Senior Advocate of Nigeria Afe Babalola, said attempts by the Federal Government to scuttle the Western Nigeria Security Network Amotekun, would fail because it is supported by the constitution.
Babalola, an elder statesman and founder of Afe Babalola university, said those kicking against Amotekun were ignorant of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and the previous ones.
Babalola faulted Nigeria’s attorney-general and Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami, saying sections 24, 40, 45of the 1999 Constitution impose clear responsibility on citizens to ensure security of their lives and property.
The SAN, at a news conference in Ado Ekiti said it was unfortunate that Malami relied on Article 45 second schedule of the Constitution (amended), that gives to the Federal Government the exclusive power to manage the police.
Babalola defended the Southwest governors, saying they only responded to the yearnings of the people of the geopolitical zone for improved security since the central police system had failed to safeguard them and their property.
He pointed out that kidnapping, armed robbery, herdsmen/farmers clashes and other security challenges prompted the formation of Amotekun as a regional response to stem the developments.
The legal giant argued further that the governors have the right to protect their people because that was the ultimate responsibility of responsive governments.
“Amotekun is a protective and supportive outfit established by the governors of the Southwest. It has its roots in the 1999 Constitution and the constitutions before it – 1960 and 1963.
”Section 24 of the constitution provides that ‘it shall be the duty of every citizen to make positive and useful contribution to the advancement, progress and well-being of the community where he resides’. Well-being means security of life and property, etcetera. How many Nigerians realise that they have a duty to assist and to protect the interest of their community and themselves.
”And Section 40 goes further that ‘every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular, he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests’.
”When you put these two together, it shows that all of us have the duty to associate whether as Yoruba or as state people to ensure that lives and properties are safe. The Amotekun outfit has its roots in the Constitution. It is constitutional, it is legal and proper.”
“If this outfit had been established about 10 years ago, we would not have these issues of kidnapping, killing and other security challenges. We won’t have those who go to the farms to kill people because they would be fished out. That is why the Constitution says that such outfit should report to the police.
”What I have just said is that it is to support the police and support the government in their duty to ensure that there is peace, safety of property and lives. It is a good idea. It is belated but it is lawful and constitutional.
”All that the AGF said is that Article 45 of the Constitution, second schedule gives to the Federal Government the exclusive power to manage the police, he did not say that sections 20, 40 and 45 are abrogated. They cannot abrogate it.
”The sections I have quoted are superior to the schedule he is talking about and in any event, the governors have not set up a parallel police outfit. What they have done is to set up a supportive and protective organ to assist the police and in their communiqué, they said it would report to the police.
”The law says you can join together in association to assist the police. How can the police or any government be angry about this.
”In my opinion, the act has been done. Amotekun has been launched, let them go on. What the state governors have done is legal, so why should they bother? Let them (Federal Government) try to go to court. They will meet the governors there. All what they would have to do is to show them sections 24, 40, 45 of the 1999 Constitution.
”It is a case that must fail if they go to court. They have not set up a parallel police outfit. No. the Constitution says it is your duty to protect the interest of yourself and others and join together in doing so. So simple. The case will be so easy to win.”