The launch of South-West regional security outfit codenamed Amotekun in Ibadan which was declared illegal by the Federal Government has continued to generate mixed reactions from Nigerians. The formation of Amotekun as stated by Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State is “to complement the Nigeria Police Force in addressing the problems of banditry, army robbery and farmers/herders clashes.”
The 1999 Constitution puts the control of security agencies such as the police, army, navy, air force and paramilitary organisations under the control of the Federal Government. It falls under the exclusive legislative list. The constitutional arrangement leaves state government with little or no control over security.
In America, where federalism is practised, states are allowed to operate state police. In Nigeria, the reverse is the case. No wonder, in recent times, there have been calls for the creation of state police. However, the agitation has never seen the light. The Federal Government hinges its arguments on lack of constitutional provision for the establishment of state police.
In the last two decades, the country more than ever before has been grappling or rather battling with high rate of insecurity. The rise in insecurity cannot be unconnected with population explosion, climate change and struggle for resource control.
The return of democracy and the desperation of our political class to clinch power against all odds have continued to fuel insecurity in the land. However, the performance of the Nigeria Police Force which is created to provide internal security has been abysmally low. Its members are poorly equipped, lack professional expertise and experience to confront the modern security challenges, while our military has been overstretched and has overstayed in trouble or conflict areas instead of being in the barracks.
The increasing rate of crime in the land coupled with the inadequate number of security personnel has led to the establishment of vigilance groups by state governors to assist our men in uniform.
The Borno State government at the peak of Boko Haram attacks, created the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) to assist the Nigerian Army in the fight against the dreaded group Boko Haram. The JTF members who are natives of the state understand the terrain and assisted the army. The Lagos State established Neighborhood Watch. In Benue, they have Livestock Guard; in Plateau State, they have Operation Rainbow; in Kano they have established Hisbah to mention but a few.
The proliferation of vigilance groups in many states of the federation is due to lack of adequate security manpower and emergency response to checkmate rising of insecurity in those states. Although the creation of Amotekun as a regional security outfit may be in conflict with the 1999 Constitution as affirmed by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, the truth remains that the country is under-policed.
Interestingly, the furore generated from the establishment of Amotekun will further raise the debate on the practicability of our defective federalism. While there are fears being expressed over the likely abuse or misuse of the Amotekun and other similar states security outfits, the constitutional lacuna on security matters between the Federal Government and states should be fully clarified by the Supreme Court.
The continued killing of defenseless Nigerians by bandits and terrorists is very disturbing. This call for security synergy between the centre and the federating units (state governments). This can only materialise through the establishment of state police.
Ibrahim Mustapha Pambegua,
Kaduna StateRead Full Story