Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has differed with the Attorney
General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), on the legality of
the southwestern states’ joint security outfit, code-named ‘Amotekun’.
Barely a week after the five South-West governors jointly inaugurated Amotekun for the security of the zone, the AGF, on Tuesday, issued a statement, declared the security out illegal and unconstitutional.
Falana spoke in Lagos on Wednesday at the 16th Annual Gani Fawehinmi Lecture, with the theme, “Federalism and the Judiciary in Nigeria”.
Falana, who was the programme moderator, described Malami’s position on Amotekun as discriminatory, noting that northern states were operating similar security outfits such as Hisbah and the Civilian Joint Task Force.
Falana said, “In the North-East region, particularly Yobe and Borno, there is a civilian JTF, well-armed; and sometimes when the soldiers are afraid they ask the civilian JTF to go and confront Boko Haram.
“In Kano and Sokoto, you have Hisbah. Three weeks ago, Hisbah in Zamfara arrested a policeman; they said the policeman was caught in a hotel with three women and they said that was an abomination.
“The point I’m making is that the Nigerian state has collapsed; we are deceiving ourselves. What the (South-West) governors are doing is not more than the Neighbourhood Watch in Lagos. The only prohibition against any kind of group is in Section 227 of the Constitution – Nobody shall set up a military wing for political reasons.”
Falana said if an individual could apply for a licence to bear arms, he saw no reason why a state governor could not apply for firearms for local security arrangements.
He added, “You can go to Abuja today, as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and apply to the IG for a licence to bear arms; he will give you. And I have asked the Governors of Lagos State since 1999, ‘Please, if I can ask for a gun to protect my family and myself, why can’t you ask for 10,000 licences for young men and women to protect 20 million people?’ We have to go back to court.”