GOVERNORS of the six states in southwestern Nigeria have resolved to set up anti-corruption units to monitor the funding of the regional security organisation Amotekun to ensure that its funds are not misappropriated.
Over recent years, heavily-armed herdsmen have been running riot across Nigeria, engaging in kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry. To address the problem, the governors from across the southwest geo-political zone decided to launch a regional security outfit named Amotekun, which translates to leopard in the local Yoruba language.
Backing up their plans with an official launch in Ibadan, the six governors have supplied Operation Amotekun with vehicles and equipment. However, the development has been opposed by some critics who have described Amotekun as an ethnic militia but over the last week, the governors and the federal government have met and decided to draw up a legal framework to govern the operation.
Speakers of the houses of assemblies of the six states along with their attorney-generals have met to draw up legislation that will govern the operation of Amotekun. To ensure that corruption does not become an issue, there are now plans to set up anti-corruption units to
handle cases of graft and abuse of power levelled against Amotekun operatives.
Among the options being looked at are the creation if the office of an ombudsman to check the excesses of the operatives. Under these plans, the unit or the ombudsman, depending on the preference of each state, would receive complaints on cases such as bribery, extortion, misuse of power, human rights abuses and other complaints levelled against any Amotekun operative.
One official said: “Some of the operatives may want to take advantage of their powers to extort money from people or engage in other forms of corruption. The anti-corruption unit or an ombudsman will take care of this.”
Ekiti State attorney-general, Wale Fapohunda, confirmed that there would be anti-corruption provisions in the proposed Amotekun law. He added that Ekiti State was proposing the inclusion of citizens’ complaints provision in the proposed Amotekun law.
Mr Fapohunda said: “There must be anti-corruption provisions in the law. The proposed law must have citizens’ complaints provisions, including a framework for an independent ombudsman with strong authority to receive complaints from the public on matters of corruption and abuse of power.
“The proposal is to have an independent person. Each state will appoint an independent person that will be like an ombudsman; with strong authority to receive complaints and deal with them immediately.”
“If you have a case, for example, that a citizen was tortured or beaten or so, that ombudsman will be responsible for receiving such a complaint and when it is established as a credible complaint, the law will take its ordinary course. For any person responsible, the ombudsman can now advise that such a person must be removed, prosecuted or dismissed.”
He added that under the proposed law, the ombudsman could recommend prosecution or dismissal of an errant operative depending on the degree or nature of the violation. Mr Fapohunda said: “Each state will have a call centre like what the police operate, the states had agreed on that before now, so you can call and make reports.
“The primary organisational goal of Amotekun must be to work with individual citizens, communities, public and private organisations, formal and informal security agencies to identify and resolve security issues which potentially affect the liveability of communities. The proposed law must have clear provisions on respect for human rights and must have clear provisions on accountability and transparency.
“Also, the proposed law must include provisions on gender considerations in recruitment of personnel. There must be sustainable funding provisions in the law and clear provisions on modalities for collaboration including sharing information, resources and expertise between the six states.”
Mr Fapohunda stressed that the proposed law would not stipulate how much would be paid to Amotekun operatives. However, it is expected that Amotekun would be funded from Security Trust Fund.