The verdict was “no going back on Amotekun” at the public hearing on Amotekun on Monday at the Lagos State House of Assembly.
The Lagos Arewa community/Miyeti Allah, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Muslim community, Community Development Associations (CDAs), Community Development Committees (CDCs), state security outfits, traditional rulers including the Aare Ona Kakanfo, Otunba Gani Adams, political party leaders both APC and PDP, Agbekoya, traditional worshippers, lawmakers, state exco members, security experts and civil society organisations insisted Amotekun is a necessity that has come to stay.
Lagos Speaker, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa set the ball rolling in his keynote address when he declared that Amotekun, as a security outfit, in the state and the South West has come to stay.
However, there was uproar of disapproval when the secretary to the Hausawa community in Alimosho, Ibrahim Abubakar speaking on behalf of the Hausa community and Miyetti Allah in the state, cautioned against provocative statements on Amotekun by some people.
He said they should be given a sense of belonging and carried along, saying “we don’t have anything against Amotekun but we want to be carried along,” he said.
There was also a shout of approval when Cardinal James Odumbaku, a member of the Governor’s Advisory Committee, GAC, said everything must be deployed to make Amotekun work.
Speaker Obasa noted that the idea generated different reactions from Nigerians but that the South West cannot relent in the zone’s bid to ensure people are safe.
The speaker said the bill on Amotekun would be accommodated in the existing law.
“Amotekun has come to stay and we must stand by it,” he said.
According to him, Amotekun has been supported by over 40 million Yoruba people and, as a result, it would only be wise to favour the bill.
“Our race has spoken and we must stand by it but in line with the constitution,” he said.
Gani Adams decried the pessimism that trailed the Amotekun by people outside South West, saying it was not necessary.
“Yorubas are one of the most organized races and this public hearing for stakeholders to make inputs has justified my position.
He said it was very gratifying that for the first time in the history of the Yorubas they were talking with one voice on Amotekun.
“Amotekun has brought the unity we have been talking about in Yorubaland, this is the first time everybody in South West is speaking with one voice.
“Those who are afraid have nothing to fear, insecurity does not discriminate on tribe, religion or political party”, Adams said.
A member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who represented the state PDP chairman, Adedeji Doherty, also said PDP is in full support of Amotekun but advised that the engagement of personnel should be purely on merit not party, tribe, religion or nepotism.
While a representative of the CDAs and CDCs advised they and community leaders should be included in the recruitment of Amotekun as well as to work with them.
Other stakeholders said the roles of Amotekun must be clearly defined to avoid constitutional crisis while the Vigilante Group also wants to be incorporated in Amotekun since they have been engaged in community policing.
Lagos Publicity Secretary of APC, Seye Oladejo, said in recruitment educational qualifications should be de-emphasised while criteria should be knowledge of the locality and culture of the terrain, recruitment should be locally based while a security expert, advocated for a technocrat in security to head the outfit instead of retired police or army officer.
Reviewing the bill tagged ‘A law to amend the Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps Agency Law, 2019’, Majority Leader of the House, Sanni Agunbiade said: “Amotekun corps would be depicted by the image of a leopard, an animal with the capacity to penetrate anywhere.
“The lawmaker said the outfit would perform same functions like the Neighbourhood Safety corps.”
However, the operatives would be made to carry licensed arms subject to the approval of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and collaborate with security agencies in Lagos and other states.
He said the exercise is not new but that it is an amendment to the Neighbourhood Safety law which has been in existence since 2016 to accommodate Amotekun corps.
The lawmaker added that the laws guiding Amotekun are all embedded in the Neighbourhood Safety Corps law and this is the reason for the decision to amend it.
With the amendment, “Amotekun is to collaborate with and assist the police and other security network agencies in gathering information about crime, crime investigation, arrest and prosecution of persons suspected or involved in kidnapping, terrorism, cattle rustling, cultism, highway robbery and such other criminal activities,” Agunbiade said.
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