the community policing initiative recently assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari and which the Inspector-General of Police had communicated to all police formations across the country.

“The bill when passed into law would ensure that our highways are free of banditry, of armed robbery, of kidnapping, of all forms of brigandage and criminality in our states,” the governor said.

“The bill is not likely to propose an exclusive protection for Yoruba people living in the six states, it is going to talk about ensuring that our highways are free of banditry, of armed robbery, of kidnapping, of all forms of brigandage and criminality in our state and to that extent it is a logical extension of the community policing initiative that President Muhammadu Buhari has assented to, that the Inspector-General of Police has communicated to all the formations of police force across Nigeria.

“My colleagues and I were still in discussion about this yesterday and we have promised ourselves that this will be given accelerated discussion in our various State Executive councils this week and we will also send it expeditiously to our various houses of assembly this week, our discussions with our speakers who had been really waiting for this.

“Some of them had been recalling other honourable members from recess in order to give this an accelerated passage in their various legislature, so that by Friday the 14th of February, the bill that hopefully would have been passed into law would be accented to simultaneously in the six states of the Southwest.”

It is also heartwarming that the Ekiti State House of Assembly became the first in Southwest to pass the Operation Amotekun bill into law.

The lawmakers, on Friday passed the bill presented to it by Governor Kayode Fayemi into law.

One of the objectives of the bill is to create a security network that would collaborate with and assist the Police and other security agencies in maintaining law and order within the state by making available relevant information on crime.

Presenting the report on the floor of the House, Lateef Akanle said certain sections of the bill were considerably amended to suit the peculiarities and uniqueness of the people of the state.

Akanle read the outcome of the public hearing at the plennary, which included that section 5 (I) of the security network bill the governing board should be headed by a retired law enforcement agent, who should be a man of proven integrity or equivalent in the Nigerian Army not below the rank of Major General.

Besides the lawmaker stressed that the bill proposal is a product of extensive deliberation by critical stakeholders, saying its provisions was painstakingly subjected to clause-by-clause and point-by-point scrutinization at the public hearing.

There was exhaustive debate on the qualification of who should head the board, as the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Hakeem Jamiu and Hon Adeoye Aribasoye sought for the reduction of the rank of the chairman of the board should be reduced from Major General or equivalent to a lower rank.

Jamiu said: “retired Major Generals are not easy to come by and when you see them, they might be old or tired. So, let us bring down the scale to either Brigadier General, Colonel or equivalent.

“We have to think ahead of implementation level, so that we won’t run into crisis. How many Major Generals do we have around? Those that are still alive are old for such position, so I move that we reduce the rank to Brigadier General or Colonel or equivalent in other law enforcement agencies”, he submitted.

Hon. Gboyega Aribisogan, the Leader of Government Business, said with the passage, the state had again exhibited leadership by example and pacesetting feature in the southwest .

Speaker of the House, Funminiyi Afuye said the House had fulfilled its fundamental responsibility of making people-oriented laws that would guarantee adequate protection of lives and property of the people of the state.

Afuye expressed optimism that the bill when sign into law would stem the tide of kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery and other manifestation of criminalities that have continued to constitute hindrances to people’s normal social and economic life.

“By passing this bill, we have made history and we will be creating big strides towards providing and ensuring that all persons travelling along the highways, major roads, remote areas, hinterland and forest are free to participate in their normal social and economic life without fear or hindrance.

“One of the major concerns has always been the issue kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery and all other forms of criminalities. We believe that this bill will provide the needed security for our people,” he said in a report by the Nation.

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