By Olanrewaju Adesanya
The Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly,Rt.Hon. Mudashiru Obasa has prevailed on Nigerians not to misconstrue the Amotekun corps idea as an outfit set to stoke warfare amongst ethnic nationalities but purely to ensure security.
Obasa made the assertion at a day public hearing organised by the state legislature, to herald the legal incorporation of the Lagos State Amotekun Corps with enough information garnered from the stakeholders.
“We recall the rapping,arson,kidnapping,cattle rustling is now a recurring decimal and in the wisdom of our Governors they come together to form Amotekun.
“There are peculiarities of each state we are going to look at it,Amotekun has come to stay and we must give it deserve recognition and support.
“An idea of 40million race is beyond tribal connotation,so it must be accorded deserved recognition.
“I want to give a note of warning here from what people are saying that we need to be very careful while talking about Amotekun,we should not be seen as encouraging warfare or an agenda to try to wage war against any other interest or tribes in Nigeria.
“We should be particular about security, protection of lives and properties all around Southwest and we are going to work in conjunction with other states.
“I think on Wednesday all the Speakers of the Southwest will be meeting in Ibadan to see how we can fashion out a law at the end of the day,a law that will be similar in nature.
“The most important thing is that we just have to be very careful,this is not an agenda to set one tribe against another but to work together and protect everybody.
“In this part of the nation,we’ve been clamouring for restructuring,this is going to be a test case for us.
“If we can manage this successfully without instigating anything that relates to war and fuel insecurity, I am sure we are getting close to restructuring.” Obasa said.
Earlier in his welcome address, Chairman of the House Committee on Information, Publicity, Strategy and Security, Hon. Tunde Braimoh said that Section 14 (B) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria stated that security is the number one job of the government.
Braimoh stressed that ciitizens enjoy all the amenities provided by the government only if they have life.
“I welcome you all to the Lagos State House of Assembly, where we emphasise your interest.
“What is being done is an amendment of Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC) Law of 2016, Lagos State. The law came from the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa.
“The public hearing is meant to stimulate discussions on the law. We want to establish a complimentary security network as provided for by the 1999 Constitution of the country,” he said.
The Chairman of Agbekoyas in Lagos State, Alhaji Davis said that they had the ability to fight crimes without using arms or weapons.
“Let us employ those who know the job rather than using enemies. We should not use just anybody. Agbekoyas have the power to cope and fight criminals,” he said.
According to Yoruba Youth Council, banditry, raping, illegal fire arms and trespassing should be tagged a criminal act. Members of the state house of Assembly should be involved in the removal of the commanders.
We should also note the issue of training and recruitment.
Another stakeholder, Mr. Adio Abiola stated that the CDA and CDC should be inculcated in the board.
Babatunde Odunlami explained that hirng and removal of the head of Amotekun should not be left in the hand of the Governors alone, and that members of the Lagos State chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and those of the civil societies should be on the board.
The Majority Leader Hon Sanai Agunbiade while reviewing the bill notes that it was not the first amendment to the LNSC law.
Agunbiade said that the law was made in 2016 and that it was amended in 2019.
He said that Lagos State is not in isolation, and that it is working with other states that have experienced kidnapping, killings, raping, armed robbery, cattle rustling, terrorism and others.
He emphasized that the Governors in the South West states decided to come up with “Amotekun” and that they incorporated it into the LNSC Law.
“It seeks to amend 39 Sections of the LNSC of 2019. The Bill has nine sections with threes incidental sections and six on critical amendments.
“The purpose of the amendment is to energise what we already have in the state and make it more impactful.
“Amotekun is an animal that is brave, bold and vicious and that could operate on land and water. “Amotekun” Corps would be vicious and operate on land, water and even in the forest.
“Members of the “Amotekun” Corps would bear arms that would be licensed by the police to make it legal,” he said.
He said that they wanted to ensure that the state had the impact of the people on whom the law would be enforced.
“LNSC Law is good for us, but we want to have something better.
“Amotekun Corps would make use of the powers given to us by our forefathers. The police itself is short-staffed, so members of “Amotekun” Corps will add value to the force,” he said.
