The Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Operation Amotekun is beginning to develop its legal teeth.
Following wide consultations, the Attorneys-General (AGs) of Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo states met in Ibadan all night on Friday to put finishing touches to the legal framework to make the security outfit operational.
It was a full house at the meeting with all the AGs in attendance.
In attendance were Prof Oyewole Oyewo (Oyo), Mr. Oluwafemi Akande (Osun), Mr. Olawale Fapohunda (Ekiti), Mr. Adekola Olawole (Ondo), Mr. Akingbolahan Adeniran (Ogun) and Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo (Lagos) who was represented by the Director of Civil Litigation, Mr. S. A. Quadri.
Also there were officials of the Southwest regional think tank, Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission, led by the Director General, Mr. Seye Oyeleye.
The governors of the six states are expected to meet in Ibadan on Thursday to ratify the decisions of their chief legal officers preparatory to action by each state executive council and then the state assemblies.
According to the details of the agreed framework, each of the Southwest states will have its own legislation and its own security network operatives to be known as Amotekun Corps.
The meeting which started around 7pm lasted about three hours behind closed doors at Davies Hotel, Bodija, Ibadan.
Addressing journalists at the end of the meeting, Oyewo dismissed suggestions that the meeting was shifted from last Thursday to Friday for political reasons.
“Logistics and the challenges of the office of Attorneys-General in the various Southwest states necessitated the change in the meeting day,” he said.
He said that the bill would be sent to the various state assemblies after verification by each state Executive Council.
He said the operational details and structural procedures will be the same across the six states to allow for easy collaboration.
He said: “The meeting of the Attorneys-General of the six Southwest states just concluded and we deliberated on the plan to evolve a collaborative security network/agency in the Southwest.
“We have been able to come up with a legal framework to back up such establishment of security network in each of the states.
“So each of the states will have its own legislation and its own security network corps that will bear the name Amotekun Corps.
“There will be a standard operational procedure that will also be in common and there will be an avenue for collaboration between the states to work together.
“It must be stated that the security network will be working in collaboration, and as a complementary network, with the police and the security agencies and armed forces.
“We will be depending on our local people because of local intelligence. You can say it is community policing, vigilance but this security system under the name of Amotekun Corps has come to stay.
“The draft bills will proceed to the state houses of assembly of each of the states and will be signed into law by the governors of each state. That is where we are now.
“Today is Friday (meeting day). By next week, it will go to the state houses of assembly after it has passed through the Excos of each of the states.”
Asked why the meeting was shifted from Thursday to Friday, Oyewo said: “It was due to logistical challenges. Each of us has his primary assignments. As you are aware, each of us in our states is facing one issue or another. It is Okada issue in Lagos, local government issue in Oyo and the likes.
“These challenges tend to affect the schedule of the offices of the Attorneys-General. So, basically, those challenges meant that we had to push back, deal with primary assignments and so, today (Friday) we were able to meet and conclude. So there were no political reasons involved.
“We have all the Attorneys- General here (Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti and Ondo) and those that are not here are represented. All the states in the Southwest are represented. All the states are here.”
On whether Amotekun operatives would bear arms, he said: “Yes, of course. The carrying of arms is legislated by law and the Amotekun outfit will comply with all the laws of the land.
“We have an operational manual that will also be passed as part of the legal framework for each of the states.
“We just want to allay the fears of anybody that this is just part of the ways to impact the security architecture in Nigeria, to protect lives and properties.
“We have been emphasising Section 14 of the Constitution which imposes a duty, a primary duty, on the federal, state and local governments to secure lives and properties and that is exactly what the states here present are doing.”
Asked if the AGs would write to officially inform the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, on the new development, Oyewole said: “we run a federal system. As long as laws are passed within the competence of our legislation, we don’t need the permission, authority or even the counsel of anybody other than the operators set under the constitution.
“The law is to establish a security network with Amotekun Corps and that is what will be presented to the state houses of assembly and that will probably be passed into law.”