By OKUNADE ADEKUNLE
A Lagos Lawmaker, Hon. Setonji David, has backed the governors of Southwest states on the establishment of a regional security network codenamed ‘AMOTEKUN’ as a solution to the insecurity challenge facing the region, saying that it was long overdue.
David, who said this in an interview with journalists on Tuesday at the Assembly Complex in Lagos, stated that the Nigeria 1999 constitution was an aberration to the practice of true federalism.
He added that it is until the constitution is amended inline with the true federal principles that the country’s insecurity challenges could be solved.
David is the lawmaker representing Badagry Constituency 11 at the Lagos State House of Assembly.
The Lawmaker said “I cannot talk about the efficiency now until it starts to function but the idea- Operation Amotekun concept is a fantastic one. I love the idea because policing is a local thing, security is also a local thing, if you want to police an environment it has to be done by the locals. What we have in Nigeria is an aberration, a system whereby a policeman from Bayelsa state will come and be working in Lagos state”
“We have always been clamouring for state police because the constitution we are operating in this country is an abnormal one, the 1999 constitution is not in our interest and can never give us peace in this country.
We are practising federalism like a unitary government. The constitution states that a Governor is the Chief Security Officer of a state, whereas the Commissioner of Police is answerable to someone in Abuja. So, it is not right. This idea (Operation Amotekun)is fantastic and I support it whole heartedly”, said David
Speaking on recruitment of the personnel, the lawmaker opined that the personnel must be those who are knowledgeable of the region and the culture of the people.
“Policing or security is a local thing. For instance, people in Badagry which is my constituency know themselves, so when you get security personnel among them, they would be able to know what is going on there. They can speak the language,they know all the streets, so it is easier for them to police themselves than for you to send somebody from outside to go and police them. I will advise that they recruit people in the locals.
On whether the security agency maybe used for political purposes, the lawmaker stated that it was not an enough excuse to condemn the regional security network.
David added “So that is not an excuse for us not to do what is right,what is right is that they should employ people from the locality they are going to monitor that is what is best for this country”
He emphasized “The Amotekun is the way forward. It is the solution, because we don’t have enough police in the first place,what is the ratio of our population to the police?.
” It is abnormal, so we want more policemen and when they employ more policemen from the local level,they know the nooks and crannies of their area so they can monitor properly, if there is any untoward activity anywhere they would be able to know.
“It is only better that way,so that if you have Fulani group or any form of group whatsoever doing something contrary to the interest of the people in the locality,they will identify those people and bring them to book.
“Policing is about information, it is about giving information to whoever is in charge, so the best thing is for them to allow the local people from the community they are monitoring.
“In other climes they have different kinds of police; they have state police,local government police, federal police and all other forms doing the same thing,only that everybody has its own jurisdiction and the work is done.” David said.
While reacting to the report that some youths from the northern extraction argued against the establishment Amotekun, David stated that the youths displayed an act of ignorance and that they were ill-informed about the necessity of the regional security network.
“That is their problem, anybody can have his own opinion, they are the problem of this country, they are misguided youths. We are talking of state policing, somebody from Sokoto state cannot come and police Lagos likewise somebody from Lagos state cannot come and police Sokoto effectively, it is not a tribal thing, we are talking policing not military”, said David
It would be recalled that Operation Amotekun was lunched in Ibadan, Oyo state, on the 9th of January by the Southwest Governors as a strategy to curb the insecurity facing the Western Nigeria.
At the launching, the Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum and Executive Governor of Ekiti state, Dr Kayode Fayemi, had debunked rumours making the rounds that the security network is a regional police.
He said it is more like a community police, which will complement the efforts of the mainstream security outfits.
Fayemi added that the South west governors were not out to undermine the integrity and sovereignty of Nigeria but were providing the Yoruba people with a “confidence building strategy” to tackle crime and criminality in the region.
“The Western Nigeria Security Network Operation Amotekun is nothing but a community policing response to a problem that our people would like to put an end to. But pending the time that the community policing strategy being put together by the Nigeria Police comes to fruition, it is clearly important that we give our people a confidence boosting strategy.
So if you ask me, Amotekun is nothing but a confidence building strategy for our people in the western zone. When those elements that are going to work in the joint task force with the mainstream security agencies undertake this assignment, they are going to do it with the knowledge of the terrain, language and culture of the community they are going to work”, said Fayemi
“Amotekun is not a duplication neither is it a replacement for the Nigeria Police Force. Amotekun is a complement that gives our people the confidence that they are being looked after by the people they elected into office. We do not want this to create fear in the mind of any one. We are not creating a regional police force. We are not oblivious of the steps we need to follow in forming a State police. We are law abiding citizens of Nigeria. We know that will require a constitutional amendment and we are not there yet”, he said.
While commending the role played by the mainstream security agencies in tackling kidnapping and banditry in the zone, the governor said Amotekun would reduce the burden on the agencies which he described as “overstretched”.
Fayemi who added that the security agencies have embraced the Western Nigeria Security Network urged Nigerians not to give room for fears which may have emanated from the propaganda circulating in the social media about Amotekun.
” We were daily assaulted by the spate of kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery across the length and breadth of the South West. We obviously sought succour in all the right places and the mainstream security tried their best in arresting the security situation. It was in the context of this development that we lost the daughter of our leader in Afenifere, Pa Fasoranti”, said Fayemi