Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Afe Babalola, 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 consummation of the joint security network called operation Amotekun.
Babalola said it would be tantamount to illegality for Malami to constitute himself as a lawful court dishing out judgement 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 the Federal Government on operation Amotekun conundrum.
Also a socio-pressure group under the auspices of ‘Ajoro Ekiti’, has asked Malami to immediately resign as the Minister for Justice and the AGF, accusing him of acting the script of an undeclared interest which constitutes a serious threat to national security and the peace of the country.
Babalola, while speaking with journalists in Ado Ekiti yesterday 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.
According to him, “In my opinion, the act has been done; Amotekun had been launched, so let them go on. Anybody who feels what they have done is wrong can go to court. They will meet the governors there. What all the governors have to do is to show them the law- sections 24, 40, 45 of the constitution-and that is it.
“What the state governors have done is legal, so why should they bother? Let the federal government 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 Southwest zone. 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 lives 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 property are safe. The Amotekun outfit has its roots in the constitution. It is constitutional and proper.”
Babalola added that if the security 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 the outfit is to support the police, the government agencies in their duty to ensure that there is peace, there is safety of property and safety of lives. It is a good idea. It is belated but it is lawful.
“All that the AGF said is that Article 45 of the constitution, second schedule, gives to the federal governemnt 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 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 has been on in the last 10 years, we would not have all these kidnappings and other crimes.”
Ajoro Ekiti, in a statement made by its Convener, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, said Malami has left no one in doubt that his controversial national security mantra was anything but the security of lives and property 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 property of Nigerians,” Atoye stated.