KEHINDE ADEWOLE, Ado Ekiti
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Afe Babalola, has told the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami to take the six South West governors to court over the launching of the joint security network code-named Amotekun.
Babalola argued that declaring Amotekun illegal by Abubakar Malami is itself an unlwaful pronouncement as the AGF had gone overboard dishing out judgement on issues of such nature as if he were a law court. The SAN added that it would also constitute gross abuse of court process for the FG to expect the South West governors to file an action against it on the operation Amotekun controversy.
Babalola while speaking to newsmen in Ado Ekiti on Sunday on the controversial issue said, the FG should be the one to approach the court to seek redress, since it waited until after the formation of Amotekun before making its position known.
His words: “In my opinion, the act has been done, Amotekun had been launched, let them go on. Anybody that feels what they have done is wrong can go to court. They will meet the governors there. All the govs would have to do is to show them the law, the constitution, sections 24, 40, 45. That is it.
“What the state governors have done is legal, so why should they bother? Let the FG try to go to court. It is a case that must fail if they go to court. They have not set up a parallel police outfit. No. the constitution says it is your duty to protect the interest of yourself and others and join together in doing so. So simple. The case will be so easy to win.
“The Amotekun outfit is a protective and supportive outfit established by the governors of the South West. It has its roots in the 1999 Constitution and the previous constitutions before it – 1960, 1963.
“Section 24 of the constitution provides that ‘it shall be the duty of every citizen to make positive and useful contribution to the advancement, progress and well-being of the community where he resides’. Well-being means security of life and property. How many Nigerians realise that they have a duty to assist and to protect the interest of the community and themselves?
“Section 40 goes further that ‘every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular, he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests’.
“When you put these two together, it shows that all of us have the duty to associate whether as Yoruba people or as state people to ensure that lives and properties are safe. The Amotekun outfit has its roots in the constitution. It is constitutional, it is legal, it is proper”.
Babalola added that if this outfit had been established about 10 years ago, the issues of killings, kidnappings and other banditry actions could have been reduced drastically.
“What I have just said is that it is to support the police, support the government in their duty to ensure that there is peace, there is safety of property, safety of lives. It is a good idea. It is belated but it is lawful and constitutional.
“All that the AGF said is that Article 45 of the constitution, second schedule gives to the FG the exclusive power to manage the police; he did not say that sections 20, 40 and 45 are abrogated. They cannot abrogate it.
“The sections I have quoted are superior to the schedule he is talking about and in any event, the governors have not set up a parallel police outfit; what they have done is to set up a supportive and protective organ to assist the police and in their communiqué, they said it would report to the police.
“The law says you can join together in association to assist the police. How can the police or any government by angry about this. In fact, the FG should really thank the governors and I blame them for coming too late because if this outfit had been on in the last 10 years, we would not have all these kidnappings, crimes. They should immediately thank these people for what they are doing”, he pointed out.