Amotekun: Clearing the Legal Hurdles, Getting the Buy-in

Oluwarotimi Akeredolu

With the federal government finally consenting to the idea of Operation Amotekun, the time to address all the grey areas is now, writes Samuel Ajayi

It was a marathon meeting between governors of states of the Southwest geo-political zone and the federal government over the Operation Amotekun, a security initiative of the governors aimed at combating insecurity in the zone.
Earlier, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, had claimed the initiative was unconstitutional.

And as expected, this drew a lot of condemnation from the general public, especially from opinion and political leaders from the southern part of the country, who felt the governors who came with the initiative should have been commended by the federal government instead of trying to kill the initiative.

Sources also told THISDAY that President Mohammadu Buhari was not particularly happy with that AGF as he considered his response to the official launch of the security initiative a bit hasty. The AGF has since recanted.

Last week, during a meeting between the governors and the Vice-President in Abuja, the two parties agreed on how the security initiative should proceed with the federal government wanting the structure of the initiative to align with community policing strategy of the federal government.

Laolu Akande, spokesman for the Vice-President, said the meeting was at the instance of the governors, who wanted to meet with the President over the matter. And since the President was not around, the Vice-President presided over the meeting. Akande said the meeting was very fruitful.

“The meeting was fruitful and unanimous resolutions were made on the way forward,” Akande said. “Having regard to the need for all hands to be on deck in addressing the security concerns across the country, it was agreed that the structure of (Operation) Amotekun should also align with the Community Policing strategy of the federal government.
“It was also agreed that necessary legal instruments will be put in place by each of the states to give legal backing to the initiative and address all issues concerning the regulation of the security structure.”

Ondo State governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, who spoke to newsmen on behalf of the governors, confirmed what the spokesperson of the Vice-President said.

Perhaps, the federal government was actually pandering to the feelings of the general public especially, Nigerians in the southern part of the country.

Apparently taking a cue from the statement of the Attorney-General of the Federation, which declared the Operation Amotekun initiative as being unconstitutional, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association has been fanning embers of ethnic discord and practically threatening the governors to discontinue with the initiative or face some imaginary sanctions.

For instance, a supposed spokesperson of the group had declared that the launch of Operation Amotekun could deprive the Southwest from producing the next President in 2023. It was more or less a master-to-servant declaration that ruffled not a few political feathers.

The soft-pedaling on the part of the federal government was even the more an indication that it was not indifferent to the obvious determination of the governors to see the initiative through. Sources close to one of the governors told THISDAY that the governor told his aides that he won’t mind losing the governorship rather than backing down on Operation Amotekun.

In the same vein, Governor Akeredolu of Ondo State also declared recently that if Operation Amotekun would cost him second term, he would not mind.

Sources informed THISDAY during the week that attorneys-general and commissioners for justice in the six states of the Southwest have been meeting to fine-tune the legal frameworks for the takeoff of Operation Amotekun.

“They have started work already,” the source explained. “After the meeting with the federal government and their buy-in secured, the next thing is the legal angle and the attorneys-general of the states have started work on this.”

If there is anything that has made Operation Amotekun more than imperative at this time, it is the incredible upsurge in killings, kidnappings and communal strives across the country.

In fact, statistics show that activities of the Boko Haram insurgents have peaked lately. It started with the recent killing of the chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Rev. Lawan Andimi, and a soldier abducted by the insurgents.

A student of the University of Maiduguri, Ropvil Dalyep, was killed along Maiduguri-Damaturu road on his way to Maiduguri to resume school.

Last week, the Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, promised to immortalise the slain student. In Borno State, the electricity company serving the state capital said the insurgents had cut off electricity supply to the state capital effectively removing the city from the national grid.

On January 23 this year, a popular traditional medicine practitioner, Alhaji Yusuf Oko Oloyun, was brutally murdered in Oyo State while commuting between Oyo and Ejigbo. His killers are yet to be found.

Just last Thursday, January 30, the President called an emergency meeting of service chiefs and other security heads to discuss the security situation in the country. This was after former deputy governor of Abia State, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, had called on the President to resign over the worsening security situation in the country.

And to cap it all, the House of Representatives, recently, threw its weight behind the idea of state or multi-level police system.

And if that should be case, it means Operation Amotekun could not have come at a better time. As people of the Southwest geopolitical zone wait for the legal framework, they can’t wait for the security initiative to take off.