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Southwest governors mum as FG declares Amotekun illegal

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami
The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, yesterday declared the recently launched southwest security outfit, codenamed “Amotekun”, illegal.

The AGF, in a statement by his spokesman, Umar Gwandu, described Amotekun as contrary to the constitution of Nigeria.

He said 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.

He said if his office had been consulted, it would have given the “proper information and guidance to ensure that Nigeria’s defence and corporate entity are preserved at all times.”

He noted that Nigeria is a sovereign entity governed by laws meant to sustain its corporate existence as a constitutional democracy.

Malami said: “It is against this 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 Government of Nigeria. No other authority at the state level, whether the executive or legislature, has the legal authority over defence.

“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, the Navy and Air Force, including the Police and other numerous paramilitary organizations, for the purpose of the defence of Nigeria.”

The chairman of the Southwest Governors Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, yesterday, through his Senior Special Assistant on Security, Jimoh Dojumo, told Daily Trust that it would be too quick to react to the declaration by the Federal Government.

Similarly, Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, yesterday at a press dinner with the media in the state, declined comment on the Federal Government’s opposition to Amotekun.

He said the southwest governors would review the issue very soon.

He said: “I don’t have an answer to this individually because I’ve not been adequately briefed on the new stand. I’ve just heard of that from you (newsmen) now. I’ll try to find out the position of the governors of the southwest states. You know I do not speak for the governors. If what you’re saying is true, there’ll be an appropriate reaction to it.”

Earlier on Saturday, Governor Fayemi, who is also the chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, had, in an interview with Daily Trust, said the establishment of Amotekun was not strange to the country.

Fayemi said: “Look, there’s nothing we’re doing that has not been done. On Friday, Governor Babagana Zulum, it’s in your paper, was handing over vehicles to military, police, and Civilian Joint Task Force. Please, what is civilian JTF? I’m sure you know what Civilian JTF means. Why is Civilian JTF very relevant in the northeast? They know the terrain. They know the culture. They know the people. They’ve better intelligence than even the security agencies. This is because those responsible for this problem, they live among them.

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