MEMBERS of the Western Nigeria Security Network popularly known as Amotekun will be empowered to make arrests under the law that will birth the initiative currently being drafted by the six state houses of assembly in the southwest geo-political zone.
Earlier this month, the six governors from across the geo-political zone launched Amotekun in Ibadan but the development attracted criticism from opponents who described the initiative as an ethnic militia. Attorney-general of the federation Abubakar Malami called Amotekun illegal, while several northern socio-cultural groups opposed its creation, saying it was a threat to the sanctity of Nigeria.
In a bid to resolve the impasse, vice president Professor Yemi Osinbajo called a meeting of the six governors of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti states in Abuja to find a solution to the crisis. Mr Malami and the inspector-general of police Mohammed Adamu also attended the meeting and all parties agreed to proceed with the Amotekun project.
Now that the federal government has agreed to drop its opposition to Amotekun, the project will move ahead full steam, with the six state houses of assembly passing bills legalising the operation. Wale Fapohunda, the Ekiti State attorney-general and commissioner for justice, said that a bill to legalise Amotekun is currently being drafted and under the provisions of the law, operatives will have the power to arrest suspected criminals.
It now appears that attorney-generals from across the six states will meet on February 6 to harmonise their positions and ensure they agree on the same bill. Already, they met in Ibadan last Thursday to kick-start the process.
Mr Fapohunda said: “We ultimately want to create a security outfit that is accountable and responsible to the people of each of the states involved so that they can have faith in the outfit. We have sights on a law that has focus on the people’s lives.
“The legal framework being drafted by the attorneys general will contain the mandate of Amotekun. This mandate is very crucial and that will be clearly stated, then, the bill will also address the administrative structure, particularly as it relates to the issue of accountability and their power particularly as it relates to that of arrest.
“Power of arrest is not new and all our non-conventional forces have the power of arrest. What is important is that when they arrest, what happens to those that they arrest? The way Amotekun will work is that if they see a crime that is being committed, they will have to inform the national security forces like the police, where that is not possible, they can arrest and hand over such a person to the security agencies.”
He added that Amotekun across the different state commands would be working in collaboration. This new law would also spell out the relationship among the Amotekun structures in the six states of southwest Nigeria.
He said, “What we want to do is to look at the best of all the bills and pick a template that we can all adopt. Individual states have their own issues, so we will have a model law that can serve as pilot, that will meet the minimum standard of effectiveness in response to citizens’ concern and of course respect for citizens’ right.
“Once we have that minimum standard, the law will be unique but will be responsive to the peculiarities of each state. When we agree on the template, the six states will have harmonised law but with variations in respect to circumstances of the members,” Mr Fapohunda said.