Kehinde Adewole, Ado Ekiti
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ado Ekiti chapter, says that the South-West governors have not breached any section of the 1999 constitution for establishing a regional security force. This was in reaction to a spate of criticisms that have greeted the launch of Amotekun, the regional security outfit for southwestern states last week.
The legal association added that the governors have exercised their rights under the law, since the point of the existence of any government, is to guarantee the security of lives and property.
There have been criticisms against the formation of the security outfit since its inauguration in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, last Thursday, with the most scathing condemnation coming from the Nothern Youth Council of Nigeria, which described the body as not only illegal but a threat to national security and cohesion.
In a telephone conversation on Sunday, the NBA Chairman, Ado Ekiti chapter, Barrister Samuel Falade, said though Sections 214 and 215 of the 1999 Constitution mandated the Nigeria Police Force as the agency responsible for the protection of lives and property to provide security, this does not fetter the hands of state governors from taking further measures to reinforce the protection of the citizens.
“However, chapter 2, section 14 (2b) gives mandate and rights to the President and governors to provide security across the country and in their respective states, that the primary duty of government is to protect lives and properties,” he said.
“Also, section 20 of the Administration of Criminal Justice allows a private citizen to arrest any criminal and hand over to the Police for investigation and prosecution. Under this context, operatives of Operation Amotekun can arrest and hand over to the Police for proper action.
“I see no reason why people should criticise the body or entertain fears because the governors had spoken about the modus operandi of Amotekun, which was that they would work alongside with the Police, the NSCDC and the Army.
“We had had several cases of kidnapping, killings and ritual cases among other crimes in the region in the last few years, and there must be proactive innovations and actions to complement conventional security architecture to rise to these sordid situations.
“The essence of Amotekun is to rise to the present insecurity in the South-West and governors, as Chief Security Officers, can design ways to protect their citizens as long as such step is in line with the law, which was the case with Amotekun,” the legal expert said.
The NBA boss described the noise around the formation of Amotekun as unwarranted, saying it has a precedent in the history of the country.
“Let me emphasise that Amotekun has precedence. We have the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) in the North-East to combat Boko Haram. So, Amotekun has both constitutional and judicial backing for the protection of lives and properties.
“As usual, once anyone is arrested, he will be immediately handed over to the Police. With this, it’s a welcome development and it’s a right step in the right direction.
“Any citizen or governor in the South-West who refuses to support this laudable and great idea is several years behind time,” Falade said.