HOW SOUTHWEST LAWMAKERS GAVE LEGAL BACKING TO AMOTEKUN

•Lawmakers adorn leopard skin regalia, amulets to pass Bill
•Hunters, ‘agbekoyas’ in unique attires laced with charms

Following incessant attacks by armed herdsmen and kidnapping in the South Western part of the country, the governors in the six states making up the region resolved to set up a regional security outfit, Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Operation Amotekun aimed at enhancing security in the region.

The launching of the security initiative on January 9 this year triggered controversy across the country as the Federal Government, through the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, described it as illegal. Some northern elements, on their part argued that the move by the South West was to set up a regional police force towards creation of Oduduwa Republic out of Nigeria.

In spite of opposition, the six South West governors were adamant insisting that there was no going back on Operation Amotekun but agreed to give legal backing to the initiative. They however conceded that the security outfit would no longer be regional but state based in conformity with the community policing which the Nigeria police was anchoring and each state in the region would pass laws giving legal backing to it because of the peculiarity of every state.

The various State Houses of Assembly in the South West therefore set to task and the speed with which the assignment was carried out was legendary.

ONDO

Dayo Johnson, Akure.

Recruitment of Amotekun corps commences Lawmakers in Ondo state had to cut short their recess to give the bill on the security outfit codenamed Amotekun legislative scrutiny and accelerated passage.

The members of the state assembly worked round the clock to ensure that the bill became law. Vanguard gathered that the manner in which the lawmakers dealt with the bill was sequel to the fact that they wanted to lead by example.

Recall that the state governor Rotimi Akeredolu is the chairman of the south west governors forum while the speaker of the state assembly Rt Hon Bamidele Oloyelogun is the chairman of the conference of speakers in the south west.

Within two weeks the bill was ready after legislative scrutiny by the lawmakers and a public hearing which was attended by the governor and notable stakeholders as well as the Nigeria Union of Journalists NUJ in the state.

They stakeholders submitted memoranda and made inputs to the bill during the public hearing which took place on February 24. Barely ten day after the public hearing, the bill for a law to establish the State Security Network Agency and Amotekun Corps bill was passed into law by the lawmakers.
Giving an insight to the bill, the Chairman House Committee on Security Matter, Hon. Ololade Begudu said that the security agency would have a board to be administered by a chairman who will be appointed by the state governor. Begudu added that “the chairman must be a person of proven integrity and there would a commander to man the personnel of the corps on field.

The commander must be a retired security personnel not below the rank of a major or its equivalent and will be subjected to confirmation of the house of assembly.

Adorning Amotekun attire, Speaker Oleyelogun assured the people of the state that the bill after it had been signed and passed into law by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu “would reduce criminalities drastically in the state. He added that “the corps would be a community policing body that would complement the work of other security agencies in the state”.

The state Commissioner for Justice and the Attorney General, Kola Olawoye who was present during the plenary said that with the passage of the bill “history had been made in the state. Olawoye said that “this is the first time that Yoruba race would speak with one voice without opposition. He added that “after all, it is the function and duty of government to protect the citizenry”.

Reacting to the development, the special Adviser to the governor on security Matters, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo said “we are starting the recruitment of personnel immediately. We have perfected all the arrangement. This is novel.

This is what we have been waiting for. We are now good to go.

A day after the passage of the bill by the members of the assembly, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu signed it into law. Signing the bill into law Governor Akeredolu reiterated that the Amotekun Corps “shall be complimentary and not independent of the operations and efforts of the nation’s security agencies.

“We wish to reiterate that the Amotekun Corps is a child of necessity and was purely borne out of the need to explore other means of securing our forests and protecting all those who do legitimate business within the Southwest region. Akeredolu declared that “most importantly, the corps shall not be allowed for political purposes; it has no business at political rallies just as the Police must continue to discharge its obligations and responsibilities to the people”.

OYO

By Adeola Badru, Ibadan

Lawmakers adorn leopard skin regalia, amulets to pass Amotekun Bill It was fun to behold at the Oyo State House of Assembly last Tuesday, as the lawmakers were all dressed in leopard skin regalia while deliberating on the Oyo State Security Network Agency Bill, 2020 codenamed: “Amotekun Corps” bill before it was finally passed into law.

There was uproar on the floor of the House as the principal officers and other lawmakers, led by the Sergeant-at-Arms (who also wore the regalia on top of his official dress), announced the arrival of the speaker.

Some of the lawmakers also wore amulets and arm bands to demonstrate their combat readiness and added drama to the deliberation when they all growled like leopards immediately the Speaker, Hon. Adebo Ogundoyin hit the gavel signifying the passing of the bill by the House.

The bill had earlier scaled through first and second readings before a public hearing was held on it about one week ago.

At the public hearing, no fewer than 22 memoranda were submitted, while traditional rulers, farmers, drivers’ unions, representatives of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN)and other stakeholders were in attendance.

The bill “seeks to create a security network that would complement the efforts of conventional security agencies, such as the Nigeria Police with a view to maintaining law and order within the state and occasionally exchange handshakes with Amotekun Corps of other states in the Southwest when the need arises”.

Deliberation on the final passage of the Amotekun Corps bill began when the Chairman, House Committee on Security and Strategy, Mr. Akeem Obadara, presented his committee report, describing the bill as a product of extensive deliberation by critical stakeholders, noting that the provisions of the bill were painstakingly subjected to clause-by-clause and point-by-point scrutinisation at the public hearing.

