Amotekun operatives will have powers to arrest criminals, says Ekiti State Attorney-General

Lagos, Ogun and Ekiti states are leading the drafting of model bills on the  South-West security outfit, Operation Amotekun.

The Ekiti State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Wale Fapohunda, who gave this indication in an interview with one of our correspondents on Sunday, also said operatives of Amotekun, would have the power to arrest suspected criminals.

Fapohunda said this just as indications emerged on Sunday that the South-West attorneys general would on February 6 meet to harmonise  positions of different states on the proposed Operation Amotekun bills.

The Federal Government and the South-West governors had,  at a meeting in Abuja on Thursday, resolved their differences on Operation Amotekun, which was launched in Ibadan on January 9 to address killings and kidnapping in the zone.

The meeting, which was presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, was attended by the South-West governors and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, who declared Operation Amotekun illegal on January 14.

At the meeting, both sides agreed that each of the South-West states should make a law to back Operation Amotekun.

As a follow-up to the agreement reached in Abuja, the attorneys general of the South-West states met in Ibadan on Thursday to begin the process of making Amotekun laws in their states.

Shedding light on the proposed Amotekun bill, Fapohunda, in the interview stated, “We ultimately want to create a security outfit that is accountable and responsible to the people of each of the states involved so that they can have faith in the outfit. We have sights on a law that has focus on the people’s lives.

“The legal framework being drafted by the attorneys general will contain the mandate of Amotekun. The mandate is very crucial and that will be clearly stated; then the administrative structure, particularly as it relates to the issue of accountability and their power particularly as it relates to that of arrest.

“Power of arrest is not new. All our non-conventional forces have the power of arrest. What is important is that when they arrest, what happens to those that they arrest? The way Amotekun will work is that if they see a crime that is being committed, they will have to inform the national security forces like the police, where that is not possible, they can arrest and hand over such a person to the security agencies.”

Fapohunda, who said Amotekun across the different state commands would be working in collaboration, said the law would also spell out the relations among Amotekun  in the six South-West states.

He stated, “There is going to be clear provisions on how they are all going to cooperate. The issue of funding is also crucial; where we are going to be getting money from and how the state governments should be funding them. Those are some of the issues that will be contained in the proposed bill.

“The relationship with the conventional security agencies is an important component. The approach that we are taking is that of community policing. The whole concept is going to fit within the framework of community policing. That is one of the areas that the governors agreed with the IG.”

Fapohunda said there would still be consultation among the South-West attorneys general with a view to producing virtually similar laws in the states.

He said, “We are working on it, but don’t forget that we are going to consult. Our own version will be ready, we are now going to look at other versions and see whether we can be inspired by what other versions have.

“Ultimately, it is about having a law that, when you see the Ekiti State Amotekun law, you look at the Oyo State Amotekun law, you see that there will be similarities. We are not warming up to enact a law on our own. We just want to make sure that our is ready and when others are ready, we are all working within a limited time frame, then the South-West AGs attorney-general will meet again and review where we are.

“In fact, what we have actually as a proposal for the meeting is that Lagos, Ogun and Ekiti are the ones that are leading the drafting of the Amotekun model laws. What we have been doing since Thursday is just to get our own ready, putting together our thoughts on what we want to see in the law given the Ekiti State experience.”

Fapohunda said that the model bill would be the template that the six member states would fashion their laws after, taking into consideration the peculiarities of individual states.

He said, “What we want to do is to look at the best of all the bills and pick a template that we can all adopt. We will adopt one that is common to all of us. Individual states have their own issues, so we will have a model law that can serve as pilot, that will meet the minimum standard of effectiveness in response to citizens’ concern and of course respect for citizens’ right.

“Once we have that minimum standard, the law will be unique, but will be responsive to the peculiarities of each state. The agenda is that the law must respond to the concerns of crime, safety and security and at the same time meeting respect for citizens’ rights.

“When we agree on the template, the six states will have harmonised law, but with variations in respect to circumstances of the members,” the attorney general said.

On his part, the Chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum and Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, said Operation Amotekun would be based on the community policing arrangement

The governor, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Security Matter, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo, said, “As it is now, we are good to go. Any moment from now, the operation will start , we are commencing our recruitment any moment from now  in line with the government position.

“We have involved the state House of Assembly. The attorney general is also involved. We have concluded on that everything will be in line with the community policing arrangement.” – Punch.

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