The recent wave of public outcry against some of the activities of the Amotekun security outfit is a source of concern.
It is factual to state that the Nigeria Police Force is rotten to the core. Also, it is factual to say that the current policing system has failed to meet the basics of policing.
Urgent and radical changes are not a matter of choice, rather a matter of do or die. The general insecurity in the country supports desperate measures to curb kidnapping, banditry and armed robbery on our highways.
However, our desperation seems to have led to the creation of a monster in the name of the Amotekun. The South West security initiative is currently in operation despite the initial opposition by the Federal Government.
Unfortunately, Amotekun will turn out worse than the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS). This is not a prophesy, rather a statement drawn from what is already happening. The same ills that befell the dreaded SARS are now manifesting. Extrajudicial killing by Amotekun has started. Human right abuses have become a daily routine from the outfit while extortion has also become a thing.
Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka had raised the alarm on the possibility of Amotekun metamorphosing into the disbanded SARS outfit and called for a re-training of their minds. You can read up his concerns in link below:
Unfortunately, according to the Ogun State Amotekun Act establishing the outfit; physiological evaluation is not part of the requirement, and the danger is already here.
Following a recent face-off between members of the Amotekun Corps in Oyo state and some youths in Ibarapa Local Government which led to the death of some of the youth; the Governor of the State, Seyi Makinde resolved to set up a committee to investigate “alleged highhandedness” by some members.
‘‘I am fully aware of the alleged highhandedness by some members of the corps. We are investigating these issues to address them promptly.”
The truth is that the problem is fundamental. It can be traced to the law establishing the outfit. Checks and balances is poor. Indeed, their functions and duties as listed in the Act establishing the outfit make them highly unaccountable. Furthermore, the Act also gives huge powers to the state governors.
Section 10 of Ogun State Amotekun Act reads as follow: “The Chairman and any member of the Board may be removed from office by the Governor-in-Council if the Governor is satisfied that it is not in the interest of the public that such a member should continue in office.”
In determining remuneration, the governor also has discretionary powers on such as Section 8 reads; “The Chairman and members of the Board shall be paid such remuneration as the Governor may determine.”
Definitely, the chances of abuse are high. The Amotekun Corps already look more like a glorified Odua Peoples Congress (OPC). Also, the governor can decide to unleash them on political opponents.
Urgent steps must be taken to amend the Act in the six states where the outfits are currently operating.
Also of concern is the functions of the outfits. First, their activities in towns and cities should be limited to intelligence gathering to support the police and other security outfits; while they should be allowed to bear firearms in the forest.
Secondly, their patrolling should be done in collaboration with police and constant training should be done to improve their activities.
Most importantly, transparency and accountability should not just be at the discretion of the state governors. There is a need for a more robust mechanism, lest we risk a journey from the frying pan to the fire.