Ola Ajayi – Ibadan
The Yoruba Leadership and Peace Initiative (TYLPI) yesterday criticized the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN) of unduly overheating the polity and putting the nation on the boil with his declaration that the recently launched Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Amotekun was illegal.
The minister had declared that the six South-West governors of Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Lagos lacked the constitutional powers to set up the regional security outfit, raised to combat the wave of kidnapping, banditry and other violent crimes which engulfed the zone for a major part of last year, warning of sanctions if they continued to operate or associate with the scheme.
He said the security initiative amounted to duplication or usurpation of the mandate of the police, military and other security agencies empowered to defend Nigeria’s territories or parts thereof.
TYLPI, in a press release signed by its President and General Secretary, Mr Olusegun K Ahmadu and Mr Olufemi J. Adefemiwa respectively, deplored the minister’s stance as insensitive, insincere and smacking of bias and double standard, when the federal authorities had kept mute and even continued to lend support to the formation and operation of similar security bodies such as the Hisbahs and Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF) in certain troubled parts of the north.
It dismissed the AGF’s allegation that the regional initiative breached the constitution as lame, hypocritical and vexatious, wondering: “Where was the Federal Government and the AGF when Hisbah operatives recently arrested a policeman in the north? Why would the same Federal Government that lent and still lends support to those outfits now find the constitution sacred?”
The group, comprising eminent Yoruba intellectuals, professionals and businessmen, in Nigeria and in the Diaspora, said the Federal Government has tipped the nation to the precipice of crisis and instability, as “Malami’s insensitive and vexatious outburst has dangerously resurrected all the divisive tendencies, mutual distrust, differences, fissures and dichotomy which had plagued relations among the various sections of the country, judging by the public outrage that has trailed the incident.”
To douse tension, advance national integration, and stave off a looming crisis, TYLPI advised the Federal Government to encourage the South-West governors to perfect the process that would make Amotekun effective as a demonstration of good faith and its professed commitment to safeguarding lives and property of all Nigerians irrespective of tribe, creed and political persuasions.
In order to disprove critics and the charge that it gave preferential treatment to certain sections of the country, the Yoruba think-thank further admonished, stressing: “The Federal Government should see the rationale behind Amotekun and let it be. We must not see everything from the perspective of north-south dichotomy. Neither must we see it as Fulani versus Yoruba nor we versus them,” the group said.
The body urged the governors *not to heed the* advice that they should ignore the need to test the validity of fundamental legal and constitutional issues raised by the Federal Government bordering on jurisdictions of both parties under the federal system on security issues, noting that such disposition would amount to disrespect and affront on the rule of law.
TYLPI lauded the governors for launching Amotekun, describing the move as a right and bold step against insecurity that seemed to want to take root in the region.