.Group calls for AGF’s sack
Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
A legal luminary, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), has counseled the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to go beyond pronouncement and take the six South-west governors to court over the constitution of the joint security outfit called Amotekun.
Babalola said it would be tantamount to illegality for Malami to constitute himself into a lawful court dishing out judgment on issues of this nature and would also constitute gross abuse of court process for the federal government to expect the South-west governors to file an action against it on the Amotekun conundrum.
Similarly, a socio-pressure group under the auspices of ‘Ajoro Ekiti’ has asked Malami to immediately resign his position as the AGF and Minister for Justice, accusing him of acting the script of an undeclared interest which constitutes a serious threat to national security and the peace of the nation.
Babalola, while speaking with newsmen in Ado Ekiti on Sunday on the highly controversial issue, said the federal government should be the one to approach the court to seek redress, since it waited until after the formation of Amotekun before making its position known.
He stated: “In my opinion, the act has been done, Amotekun had been launched, let them go on. Anybody that feels what they have done is wrong can go to court. They will meet the governors there. All the governors would have to do is to show them the law, the constitution, sections 24, 40, 45. That is it.
“What the state governors have done is legal, so why should they bother? Let the federal government try to go to court. It is a case that must fail if they go to court. They have not set up a parallel police outfit. No. the constitution says it is your duty to protect the interest of yourself and others and join together in doing so. So simple. The case will be so easy to win.
“The Amotekun outfit is a protective and supportive outfit established by the governors of the South-west. It has its roots in the 1999 Constitution and the previous constitutions before it – 1960, 1963.
“Section 24 of the constitution provides that ‘it shall be the duty of every citizen to make positive and useful contribution to the advancement, progress and well-being of the community where he resides’. Well-being means security of life and property. How many Nigerians realise that they have a duty to assist and to protect the interest of the community and themselves?
“Section 40 goes further that ‘every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular, he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests’.
“When you put these two together, it shows that all of us have the duty to associate whether as Yoruba people or as state people to ensure that lives and properties are safe. The Amotekun outfit has its roots in the constitution. It is constitutional, it is legal, it is proper.”
Babalola added that if this outfit had been established about 10 years ago, the issues of killings, kidnappings and other banditry actions could have been reduced drastically.
“What I have just said is that it is to support the police, support the government in their duty to ensure that there is peace, there is safety of property, safety of lives. It is a good idea. It is belated but it is lawful and constitutional.
“All that the AGF said is that Article 45 of the constitution, second schedule gives to the federal government the exclusive power to manage the police, he did not say that sections 20, 40 and 45 are abrogated. They cannot abrogate it.
“The sections I have quoted are superior to the schedule he is talking about and in any event, the governors have not set up a parallel police outfit, what they have done is to set up a supportive and protective organ to assist the police and in their communiqué, they said it would report to the police.
“The law says you can join together in association to assist the police. How can the police or any government be angry about this. In fact, the federal government should really thank the governors and blame them for coming too late because if this outfit had been on in the last 10 years, we would not have had all these kidnappings, crimes. They should immediately thank these people for what they are doing,” he pointed out.
Ajoro Ekiti, in a statement made by its Convener, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, said that Malami has left no one in doubt that his controversial national security mantra was anything but the security of lives and properties of Nigerians, and a contrivance to protect a narrow interest.
“We make bold to say it is dangerous and insidious for the federation, to have as Attorney-General, a man whose actions and conducts have become a threat to section 14 (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended: the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.
“It is highly disingenuous and very risky to know and continue to retain as the Chief Law Officer of Nigeria, a man whose popular mantra of ‘national security is above the court and law,’ was actually contrived to serve a sinister interest, and not really to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians.
“It constitutes a severe threat to the peace and stability of Nigeria, to have as the Minister of Justice, a lawyer whose conduct is more of an impediment to efforts to find additional and complementary solutions to the unabated barbaric killings undermining every part of the country, including the South-west.
“It is equally a big shame to have as Justice Minister a man who is unperturbed by the high level of insecurity ravaging the entire country, but who painfully elected to embark on a frenzy of legal dispute that seriously distracts from the genuine interventions to address an intractable problem.
“Having observed overtime, the troubling and questionable conducts and pronouncements of the AGF, regarding national security, including the security of lives and properties of Nigerians, we are left with no other option than to ask Mr. Malami to step down from his exalted position as the Justice Minister.
“Malami is no longer a fit and proper person to hold the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and as such, he should immediately quit or the president be prevailed upon to relieve him of this very sensitive position.
“Malami’s conspiracy of silence when Governor Nasiru el-Rufai of Kaduna State openly confessed to treason that he went to Mali to pay marauders some money; also his terrifying silence when former Defence Minister, Dan Ali openly defended the rights of herdsmen to carry arms and kill in retaliation; his silence over Hisbah’s actions in some states, and now his curious and provocative response to the Amotekun security initiative that it should be jettisoned; these developments definitely smack of a man who is likely serving an undeclared interest other than the general interest of the country.
“Therefore, we wish to encourage the people and governments in the South-west to continue with the remarkable efforts to secure the zone, and in addition, galvanise the Amotekun initiative with surveillance security technology for real-time monitoring, and not forgetting to consider a future activation of enabling law in support,” it said.