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Amotekun should have absolute power

Spokesman of the Yoruba’s socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, Mr Yinka Odumakin, tells OLALEYE ALUKO that Amotekun should have absolute powers without recourse to the police

Do you agree that the police should manage the activities of regional security outfits such as Amotekun?

It will be mismanaged and the outfit will become deformed. The way the Nigeria police are inefficient today; the regional outfit risks having the same fate. So, let the police continue to manage their own personnel and let Amotekun remain an independent initiative. That is federalism.

Every tier of the government has its own laws governing it under federalism. The Federal Government and the federating units are coordinate. One is not under the other. It is just the aberration of Nigeria that sees the federating units being subservient to the Federal Government. So, it is a right step for the South-West governors to insist that Amotekun should remain independent and it should never be subsumed under the Nigerian police.

We commend the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, and the Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, for insisting that the outfit should retain its autonomy and not be controlled by any federal force. That is how it is supposed to be.

Do you now think that Amotekun should have the powers to detain and prosecute suspects like the police?

Why not? Did you not hear Sharia courts sentencing people – like recently in Kano? This is Sharia which is not known to the federal constitution. How much more a state government that legislated to form a regional security outfit. The outfit should have prosecution powers. Amotekun should clearly have cells and be able to take suspects to court. Do not forget that some states in the South-West are bigger than some countries in West Africa. If they were countries on their own, would they not have all this apparatus?

Benin Republic today has the police, navy, army and air force; is Benin Republic up to Oyo State? We should not be treated like slaves in our own country.

Do you think that state governments are able to fund Amotekun to adequately perform these roles?

If our states are allowed to manage their Internally Generated Revenue, they don’t need any special funds from anyone to operationalise Amotekun. They have the resources. Look at the Nigeria police presently which is a federal organisation. Despite being a federal agency, the governors still earmark funds to provide for their needs. They provide cars for the police and also support them with other logistics. So, if the governors can establish security funds for the police force, why not for their regional outfit which seeks to curb more crimes and criminalities among the people?

So the funding for Amotekun should not be a problem at all. And again, looking at the area of cooperation and intelligence sharing, there should be no reason for Amotekun in one state clashing with other states.

Each state has its own resources and area of deployment. It is supposed to be a regional security outfit and what we should promote is cooperation; and not competition among Amotekun forces across the states.

Some Nigerians have expressed fear that if regional security outfits like Amotekun are not overseen by the police, they may become tools of political oppression in the hands of the state. How do we balance that?

It is the same way the federal police are being used today by some persons for the exact purpose of harassment. We have a lot of occasions where the police have been used to harass political opponents and everybody looked on. It happens with the federal police a lot.

So, all we need to do to prevent this syndrome from smearing Amotekun is to have measures in place to prevent that from happening. But if you are in the government today, you can as well hire the federal police to deal with your political opponents. It has happened in the past and it still happens.

You can hire the police as mercenaries to deal with whatever kind of opponent. This is why we have to put measures in place to guard against such abuse. We have to ensure that both Amotekun and the police are not turned round against perceived opponents. It is not by disallowing state police that we can prevent this; it is by having measures, checks and balances in place to prevent abuses from happening.

Like I have said before, it is those who want to leave us vulnerable to attacks that will continue to say that we don’t need Amotekun or that it should be controlled by the police. The security agencies have not been able to secure the land against the bandits. What is going on? Convoys of even political leaders have been attacked by criminals, not to talk of average Nigerians.

Clearly, with the collapse of the central security infrastructure, we need groups like Amotekun to secure lives and property and that is why we are insisting that Amotekun has come to stay.

Source: Punch Nigeria

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