…Speakers meet on Thursday
…Constitutional amendment: Senate Minority Leader pushes for state police
By Dayo Johnson, Henry Umoruh, Olasunkanmi Akoni, Rotimi Ojomoyela, Shina Abubakar & Chioma Onuegbu
Conference of Speakers in South-West states has thrown its weight behind state governors in the region on the establishment of regional security outfit, Operation Amotekun, saying the development should be applauded and not condemned.
Chairman of the body, who is the Speaker of Ondo State House of Assembly, Bamidele Oloyelogun, told Sunday Vanguard that they would be meeting on Thursday in Ibadan “to look at the legislative aspect of the outfit.”
He said the Speakers in the region were behind their respective state governors on the new security outfit, adding that there was no going back.
Oloyelogun spoke just as findings by Sunday Vanguard revealed that the Houses of Assembly across the six states in the region have not received any communication from the governors, but plans have been concluded to send the bills on the outfit to them.
The action is expected to take place after an enlarged meeting of the governors in the region to review developments since the launch of Amotekun.
The Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami ,SAN, had declared the outfit illegal in a statement, last week, saying the 1999 Constitution made internal security the exclusive responsibility of the Federal Government.
He said: “The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) has established the Army, Navy and Air Force, the Police and other numerous paramilitary organisations for the purpose of the defence of Nigeria.
“As a consequence of this, no state government, whether singly or in a group, has the legal right and competence to establish any form of organisation or agency for the defence of Nigeria or any of its constituent parts. This is sanctioned by the provision of Item 45 of the Second Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) authorising the Police and other federal government security services established by law to maintain law and order. The law will take its natural course in relation to excesses associated with organisation, administration, and participation in Amotekun or continuous association with it as an association.’’
Notwithstanding, Oloyelogun, who is the National Vice Chairman of Conference of Speakers, explained that the commendations for the outfit outside the South-West suggested that the governors were on the right path.
He said Ondo State House of Assembly was awaiting the governor to forward the bill to the House for deliberation.
His words:” We are meeting in lbadan, Oyo State, on Thursday to deliberate on the new security outfit and our outcome would be made public thereafter. The Conference of Speakers in the states would look into all the legislative aspects of the security outfit and come out with a position. There is no backing down on Amotekun. We are on the same page with our governors on this sensitive issue of security of the lives of our people in the region.
To receive the bill
“This is novel and should be applauded by all. We are happy that those who came out to condemn the pronouncement of the Attorney General of the Federation ,AGF, are not only from the region but also across other zones including the North.
“ Amotekun has come to stay and we are ready to push this through.
“In Ondo State, my governor Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu has informed me that the state would soon send a bill on Amotekun. ln Ondo State we are ready to receive the bill and subject it to legislative scrutiny and approval.’’
Speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly, Afunminiyi Afuye, declined to state if there was any communication so far between the Executive and the House as regard enactment of a law on Amotekun
He, however, said by Thursday, the Assembly would take an action on the issue.
There have been reports in the state about plans by the executive to forward a bill.
”Wait till next week Thursday. You will definitely hear from us,’’ he said.
In Osun State, Sunday Vanguard learned the state House of Assembly was yet to receive any communication from the executive arm, but the bill was ready for transmission.
A source at the House of Assembly said: “Although we have not received any executive bill in that regard, I can inform you that something of that nature is almost ready for transmission to the Assembly. You know the process is a bit cumbersome, considering that it involved the six states in the South West and it must have some level of similarities in terms of mode of operations.
“I actually don’t see the need for anyone to panic, the outfit is meant to protect the lives and properties of the people. We are expecting the bill and when it comes we would look at it critically.”
To ensure that there is a uniform response to the declaration of the outfit as illegal by the AGF, Sunday Vanguard learned that the governors had cautioned their aides not to engage in war of words with the Federal Government.
Specifically, the appointees were said to have been asked not to make any statement on the matter until the governors tackled any challenge that may arise from the central government’s stance.
A source privy to the instruction said: “The only available option for us in South-West is nothing but Amotekun. The fear of Amotekun in the North was responsible for the Federal Government’s hasty pronouncement that the security outfit is illegal.
“ l can tell you authoritatively that the governors are encouraged by the support they have received not only in the region but even across the country and have agreed to see it through, no matter what.
“ There is no other option. It is either Amotekun or nothing. The governors cannot back out now.
“ Can you imagine the millions of naira already spent on logistics and the recruitment of personnel across the region. If they back out now it will be disastrous for them in the region.
“ The police are handicapped, hence the setting up of the security outfit. The governors have assured that the outfit will collaborate with the police and other security agencies. Why the fear?
“ Let the authorities pump more funds into security trust funds to strengthen the Nigeria Police.
“ The setting up of Amotekun is part of the restructuring leaders in the zone have been clamouring for. We are in order.
“ I am sure that if not for the pronouncement of the AGF, the governors would have moved to the next level on the security outfit. I am equally sure that the governors would have forwarded separate bills to their Houses of Assembly. The lawmakers in the South-West are on the same page with their governors on this security outfit. If need be for constitutional amendment, they will buy into it. Amotekun is now a household name in the South-West and anyone against it is against the peace in the region.
“ We have been warned not to comment on the matter again. All comments are now to come from Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission only.
“We have been warned by our principals not to speak on the matter for now. The governors would soon meet to take a joint decision on their next line of action.’’
Speaking on the issue, Senate Minority Leader, Sen Enyinnaya Abaribe, said the position of the Federal Government suggests that some sections of the country are more equal than others.
Consequently, he called for the inclusion of state police in the constitutional amendment to address the rate of banditry, kidnappings and killings in the country.
He said: “It has become obvious to everyone that to deal with the security situation, all members of NASS would be disposed to a constitutional amendment that would include state police.
“Where I worshipped last Sunday in Lagos, the priest described Nigeria as “Animal Farm” where some people are more equal than others. Why should Hisbah police be allowed and Amotekun is not allowed?”
Killing innocent Nigerians
A former Military Administrator of Akwa Ibom State, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, faulted the Federal Government for declaring Amotekun illegal, saying the government could not address the killings and other security challenges in the country.
Nkanga, who is also the National Chairman of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, wondered why government would declare Amotekun illegal whereas similar outfits exist in some parts of the country.
He said: “At the 2014 National Conference, part of the recommendations was that states can come together, and form a Commission for security and several other reasons.
”Boko Haram is going around killing innocent Nigerians and the whole world is saying declare it as a terrorist group, but they have not done that; instead they went to declare IPoB as a terrorist group. It is unfortunate.
“We believe Amotekun is the best thing that could happen to a country where people are groaning under insecurity.
“Government is not responding to the insecurity situation in the country. You cannot tell people not to secure themselves from being slaughtered. That is completely wrong.
“I think Nigerians must stand up now and save this society. We are in solidarity with the South-West governors. We are encouraging other regions in the country to do the same.”
The South-South leader noted that PANDEF had concluded arrangements to raise a committee that would reach out to the leaders of the region, the governors, federal and state legislators regarding the security situation in the region.