Nigeria’s Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has warned President Muhammadu Buhari to be careful not to go down in history as the person who led the country to the point of irreversible division.
Soyinka, who addressed journalists in Lagos on the statement credited to the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, saying the proposed security outfit by the South-west states known as Amotekun was illegal, urged the proponents of Amotekun to defy the AGF and go ahead with their operation.
His position was supported by Mr. Solomon Asemota (SAN), Soyinka’s associate, who advised the attorneys general of the affected states to take the matter to court.
He said: “This country is sitting on a keg of gun powder implanted by inequality in administration of justice. If President Buhari takes a wrong action on this matter, he will wake up to find that he is the force that tore the country apart. He should stop making excuses.”
Making a definite declaration, “Soyinka said: “Whether they like or not, Amotekun has come to stay, because it is a creation of the people and you cannot deny a people their fundamental right to protect themselves, since government has failed to provide such protection. And now some people who have been sleeping all this time and watching citizens killed, farmers sent away from their land are waking up and telling us this initiative is illegal and unconstitutional, they should go back to sleep.
“We weren’t expecting certain reactions or objection to a simple operation that was required, but long overdue. I like to think that they did not speak for the government.”
Tracing the history of the Federal Roads Safety Corps (FRSC), which he was the pioneer chairman, Soyinka said having been tired of watching his students and colleagues at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), he wrote a proposal to the then military governor of our state, but there were similar suggestions already. This led to the establishment of the FRSC.
“I have always been believed passionately in self-policing. If it were possible to eliminate any kind of formal policing, I am for it. My preference is always, as much as possible, for community policing.
“This is to show how effective a determined community force can be. Policing the road is not the same thing as going into the forest to confront kidnappers, herdsmen and terrorists, but the policy remains identical,” he said.
In the opinion of Asemota, who was a policeman at the independence of Nigeria, but now a senior lawyer, the problem is that Nigeria is operating both the Common Law and the Sharia Law.
He said: “The Attorney General is Sharia compliant. I wrote a 19-page letter to him, which I also made available to the vice-president, highlighting some of these things. But he never acknowledged it. I was hoping members of the National Assembly would ask the question when he appeared before them, but they confirmed his appointment.
“There is a conflict in Nigeria between those who believe in democracy and those who decide to use the tenets of their religion to achieve their aim. Nigeria is one country with two systems.
“But I am of the view that the Western states are in order. Either party in this dispute can go to court. Can anyone say the banks do not have a right to hire security guards or that you can’t hire a night watchman to protect your home.”
Acknowledging other factors like hunger and poverty that may give rise to criminal tendencies, Soyinka said creating a sense of alienation in a people can lead them to crime.
“Amotekun should not be the only solution. There has to be social action. That is what I am telling the governors that they should move from Amotekun to Arosikun (meaning they should provide food for the people). We must think of ways to feed our people. Hunger is real. Poverty is real and reaching a critical mass. We should start thinking of both Amotekun and Arosikun,” he said.