Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) has called on the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, (SAN) to apologise to Nigerians for misleading them on the legal status of the South-west security outfit, Amotekun.
Malami had declared the outfit as illegal and unconstitutional on the grounds that Defence is an item in the exclusive legislative list.
He also said it is illegal for states governments, either singly or jointly to set up any security outfit under the current democratic dispensation.
In a statement issued last night, Falana described as unwarranted the attack on him by the AGF, saying it was without any justification.
The SAN said the belated volte-face of the Malami on Amotekun is a welcome development.
Falana, who himself had called on South-west governors to enact a laws to back the security outfit, said his position on the Amotekun debate is not based on sentiments but on the relevant provisions of the Constitution and decided cases of our courts.
He said he was not surprised that the federal government was initially opposed to Amotekun.
Falana added that like Amotekun, the Sharia State Police called ‘Hisbah’ was ferociously attacked by the federal government.
“Even though Hisbah was established by the Kano State Hisbah Law No 4 of 2003 the federal government said it was illegal. In fact, in a letter addressed to the Kano State government, President Olusegun Obasanjo expressed concern over the constitutionality of Hisbah.
Falana noted that the President later sent a fact-finding delegation to Kano on the matter. He added that based on the antagonistic posture of the federal government, the Nigeria Police Force took steps to outlaw the Hisbah.
“Apart from declaring the Hisbah illegal and unconstitutional, the police arrested the commander-general of Hisbah and his deputy in Kano and took them to Abuja where they were detained.
“When the harassment of the Hisbah by the police continued unabated the Kano State government approached the Supreme Court to test the constitutional validity of the Hisbah Law.
“Curiously, the Supreme Court struck out the suit for want of jurisdiction on the grounds that there was no dispute between the federal government and the Kano State Government on the existence and operation of Hisbah.”
According to the human rights lawyer, “even though the suit was struck out on technical grounds, the police stopped further harassment of the Hisbah. Since then other state governments have set up similar security outfits to enforce Sharia Law or protect the general public from kidnapping, armed robbery and other violent crimes.”
Falana said he called on the South-west state governments to enact the necessary laws to back the establishment of Amotekun in order to institutionalise it with belief that it has come to stay.
“It is indisputable that the six states in the South-west zone have no joint parliament. Hence, I have called on each state House of Assembly to enact a law for the establishment of Amotekun.
“However, since the six states have been grouped together and recognised as the “South-west zone” by the Federal Character Commission Act (Cap F7) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, they are not precluded from collaborating in securing the life and property of every person living or visiting the region. After all, the federal government has never challenged the legality of the Odua Investment Company Limited, the economic union of the six states in the South-west zone.”