SPEAKERS of the six state houses of assembly across the southwest geo-political zone have begun the process of passing the necessary legislation to make the regional security outfit Amotekun legal by passing by-laws that will give it authority.
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 yesterday 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. Bamidele Oleyelogun, the speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly and chairman of the Conference of Speakers of South West States Legislatures, issued a statement on the matter after meeting with his colleagues from across the geo-political zone.
This summit was attended by all the speakers including Adebo Ogundoyin (Oyo), Funminiyi Afuye (Ekiti), Bamidele Oleyelogun (Ondo), Taiwo Oluomo (Ogun), Timothy Owoeye (Osun) and Mudashiru Obasa (Lagos). After the meeting they all expressed support for Amotekun, saying it would go a long way in curbing the worrisome security problems facing the region.
Mr Oleyelogun said, “The establishment of the security outfit in the southwest is in tandem with the constitution, which makes the protection of lives and properties a matter of priority for any responsible government. Operation Amotekun is a welcome development, especially in the spirit of existing community policing laws in the southwest states.
“We have collectively resolved that the issue of security as it is in the region especially and the country as a whole, can no longer continue to be handled with kids glove. As legislators, we must do our bit to complement the efforts of our governors through legislation that will give legal strength to the security force.”
In a sure sign that opposition to the move has ended, Mr Malami explained that he did not say that Amotekun was illegal, pointing out that he had been misquoted. It is believed that at the meeting, he pointed out that the initiative needs to be backed by the passing of the necessary laws for it to become legal.
Mr Malami said: “I was misinterpreted on Operation Amotekun, I did not say it’s illegal. I said the Operation Amotekun should be properly backed by law, so if at the end of this government, if the operation has been backed by law, any government that eventually succeeded this government would not rubbish the operation.
“I said if they failed to enact a law in support of Amotekun in the southwest of Nigeria, another government can come and say it’s illegal and this is because it is not backed up by any law. So, it is just a piece of advice to the state governors to use their power and the state houses of assembly in their various states to enact a law that will make the operation more effective.”