..As Hausawa, religious groups, stakeholders demand inclusion in recruitment, board composition
..Executive seeks review in a section of bill
By Olasunkanmi Akoni and Ebun Sessou
Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, Aare Ona of Yoruba land, Iba Ganiu Adams, and other contributors, on Monday, declared that “there is no going back on establishment and operations of Amotekun as a security outfit” in the state and the South West region, saying, it has come to stay.
The duo, spoke at a public hearing on a law to amend the Lagos State Neigbourhood Safety Corps Agency Law, 2019, aimed at establishing “Amotekun Corps” in Lagos State, held at the state House of Assembly Complex, Alausa, Ikeja.
The event had in attendance, members of the Lagos State Executive Council, various interest groups, such as: All Progressives Congress, APC, in Lagos, led by its chairman, Babatunde Balogun, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, traditional rulers, representative of Hausawa communities, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), civil society, vigilante groups, among others.
Obasa said the outfit had become important for the security of lives and properties of the people.
“I’m sure we all recall the incidents before the establishment of Amotekun, the killings, maiming, kidnapping, and their likes.
“In the wisdom of our governors, they decided on Amotekun,” Obasa said.
The speaker, noted that the idea had resulted in different reactions from Nigerians, but that the South West cannot relent in the zone’s bid “to ensure people are safe.”
Obasa, noted that the Neighbourhood Watch was initially, put in place in 2016 in Lagos and that some states have copied the idea, thus making it important for it to be amended to accommodate Amotekun.
The speaker said the bill on Amotekun would be accommodated in the existing law.
According to him, “Amotekun has come to stay and we must stand by it, there is no going back.
“Amotekun has been supported by over 40 million Yoruba people and, as a result, it would only be wise to favour the bill.
“Our race has spoken and we must stand by it but in line with the constitution,” he said.
Iba Adams, who submitted a memoranda to the House Committee on Information, Strategy and Security, said,” When the heat on Amotekun started, a lot of people outside the Yorubaland were pessimistic but I assure them its in the interest of Nigeria.
“Yoruba is one of the most organised groups in the world. The issue of Amotekun will further bring unity in Yorubaland. Since, I was born, I never seen a subject that has brought Yoruba together like Amotekun.
“Amotekun, is not a state police. I want to correct the impression and give the assurance that Amotekun, as a structure, all ethnic groups in Nigeria will be protected.
“I want to allay the fears of those who think Amotekun would harm them not to have any fear.”
Adams, however, called for National support for the operation which he said would further boost security in the zone and the country at large.
Also speaking, Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in the state, Moyosore Onigbanjo, represented by Permanent Secretary, PS, in the Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Titilayo Shitta-bay, while commending the establishment of the outfit, sought review of a section of the bill which borders on the handling of firearms, as well as redefine process for proper licensing of arms as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999( as amended).
Chairman of the House Committee on Information, Publicity, Strategy and Security, Tunde Braimoh, in his opening address, noted that Section 14 (B) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states that security is the number one job of the government.
Braimoh, “What is being done is an amendment of Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC) Law of 2016, Lagos State. The law came from the Speaker, Obasa.
“The public hearing is meant to stimulate discussions on the law. We want to establish a complimentary security network as provided for by the 1999 Constitution of the country. ”
While doing the overview of the Bill, the Majority Leader of the House, Sanai Agunbiade, said that it was not the first amendment to the LNSC law.
Agunbiade said that the law was made in 2016 and that it was amended in 2019.
He said that Lagos State is not in isolation, and that it is working with other states that have experienced kidnapping, killings, raping, armed robbery, cattle rustling, terrorism and others.
He stressed that the Governors in the South West states decided to come up with “Amotekun” and that they incorporated it into the LNSC Law.
“It seeks to amend 39 Sections of the LNSC of 2019. The Bill has nine sections with threes incidental sections and six on critical amendments.
“The purpose of the amendment is to energise what we already have in the state and make it more impactful.
“Amotekun is an animal that is brave, bold and vicious and that could operate on land and water. “Amotekun” Corps would be vicious and operate on land, water and even in the forest.
“Members of the “Amotekun” Corps would bear arms that would be licensed by the police to make it legal,” he said.
Agunbiade, said that they wanted to ensure that the state had the impact of the people on whom the law would be enforced
At the well attended event, other stakeholders across the state and environs expressed their support for the creation of Amotekun in the state.
Ibrahim Abubakar, who spoke for the Seriki Hausawa of Alimosho, suggested that people should be careful about making provocative statements.
Abubakar said that the Hausas should be given a sense of belonging by including them in the composition of board membership inorder to communicate back with “our people.”
Chairman of Agbekoya in Lagos State, Alhaji Davis, said, “We have the ability to fight crimes without using arms or weapons. Let us employ those who know the job and not using enemies, traitors. We should not use just anybody. Agbekoyas have the power to cope and fight criminals and any form of aggression.”
Comrade Gbenga Ekundayo from the Trade Union Congress (TUC), said “There cannot be economic growth without security. There is need for creativity to ensure security in the state. We should have a system to make an average adult parts of our security system.
“We can make use of volunteers for our security system. We need technology such as data gathering and record of the people in the state.”
The representative of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the state, who did not mention his name, stated that the church is in support of Amotekun and that they would pray for the success of the corps, while commending the proponents of the concept.
Also supporting the project, a Security Consultant and Analyst, Mr. Dickson Osagie, urged the government to emphasise proper training of the personnel of Amotekun, adding that insufficient parenting has been contributing to the high rate of insecurity in Lagos State.
In his supports, the Chairman of the Chairmen of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State, Chief Sunday Olaifa, who spoke on behalf of the party’s chairman in the state, Engineer Adedeji Doherty said that the party “is in total support of Amotekun. ”
He however, said that the party would appreciate if the state government would not employ personnel on party, religion or ethnic consideration.
He said that qualified and competent people should be employed and that there are enough native weapons “charms” in Yoruba land to ensure the success of Amotekun
In his contributions, a security expert, Mr. Gboyega Alowonle said that the state assembly should look at the recruitment of personnel and training.
“Let us ensure that the personnel go through due diligence. You cannot rule out Nigerian Police in the area of security, and Community Policing is also important,” he said.
Also contributing, Mr. Lekan Otukoya advised that the government should give consideration to those who started neighbourhood watch in the state then.
Otukoya said that members of the neighbourhood watch were laid off in 2016 without compensations, but that they had been doing good jobs since 1996, when they started.