The Aare Onakakanfo of Yoruba Land,Aare Gani Adams allayed the fears of people from other nationalities,citing the fact that it is not a group out to whip sentiment or cause disparity.
“This is a good procedure,the people threatened by Amotekun establishment should have their minds disabused,the various ethnic nationalities here realized that their interest will be taken care of.
“Amotekun is a concept that will represent every interest in Nigeria. I can assure them that it is not a group that will be more sentimental against other ethnic nationalities.
“The only people that will be sentimental are professional criminals within our midst.” Gani said.
The religious flank were well represented at the parley,the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) represented by Reverend Stephen Adegbite commend the initiative.
“The Church is solidly behind Amotekun,we are patrons of Amotekun,enough is enough,we will continually pray for the corps to succeed.”
The Arewa group was represented by the Secretary General of Alimosho,Ibrahim Abubarka,who warn the stakeholders to be mindful of making provocative statements less of aggression.
“We need to have sense of belonging,we want the committee to consider us,bring us on board.
The vigilante group and neighbourhood watch group all made a case for inclusion in the Amotekun outfit,citing the fact that they have track records which the state is yet to commend so this should be considered an avenue to give them respite.
The All Progressives Congress (APC), Lagos Chairman, Mr Tunde Balogun described the Amotekun project as fantastic.
“What we are doing is right and proper,the major obstacle we had earlier is that Amotekun is perceived a regional creation.
“Amotekun is a fantastic project,it is a good concept,it’s roles are mainly to protect the jurisdiction of the state.
It will be collaborative rather than combative.
Amotekun can provide basic information for the police in the state,whatever is done to incorporate this in LSNC is a welcome idea.
Cardinal James Odumbaku an APC leader note that the neighbourhood watch personnel who were previously eased out for no just cause should be integrated in the new creation.
The APC Publicity Secretary Mr Seye Oladejo canvassed the need to pay serious attention on mode of recruitment.
“De-emphasize academic qualification,local ability and native intelligence should also be considered,as regards riverine area the ability to swim should be considered,there should be proper security check to avoid populating the outfit with criminals.
Also supporting the project, a Security Consultant and Analyst, Mr. Dickson Osagie urged the government to emphasise proper training of the personnel of Amotekun, adding that insufficient parenting has been contributing to the high rate of insecurity in Lagos State.
In his comment, the Chairman of the Chairmen of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State, Chief Sunday Olaifa, who spoke on behalf of the party’s chairman in the state, Engineer Adedeji Doherty said that the party is in support of Amotekun.
He however said that the party would want the state government not to employ personnel on party, religious or ethnic basis.
He said that qualified people should be employed and that there are enough charms in Yoruba land to ensure the success of Amotekun.
In his contributions, a security expert, Mr. Gboyega Alowonle said that the state assembly should look at the recruitment of personnel and training.
“Let us ensure that the personnel go through due diligence. You cannot rule out Nigerian Police in the area of security, and Community Policing is also important,” he said.
Also contributing, Mr. Lekan Otukoya advised that the government should give consideration to those who started neighbourhood watch in the state then.
Otukoya said that members of the neighbourhood watch were laid off in 2016 without compensations, but that they had been doing good jobs since 1996, when they started.
Hon. Babatunde Adetunji, in his view suggested that irrespective of the qualification of the personnel, they should be people who understand the terrain, and that there should be penalty for erring officers.
General Secretary of Coalition of Oodua Group Razak Olokoba enjoined the legislature to work out modalities to open and close some windows,he cited the fact that during the state creation the federal government ought to have been cautioned.
“Define Amotekun role clearly, Federal and state roles should be stated the strength of the federal police should be whittled at the state,the state police should guide Speaker and the Assembly not the federal police.
Comrade Gbenga Ekundayo from the Trade Union Congress (TUC) said that there could not be economic growth without security.
Ekundayo said that there was need for creativity to ensure security in the state.
He said that there should be a system to make an average adult parts of the security system.
“We can make use of volunteers for our security system. We need technology such as data gathering and record of the people in the state,” he said.