As the bill now awaits the assent of Governor Seyi Makinde to become law after its passage by the lawmakers, the Speaker, Mr. Adebo Ogundoyin, in his remarks, said the passage of the bill into law would facilitate rapid development in tackling insecurity in the southwest.

His words: “By passing this bill, we have made history and we will be creating big strides towards providing and ensuring that all persons travelling along the highways, major roads, remote areas, hinterland and forest are free to participate in their normal social and economic life without fear or hindrance. One of the major concerns has always been the issue of kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery and all other forms of criminalities. We believe that this bill will provide the needed security for our people”.

EKITI

By Rotimi Ojomoyela, Ado-Ekiti

Groups add colour with unique attires Since the days of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s Action Group, there has never been anything that united the people of the Southwest, than the current South West Security Network, codenamed ‘Amotekun’. The security initiative was midwifed by the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN), under the leadership of the six governors of the zone, made up of Ondo, Oyo, Lagos, Ogun, Osun and Ekiti States.

At the reading of the bill, up to the public hearing in the Ekiti State House of Assembly, one could appreciate the unity of purpose behind the initiative. Ekiti people from all walks of life were in attendance, especially at the public hearings.

At the public hearing held on Thursday, February 13, 2020, in the chamber of the Ekiti State House Assembly, Vigilante groups of different shades and colour were in attendance. Some groups came in different and unique attires. The vigilantes came in their uniforms, while the ‘agbekoyas’ and the hunters popularly known as the ‘Olu-Ode’ came in their traditional attires with caps to match.

The traditional attires were laced with charms of various kinds while members of the groups intermittently interrupted the proceedings with chants and songs.

Aside from the two groups mentioned above, other groups at the hearing such as the traditional rulers, Nigeria Bar Association, Pensioners, Ekiti Peace Corps, Women Associations, Non Governmental Organisations, Christian Association of Nigeria and others, took turn to address the committee of the house.

Immediately after the public hearing, the House of Assembly reconvened and after the third reading and arguments for the establishment by the Honourable members, the bill was passed into law amidst jubilation and funfair.

OSUN

By Shina Abubakar, Osogbo

Unlike the other Houses of Assembly in the region, the Osun State legislative arm appeared not to be concerned with the urgency deployed on the issue by other lawmakers in the region. The non availability of information about the bill almost set the lawmakers against journalists in the state. The newsmen had accused the lawmakers of hoarding information about the bill which ordinarily should be in the public domain, until the speaker, Timothy Owoeye disclosed that the House had not received any draft bill from the executive arm of government.

A week after some Houses of Assembly in the South West had concluded first reading of the bill, the Osun state executive council was still deliberating on its draft bill. This almost set residents of Osun, especially the opposition party against Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, accusing him of working against the Amotekun outfit.

At the public hearing of the bill, different stakeholders stormed the venue to vent their grievances.

The most notable of the groups was the Oodu’a Peoples Congress (OPC) which almost disrupted the event. Prince Adedeji Aladesawe, who stormed the venue with thousands of members argued that sidelining the group would be counter productive to the objective of Amotekun initiative.

Meanwhile, on Monday, when the House was to pass the bill, the decision to stand it down for further amendments after it had scaled the second reading almost made it impossible for its passage. The bill was eventually passed around 4:30pm same day.

OGUN

By James Ogunnaike Abeokuta

On Tuesday when members of the Ogun State House of Assembly wanted to pass the law establishing the Ogun State Security Network Agency and Amotekun Corps, the plenary commenced very early in the morning because all the members had to travel overseas for a retreat.
The House passed the bill nineteen days after receiving it from the Executive.

The bill titled: “HB No 35/OG/2020- “A Bill for a law to establish the Ogun State Security Network Agency and Amotekun Corps to Assist in Maintaining Law and Order in the State and Connected Purposes” was passed during a plenary presided over by the Speaker, Olakunle Oluomo, following the presentation of report of the Special Ad-hoc Committee on Security and Strategy by the Majority Leader, Yusuf Sheriff.

Sherif stated that the committee recommended that the bill should pass as approved by the Conference of Speakers of Southwest state legislators. The majority leader moved the motion for the adoption of the report, seconded by Musefiu Lamidi and supported by the whole House after which the bill was later read and adopted Clause- by – Clause by the Committee of the whole House.

Sherif, thereafter moved the motion for the third reading of the bill seconded by Sola Adams.

The Acting Clerk of the House, Deji Adeyemo, read the bill for the third time while the Speaker, Rt Hon. Olakunle Oluomo, ordered that the clean copy of the bill be forwarded to Governor Dapo Abiodun for his assent.

LAGOS

The Lagos State House of Assembly last Tuesday unanimously passed the bill to establish Amotekun. The passage followed the recommendation by the Ad-hoc committee, which presented its reports on the floor of the House The bill, which sought to unify the proposed law that would guide the security outfit jointly established by the South-West governors was passed after the lawmakers read it for the third time.

Prior to the passing of the bill, the State House of Assembly organised a public hearing attended by the residents of the state. At the hearing, the Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa declared that Amotekun had come to stay.

The Speaker said, “I’m sure we all recall the incidents before the establishment of Amotekun, the killings, maiming, kidnapping and the likes. In the wisdom of our governors, they decided on Amotekun. Our race has spoken and we must stand by it but in line with the constitution.”

Vanguard

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