Afe Babalola States Position on ‘Amotekun’ Security outfit
A legal luminary and founder of Afe Babalola University Ado -Ekiti, Chief Afe Babalola, has defended the launch of the Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Operation ‘Amotekun’, saying it has its root in the 1999 constitution of the country.
Babalola, who was reacting to the declaration of the security outfit as illegal and unconstitutional by the Attorney of General of Federation, Abubakar Malami, said that the south-west governors only set up the outfit to complement the efforts of the established security agencies in enhancing the protection of lives and property of residents in the region.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria while speaking with newsmen at the weekend in Ado-Ekiti noted that the Federal Government should be the one to approach the court to seek redress since it waited until after the formation of Amotekun before making its position known.
According to him: “In my opinion, the act has been done, Amotekun had been launched, let them go on. Anybody that feels what they have done is wrong can go to court. They will meet the governors there. All the governors would have to do is to show them the law, the constitution, sections 24, 40, 45. That is it.
“What the state governors have done is legal, so why should they bother? Let the FG try to go to court. It is a case that must fail if they go to court. They have not set up a parallel police outfit. The constitution says it is your duty to protect the interest of yourself and others and join together in doing so. So simple. The case will be so easy to win.
“The Amotekun outfit is a protective and supportive outfit established by the governors of the south-west. It has its roots in the 1999 Constitution and the previous constitutions before it – 1960, 1963.
“Section 24 of the constitution provides that ‘It shall be the duty of every citizen to make a positive and useful contribution to the advancement, progress and well-being of the community where he resides’. Well-being means security of life and property. How many Nigerians realise that they have a duty to assist and to protect the interest of the community and themselves?
“Section 40 goes further that ‘Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular, he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests’.
“When you put these two together, it shows that all of us have the duty to associate whether as Yoruba people or as state people to ensure that lives and properties are safe. The Amotekun outfit has its roots in the constitution. It is constitutional, it is legal, it is proper.”
Babalola, however, declared that the formation of the security outfit was belated, adding that had it been it was established about 10 years ago, the issues of killings, kidnappings and other banditry actions could have been reduced drastically in the zone.
“If this outfit had been established about 10 years ago, we would know that kidnappers are hiding in so-so place, we won’t have those who go to the farms to kill people because they would be fished out. That is why the constitution says that such an outfit should report to the police.
“What I have just said is that it is to support the police, support the government in their duty to ensure that there is peace, there is safety of property, safety of lives. It is a good idea. It is belated but it is lawful and constitutional.
“All that the AGF said is that Article 45 of the constitution, the second schedule gives to the FG the exclusive power to manage the police, he did not say that sections 20, 40 and 45 are abrogated. They cannot abrogate it.
“The sections I have quoted are superior to the schedule he is talking about and in any event, the governors have not set up a parallel police outfit, what they have done is to set up a supportive and protective organ to assist the police and in their communiqué, they said it would report to the police.
“The law says you can join together in an association to assist the police. How can the police or any government be angry about this? In fact, the FG should really thank the governors and blame them for coming too late because if this outfit has been on in the last 10 years, we would not have all these kidnappings and crimes. They should immediately thank these people for what they are doing.”