The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, argued that security “is a matter that is within the exclusive operational competence of the Federal Government of Nigeria. He added that: “No other authority at the state level, whether the executive or legislature has the legal authority over defence.” The argument he made was that military and paramilitary outfits to defend Nigeria and its citizens is determined by the Constitution. “no State Government, whether singly or in a group has the legal right and competence to establish any form of organization or agency for the defence of Nigeria or any of its constituent parts.
As we all know, the primary responsibility of government at any level is the protection of lives and property of the citizen. In carrying out this function, the state employs different layers of measures to ensure effective and efficient policing. It is without doubt that in the past decade, particularly, the current policing administration in our dear country had been stretched to its limits and it is obvious that the reality of our domestic security upheaval will demand of us to recalibrate our police systems.
In achieving this noble goal, the police, the armed forces, and the court of law have swung into action with a view to protect the rights and liberties of Nigerian citizens and its residents within the country. Individuals’ conducts and behaviours living together and within the Nigerian society have been regulated in order for them to conform to the laid down rules and regulations, even as those violating the laws are punished.
Many writers argue that many State governments established such organazations like Kaduna State security outfit known as the “Kaduna State Vigilance Service” to assist security agencies to tackle criminality. The Sokoto State Government also established a local security outfit called “Yan Banga,” which operates in almost all the villages in the state to track criminals and hand them over to security agencies for prosecution. In Zamfara State, it established ‘Yan Sakai’ Local Vigilantes. Kano State has established the Hisbah Corps in 2003. In Borno State, the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) was created under the last administration called BOYES (Borno Youth Volunteers). They work in collaboration with the military to fight Boko Haram. Also working for the security of the state are local hunters and vigilante groups which have been around even before insurgency. The other North East States have similar outfits. In Taraba State, the Taraba Marshalls is a local security outfit set up by the state government in 2018 to tackle insecurity and other violent crimes. Rivers State Government’s Neighbourhood Safety Corps Agency. Ebonyi State Government also has the Neighbourhood Watch Group with membership drawn from the 13 local government areas of the state to complement the efforts of security agencies to control crimes and other security challenges in the state.
Since the return of civilian administration in the coyntry, Nigeria has witnessed an increase in the activities of ethnic and regional militia, vigilantes, and other armed groups in the last few years. One of the better-known of these groups is the O’odua People’s Congress (OPC) in the southwest which campaigns to protect the interests of the Yoruba ethnic group and seeks autonomy for the Yoruba people. The OPC is a complex organization which has taken on several different roles as it has adapted to the changing political and security environment in Nigeria.
Therefore federal government should do something to avert serious insecurity which Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN), codenamed Operation Amotekun may cause as the case. Nigerians have not forgotten that OPC was responsible for numerous human rights abuses and acts of violence, and its members have killed or injured hundreds of unarmed civilians In its spheres of activity-ethnic militancy and vigilantism- and fighting crimes.
The most widespread killings by the OPC took place in the context of clashes between Yoruba, Hausa’s and other ethnic groups, which reached a peak during 2000 and 2002. However, violence and human rights abuses continued in 2000, 2001 and 2002. Between these years, Nigerians witnessed how OPC activities ranging from political agitation for Yoruba autonomy and promotion of Yoruba culture to violent confrontation with members of other ethnic groups resided in the South Western states in the name of vigilantism and crime-fighting.
How sure are we that Amotekun will not commit the same large-scale killings by the OPC in 2003. The clashes between OPC and other ethnic groups especially Hausas living in the southwest and how the southwest governors and the promoters of Amotekun will act to avert ethnic tensions which may likely arise. My concern on the formation of Amotekun is not personal but on safety of other ethnic groups living in the south west. There is likelyhood that members of Amotekun will commit large scale human right abuses based on ethnic differences. Finally, chairman of the South West Governors Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu, has said there is no going back on the operation of the regional security agency, Amotekun, which they are prepared to pursue to its logical conclusion. Governor Akeredolu emphasised that the governors of the region were committed to improved security and are particularly keen to address the rising wave of banditry, kidnapping and farmers and herders’ clashes. The stage is therefore set for a major confrontation between the Federal Government and the South West States.
I blame previous administrations for not doing the needful in making sure that the Nigerian federation is kept intact by ensuring that law and order are maintained. It is one of the important responsibilities of the federal government to bring peace and tranquillity in the nation. However, Federal Government has for decades ignored State governors setting up security agencies all in the name of supporting security agencies in their respective States.
Dukawa Can be reach at [email protected]
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SOURCE :The Nigerian Voice (opinions)