Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka and human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) have joined others to slam the federal government for describing Amotekun, a newly launched security outfit in the South-West, as illegal.
CRISPNG recalls Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, had on Tuesday described the security outfit as illegal, noting South-West governors had no right to float such agency.
But speaking at a press conference in Lagos on Wednesday, Soyinka described the federal government’s reaction as shocking.
He said: “Our responsibility as a citizen is to take actions against events, phenomenon which militate against our existence, security, productivity and dignity as human beings.
“This has been a result of collective consciousness by people of this region. These governors met and they came up with this solution, Amotekun. Now, some people who have been sleeping all this time, taking belated actions in many directions, who watched the citizens of this nation decimated, villages wiped out, farmers chased off their land. They are now coming out to tell us that this initiative is illegal, unconstitutional. I think they should go back to sleep.
“I prefer to believe that the government itself has not spoken. I refuse to believe that any serious government will raise any objection to this kind of initiative. Amotekun has come to stay.
“Amotekun is only a part of the story. It should not be the only solution to insecurity. We should move from Amotekun to Awosikun. In other words, we should start thinking in terms of how to feed our own people.”
In the same vein, Falana wondered why the federal government would oppose Amotekun’s initiative when similar outfits such as Hisbah and the Civilian Joint Task Force are in operation in the North.
Speaking at the 16th Annual Gani Fawehinmi Lecture, tagged “Federalism and the Judiciary in Nigeria,” held in Lagos on Wednesday, Falana said: “In the North-East region, particularly Yobe and Borno, there is a civilian JTF, well-armed; and sometimes when the soldiers are afraid they ask the civilian JTF to go and confront Boko Haram.
“In Kano and Sokoto, you have Hisbah. Three weeks ago, Hisbah in Zamfara arrested a policeman; they said the policeman was caught in a hotel with three women and they said that was an abomination.
“The point I’m making is that the Nigerian state has collapsed; we are deceiving ourselves. What the (South-West) governors are doing is not more than the Neighbourhood Watch in Lagos. The only prohibition against any kind of group is in Section 227 of the Constitution – Nobody shall set up a military wing for political reasons.
“You can go to Abuja today, as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and apply to the IG for a licence to bear arms; he will give you. And I have asked the Governors of Lagos State since 1999, ‘Please, if I can ask for a gun to protect my family and myself, why can’t you ask for 10,000 licences for young men and women to protect 20 million people?’ We have to go back to court.”