Politics of Security
Political scientists and constitutional lawyers the globe over, agreed that the primary purpose of governance is the security and welfare of the people. The 1999 constitution, the fundamental law that underpins the current dispensation is also very emphatic on the importance of security and welfare of the people. The president is also the commander- in -chief of the Nigerian armed forces and by implication, the chief security officer of the nation. At the state level, the governors are regarded as chief security officers of the state even though cannot give order to the commissioner of police or any other security operative for that matter. That is the major flaw of our curious brand of federalism. It is not a matter of political conjectures or polemics that the federal government is overwhelmed with the security challenges of the nation. Armed banditry, virus of terrorism, kidnapping and the infamous rampaging herdsmen are the unfortunate trademarks of the nation.
It is against this backdrop, the cloud of controversy surrounding the recent launch of Western Nigeria Security Network otherwise known as Amotekun could be understood and situated. The governors of these states believed in pulling their resources together to tackle the issues of insurgency, the clash between herdsmen and farmers, armed banditry and kidnapping. However, the federal government frowned at the composition of Amotekun and that its activities are illegal within the province of the 1999 constitution.
Speaking on the activities of Amotekun, the Attorney General of the federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami maintained the concept of the security outfit was strange to the 1999 constitution. Said Malami: `The setting up of the paramilitary organization called Amotekun is illegal and runs contrary to the provisions of the Nigerian law. The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) has established the army, navy and air force, including the police and other numerous paramilitary organizations for the purpose of the defence of Nigeria. As a consequence of this, no state government, whether singly or in a group has the legal right and competence to establish any form of organization or agency for the defence of Nigeria or any of its constituent parts`.
While the honourable Minister of Justice is on spot but he missed the woods for the trees. The 1999 constitution recognizes the three arms of government – the executive, the judiciary and the legislature. The Minister belongs to the executive arm of government saddled with the responsibility of implementing the laws and policies of government. He is clearly usurping the functions of the judiciary to interpret and adjudicate. If the Minister is not comfortable with the establishment of the security outfit and believes that it abridges the functions of the executive arm, he should approach the court to test the functionality or otherwise of the security outfit. Ours is a democracy and not monarchy where the king or his surrogate wakes up and makes pronouncement. The statement of the minister is merely blowing the wind.
Furthermore, this is not the first time that state governments are forming security outfits for the protection of their citizens. As you read this piece, Civilian Joint Task force is in operation in the North East battling the Boko Haram insurgency. The Federal Government has even commended the efforts of this security outfit.
Hisbah is an Islamic or state police very effective in the north in enforcing strict Islamic code of conduct. Hisbah is notorious for abusing human rights of people and the question of choice as for the consumption of alcohol. The federal government is dissembling or living in denial of its existence. Hisbah is very visible in Kano State. In September 2019, the Islamic police destroyed 196,400 bottles of beer. According the Hisbah`s Commander General, Sheik Aminu Daurawa, twelve million bottles of beer were destroyed in seven years. Yet this is a state that gets money generated from VAT on alcohol. The federal government should not give us the impression that there are sacred cows that can defecate on the tenets of the 1999 constitution.
The federal government rabid hatred for Amotekun and lovely embrace of Hisbah attacks the very heart of our democracy and unity. If the federal government finds nothing wrong with Hisbah, an Islamic state police and frowns at Amotekun, a regional vigilante group, then the opponents of restructuring are being proved right. This is the greatest argument for state police and political restructuring. The name `Federal Republic of Nigeria` ,remains a misnomer as vestiges of unitary system of government are operational.
Julius Oweh, a journalist, Asaba, Delta State.