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Our Take: Nigeria is, without doubt, fraught with insecurity from across the different regions. Although the federal government has on different occasions launched different strategies to address insecurity in all parts of the country, non has been able to extensively address it as new forms of security threats continue to crop up daily. This consequently prompted a divide between the southeastern governors and the federal government in their quest to launch self-help security personnel for the safety of the region.
No doubt the security situation in the country is going from bad to worse. From North to South and from East to West, Nigeria has been enmeshed in a state of perpetual insecurity that shows no sign of abating at least for the time being. Like the proverbial silk gown, each time you’re able to pull together one side, the other side is set loose. In other words, each time some level of calm is recorded at any of the major flashpoints, there’s a breakdown at another. If “herdsmen” did not attack, kidnappers are bound to strike. If bandits are not on the rampage in the Northwest, Boko Haram is attempting to stage some resurgence in the Northeast. Such ugly and dire is our situation; and Nigerians can’t help but learn to live with it.
From all indications, the security agencies appear to be overstretched. Though, over time, the Federal Government has succeeded in launching various operations aimed at tackling insecurity in different parts of the country be it terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling, militancy and so on. As a result, herdsmen attacks in Benue, Nasarawa and other parts of the Middle Belt have drastically reduced. The dreaded Abuja-Kaduna road has been without major incidence in recent past. Many bandits have repented in Zamfara, thanks to the amnesty programme initiated by Governor Bello Matawalle. The unrepentant ones are currently at the receiving end of a fierce and ruthless military onslaught that also covers parts of Katsina state. There has also been a noticeable drop in the level of insecurity in Southeast, Southsouth and Southwest. Alas, all this is now being threatened by a renewed wave of attacks such as witnessed recently in Zamfara, Plateau, Niger and Kaduna including the bloody attack on Emir of Potiskum at Maraban Jos.
On the 7th of January, six Southwestern states launched what they called Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN) codenamed Operation Amotekun ostensibly to complement the efforts of Federal Government in the fight against insecurity in that particular region. Speaking at the event held in Ibadan, Governor Kayode Fayemi dispelled the insinuation that Amotekun is a regional police and gave the assurance that the outfit would only complement the nation’s mainstream security outfits. He stressed that the operation was meant to give “people the confidence that they are being looked after by the people they elected into office” and not to undermine the integrity or sovereignty of Nigeria. Speaker after speaker, these points were affirmed. But the Federal Government disagreed! In its reaction through the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, the FG made it quite clear that Amotekun is an illegal outfit because going by Constitutional provisions, “no state government either singly or in a group has the legal right and competence to establish any form of organization or agency for the defense of Nigeria or any of its constituent parts”. The country’s defence, according to the statement by Dr. Umar Gwandu, the Minister’s Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, remains the exclusive preserve of the Federal Government vested on it through the Exclusive List.
Expectedly, this has set the ground for a long-drawn legal battle between the FG and Southwest governors. Expectedly too, this will unite the entire Southwest irrespective of political or religious differences as has always been the case when ethnic or regional interest is at stake. It follows that the region will deploy all legal arsenals and media assets at its disposal (which it also firmly controls) in defense of the controversial security outfit. But while leaving the legal debate to experts, it is pertinent to interrogate the wider socio-political implications of Amotekun with a view to finding answers to some vital questions surrounding its operations.
Perhaps the most ridiculous argument advanced by Amotekun’s proponent so far is the parallel being drawn between it and that of other complementary outfits operating in the country such as Hisbah in some Sharia implementing states and the so called Civilian JTF in the Northeast. Indeed, nothing could be more preposterous. While Hisbah was established through duly passed laws by the Houses of Assembly of the affected states, Amotekun has no legal backing whatsoever. As at the time of its launch, no bill establishing it or backing its operation was passed in the House of Assembly of any of the six states of the Southwest. Why then is the haste? By the way, what are Amotekun’s rules of engagement? And how could an outfit established to fight crime be compared to Hisbah, a non-combatant apparatus whose major duty is to detect acts of immorality and bring same to the attention of Police or other law enforcement agencies? And how could we be sure Amotekun will not be hijacked by OPC to unleash violence against its perceived “enemies”? And why is birth registration certificate from church one of the criteria for recruitment in a region with a substantial Muslim population? Why not mosque? And what if Amotekun triggers the race to establish regional militias throughout the country? How could we be sure this will not lead to a full blown state of instability and lawlessness?
Apparently, there is still so much we don’t know. Until the Southwest governors are able to come with satisfactory answers to these and other questions, a specter of skepticism will continue to haunt the new security operation. While not disputing the need for collaborative effort in tackling the nation’s security challenges, the resort to self-help in a manner that negates due process, poses threat to Nigeria’s stability or seeks to achieve some hidden agenda cannot be welcome. Agreed, security of life and property is always paramount. Hence, let all stakeholders cooperate with the FG towards finding solution to our current security challenges.
The importance of joint efforts in addressing the nation’s security challenges cannot be overstated; as a result, all stakeholders must collaborate with the federal government to find a solution to our current security issues.
Abou the Author(s): Dr Siraj writes from the Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: All Africa