EKITI State branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has advocated a compulsory psychiatric test for anyone wishing to work as an operative with the newly created regional security operation Amotekun.
Last Friday, the Ekiti State House of Assembly became the first of the six parliaments in the southwest geo-political zone to pass the Amotekun bill into law. All that remains now is for Governor Kayode Fayemi to assent to the bill and Amotekun will become a legal and constitutional entity in Ekiti State.
At the moment, the bill is before the Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, Ondo and Osun state houses of assembly and by the end of the week, the process is expected to be completed across the geo-political zone. One of the fears with Amotekun is that it may end up either becoming another lawless militia group or a set of licensed thugs used by governors to harass their political opponents.
To avoid either of these scenarios, Amotekun is being backed up with robust laws that include the creation of an independent complaints bureau. Also, in the bill presented to the Oyo State House of Assembly, before anyone is employed as an Amotekun operative, they need to get a letter of commendation from their district police officer, local government chairman or traditional ruler.
Taking the introduction of these safeguards further, Olakanmi Falade, the chairman of the NBA’s Ado Ekiti branch, said psychiatric tests should also be introduced. He added that the step became necessary as a result of alleged incessant misconduct of conventional security agencies, leading to brutality and unwarranted incarceration and killings of Nigerians.
Mr Falade said: “Under the interpretation of sections, arms should not mean firearms alone, it should also include axes, cutlasses and even sticks. That, I think would have been taken into account before passage.
“Also, I proposed that in addition to criteria for employment of officials, a mandatory psychiatric test should be added in the law as stated in Section 19 which dealt with recruitment. The passed bill before transmission to the executive with amendments should include this as the mental stability of whoever carries arms matters to Nigerians.
“We have seen cases of how Nigerians were being abused by security operatives and we have seen how those that were supposed to guarantee safety ended up killing innocent people over flimsy excuses. I appeal to the House to effect this while amending transmitting to the executive.
“I observed that the composition of a board that will superintend over the agency was contained in the passed bill, so I believe the board will be given the power to set their own rules and criteria for recruitment when they begin operation. The board must adopt this as part of the rules for recruitment even if it ends not being part of the amendments. This should be taken seriously in the recruitment exercise, so that the operatives won’t turn out to be lawbreakers.”