The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) has described the new security outfit in the South-West codenamed Operation Amotekun, as illegal, maintaining that the security and defence of the country are within the exclusive duties of the Federal Government.
He said no no state government, whether singly or in a group has the legal right and competence to establish any form of security organization or agency for the defence of Nigeria or any of its constituent parts.
He said the law will take its course on any group or association linked with Operation Amotekun.
He expressed regrets that his office was not consulted for legal advice by the proponents of Operation Amotekun.
Malami made the Federal Government’s positions known in a statement through his Special Adviser on Media and Public Relations, Dr. Umaru Gwandu.
The statement said: “The Federal Republic of Nigeria is a sovereign entity and is governed by
laws meant to sustain its corporate existence as a constitutional democracy. It is a Federation of states, but with the Federal Government superintending over matters of national interests.
“The division of executive and legislative authority between the Federal and State Governments has been clearly defined by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
“It is against the same background that matters relating to the peace, order and good government of the Federation and in particular, the defence of the country, are enshrined in the Exclusive Legislative List. The Second Schedule in Item 17 deals with defence.
“This is a matter that is within the exclusive operational competence of the Federal of Government of Nigeria. No other authority at the state level, whether the executive or legislature has the legal authority over defence.”
The AGF faulted the setting up of Operation Amotekun.
He said the law will take its course on any group or association linked with Operation Amotekun
He added: “The setting up of the paramilitary organization called “Amotekun” is illegal and runs contrary to the provisions of the Nigerian law. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) has established the Army, Navy and Air Force,including the Police and other numerous paramilitary organisations for the purpose of the defence of Nigeria.
“As a consequence of this, no State Government, whether singly or in a group has the legal right and competence to establish any form of organization or agency for the defence of Nigeria or any of its constituent parts.
“This is sanctioned by the provision of Item 45 of the Second Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) authorizing the Police and other Federal government security services established by law to maintain law and order.
“The law will take its natural course in relation to excesses associated with organization, administration and participation in “Amotekun” or continuous association with it as an association.
“Finally, it is important to put on record that the Office of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice was not consulted on the matter. If it had, proper information and guidance would have been offered to ensure that Nigeria’s defence and corporate entity are preserved at all times.”
Meanwhile, Yoruba leaders have started to react furiously to Malami’s statement.
In the words of Chairman of Afenifere Renewal Group, Chief Olawale Oshun, Malami’s statement is “rubbish”.
Chief Oshun said Malami should also declare Hisbah Corps, (a religious police force responsible for the enforcement of Sharia) and Civilian Joint Task Force in the Northeast illegal.
“He is talking arrant nonsense. Let him declare Hisbah police in the 10 Northern states illegal and also let him declare the Civilian Joint Task Force in the Northeast. He is talking rubbish, arrant nonsense. Those are not Nigerian police institutions and they are not Nigerian security institutions but they were created because there is a need; Amotekun was created because there is a need for it. He is talking nonsense,” Chief Oshun said.
The former Chief Whip of the House of Representatives urged the governors of the Southwest to go ahead with the implementation of the Amotekun.
“That is what the people of the region want. The governors must go ahead. This country belongs to all of us. They must go ahead,” he said.
Leader of the Yoruba World Congress, Prof. Banji Akintoye, said Malami’s statement shows one thing very conclusively that the people controlling Federal Government do not have the welfare of the people Southwest at heart and “we will look at that and decide what we want to do.”
Akintoye, a renowned historian, the Northerners have created many society-controlled organisations in the north.
“They went to create Sharia policemen that can arrest anybody. We, in the south, never questioned that; nobody in Nigeria questioned that. What we have set up is not another police force. We have not set up anything that conflicts with what the constitution provides for and so, we are in a good condition to defend our interests now, that all. The Yoruba people must be ready to defend their interest under the law,” he said.
He told the southwest governors to the bull by the horn.