POSITION PAPER PRESENTED BY THE MUSLIM CONGRESS (TMC), LAGOS STATE AT THE PUBLIC HEARING ORGANIZED BY THE LAGOS STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY AT THE ASSEMBLY PAVILION ON MONDAY FEBRUARY 24TH, 2020 ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE LAGOS AMOTEKUN CORPS
Security is vital for national cohesion, peace and sustainable development. It is the need for security that formed the basis of the social contract between the citizens and the state, where the people surrendered their right to the government in whom they entrusted the protection of their lives and properties.
By the same token, every state should be able to set up its security institutions to meet its core remit of protecting the citizens especially in the face of mounting security challenges. And in fighting insecurity, the State needs a security strategy that involves all institution, including both the state and non-state actors as the buy-in of the people is required to build and sustain peace and stability.
In the context of the prevailing security breaches across the country, it is the furore over the scores of lives that are being lost to preventable insecurity almost on a daily basis that has given birth to the first regional security outfit in our nation’s history, Operation Amotekun. This conception, we believe, is intended as an accompaniment to the extant security architecture and as such it is commendable, after all, the people of Nigeria, regardless of their ethnicity, have a duty to make useful contribution to the well-being of their communities as enshrined in Section 24 of the Constitution.
Howbeit, Operation Amotekun is an incontrovertible proof of the politics of protection and the incapability of the Nigerian Police whose odious inefficiency and servile character has forced the citizens to hold a watered-down opinion of it as a branch of the security apparatus. In view of this, we call for the professionalisation of the security apparatus such that the culture of brutality towards the citizens may be eradicated while also improving the flow of quality information between the people and the security outfits for better security.
In as much as we support the idea of local enhancement of the security architecture, however, we wish to caution against potential organisational and functional frailties of the outfit that may portend mortal threat to the very lives it is purposed to protect given the sneaking suspicion that has trailed the creation of the outfit, some of which are:
1. The lack of clarity in the recruitment process and procedures – we urge the government to give lucid account of the selection process in order to assure the citizens that no untrained individual or vagrant is giving fire arms or lethal weapons in which case may be tantamount to feeding further breakdown of law and order.
2. Suspicion of being hijacked by an ethnic militia – to gain the confidence of the people there is a profound need for transparency in every dimension of the security outfit to douse the growing suspicion that Amotekun may just be a transfiguration of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC).
3. The fear of brutality and ruthlessness on the part of Amotekun operatives – against the backdrop of the horrifying experiences of the past, the people are wary of overbearing temperament from the operatives of the security outfit with the fear it could lead to a possible rise in victimization. The authorities should know that questions of whether these individuals would be free from police arrest when their actions go ultra vires are part of the concerns for which utmost clarity is required.
4. Ambiguities surrounding the framework of the operations, rules of engagement- the government needs to be explicit on the structure and level of collaboration of Amotekun with the mainstream security apparatus and how it will be funded.
Our position is that it would rather be ill-advised to have a security intervention of this magnitude take root when it is still characterised by unsavoury reputation and sentiments. As the passage of the bill is to give legal backing to the Lagos Amotekun Corps has, somehow, simmer down the public outcry against the launch of the outfit, it becomes even more pertinent that the authorities:
1. To provide objective, honest and dispassionate response to these afore-mentioned concerns in order to placate the public cynicism that has greeted the launch of the security outfit.
2. To be open-minded in looking at the public agitations with utmost seriousness while ensuring that the project truly aligns with the Community Policing Strategy of the Federal Government as stated in the laws of the Nigerian Police.
Every citizen has a role to play in tackling security challenges facing the country. There is need for a unified stance guided by a consensus of interest, irrespective of political, religious or ethnic affiliations. It is, therefore, our sincere hope that the concerns expressed in this Position Paper, as a major stakeholder, will be given solemn consideration as we feel beholden to join forces with the government in finding the recipe that will facilitate restoration of enduring peace, security and rule of law in the state and the country at large.
About TMC – The Muslim Congress is an incorporated Not-for Profit organization that is committed to the goal of nation building with far-ranging programs and activities designed to address socio-political matters of national interest. The organization’s numerous programs and activities cover such varying socio-economic spheres as education, spiritual development, economic empowerment, healthcare, physcial well-being, prison care and re-orientation. TMC enjoys a national spread with heavy presence at the grassroots and significant level of influence in as many LGs and LCDAs in Lagos State.
Long Live Lagos State!
Long Live The Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Long Live The Muslim Congress!
Engr. AbdulHakeem Ogunbajo, MSc; MNSE
For and on behalf of The Muslim Congress (tmc), Lagos State