In this column, on the 8th of December, 2019, in our article “Securing Nigeria”, we wrote, “The security of lives and welfare of citizens of a country is the most important function of government. Even the Bible says that a living dog is better than a dead lion. Once there is life, there is hope but when a man dies, his thoughts perish. No one knows the child that is bearing in his destiny the restoration of Nigeria, so the protection of every life without exception is important.  This is why Section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution states that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”.  The dictionary defines primary as first or highest in rank or importance; chief; principal. A government that succeeds in all things but fails in the protection of lives is a failure because there is a proverb which says that when you abandon the protection of life to secure property, your enemies will inherit your property”. 

The government referred to here, by virtue of Section 14(3)(4) include the Federal, State and Local Governments. It is in this regard that the Governors and Local Government Chairmen are regarded as the Chief Security Officers of their states and local governments respectively. This simply means that the Governors and Local Government Chairmen have the primary responsibility for the security and welfare of the people in their domain. As a student of Management, I was taught that the managerial principle of “parity of responsibility and authority” states that the responsibility you give to an employee must be commensurate with the authority given to him to carry out the responsibility. If the responsibility is greater than the authority, it leads to lack of performance. So if the Governors and Local Government Chairmen have the primary responsibility for the security and welfare of the people in their domain and they do not have the authority to carry out this responsibility, it will inevitably lead to lack of performance with the attendant consequences of avoidable loss of lives.

With the boko haram insurgency in the North East, kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery, farmers-herders clash, cultism etc across the length and breath of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it is needless to say that the security challenges have overwhelmed our security agencies led by the armed forces and the police. On the 12th of July, 2019, Mrs Funke Olakunrin, daughter of Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, a leader from Yorubaland, was gruesomely murdered on the Ondo – Ore road in Ondo State by unknown gunmen. On 20th January, 2020, just last week, Rev. Lawan Andimi, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Michika LGA, and Pastor of the Church of the Brethren, Michika, Adamawa State was also gruesomely murdered while in Plateau State this week, there were reported cases of massacres. Even the President expressed shock over these killings. In the first murder, it was assumed by the Yoruba that she was murdered by herdsmen believed to be Fulanis. This assumption caused ethnic tensions between the Yorubas and the Fulanis. The second murder was done by boko haram insurgents and this caused tensions between Christians and Moslems in Nigeria. All these point to the insufficiency of security agencies on ground to defend Nigerians. Every Nigerian, therefore, supports the beefing up of security and increasing the number of security agencies across the country. The only point of difference is how this should be done.

Every State, local government has devised means of supporting the Federal Government in its quest to defend its people. Majority of the states have established vigilante groups or neighbourhood watches to assist the police in defending their people while others have established Hisbah security outfit and civilian JTF in the North West and North East to implement the dictates of sharia and defend people from the rampaging insurgency of boko haram respectively. The latest security arrangement called the Western Nigeria Security Network, nicknamed Amotekun, was established by the Governors of the South West to assist the police in the maintenance of law and order in the South West of Nigeria. This security outfit has caused a lot of furore in the country. Some persons have even declared the outfit illegal.

Related News

Let us be clear, Section 214(1) of the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999 as amended states that “there shall be a police force for Nigeria, which shall be known as the Nigeria Police Force, and subject to the provisions of this section no other police force shall be established for the Federation or any part thereof.” The provisions of this section simply means that no state or local government or individual is allowed to establish a parallel police force which shall perform independent police functions in conflict with the Nigeria police force. It does not mean that the other tiers of government are forbidden to establish security outfits to tackle specific security challenges that complement the activities of the Police. To buttress this point, even the Federal Government has established other security agencies, apart from the police, through the National Assembly, to address specific security challenges and complement the police force. Such security outfits include Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps NSCDC, NDLEA etc. Private individuals have been permitted to establish private security outfits duly licensed to even carry arms.

This appears covered by the constitution of Nigeria. Section 11(1) states that “The National Assembly may make laws for the Federation or any part thereof with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order and providing, maintaining and securing of such supplies and services as may be designated by the National Assembly as essential supplies and services.” (2) Nothing in this section shall preclude a House of Assembly from making laws with respect to the matters referred to in this section, including the provision for maintenance and securing of such supplies and services as may be designated by the National Assembly as essential supplies and services. This simply means that there is nothing in the establishment of a police force that precludes the State Governments from establishing security outfits for the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order in accordance with Section 11(2).  This is where Amotekun would have derived its powers if the South West Houses of Assembly had completed the process of legalization by making laws to back it up. In the absence of the laws, because of the urgency of the situation, the Governors would have ensured extensive consultations to carry all the stakeholders along pending the laws from the Houses of Assembly. If the Attorney General of the Federation was not carried along, it is not right, the South West Governors should go to his office and carry him along.

One thing that stood out from the establishment of Amotekun is its regional structure. The worries of people that opposed the establishment of state police were the possibility of state governors using the state police to hunt political opponents; the possibility that the state governors, who cannot pay N30,000.00 as minimum wage will not be able to maintain a police force, knowing that if you give a man a gun without adequate remuneration, you may have turned him to an armed robber because he will find a way to survive with what is in his hand; the confusion that citizens will have with 37 security outfits across the Federation and 37 different laws to contend with; the limitation of each state security outfit to pursue criminals into another state when they flee to another state. These worries seem to be taken care of with the establishment of Amotekun security outfit along regional line. The main advantages of organizing Amotekun along regional line will be continued next week.