Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka has condemned in strong terms the declaration of Amotekun as an illegal move by the Federal Government.
While insisting that the establishment of southwestern security outfit is legal, he urged the Southwest governors to defy the central government even as he observed that the Amotekun was borne out of criminal activities, dating back to 2012.
“Whether they like or not, Amotekun has come to stay, because it is a creation of the people and you cannot deny a people their fundamental right to protect themselves since government has failed to provide such protection,” Prof Soyinka stated while addressing the media in Lagos on the statement credited to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, declaring the security organisation by the South-west states as illegal.
Soyinka warned President Muhammadu Buhari over actions that would lead the country to the point of irreversible division, stating that the current security concerns has given birth to the organisation in the country. He decried numerous killings of people in the villages across the southwest.
“I refuse to believe that any serious government will condemn the right of people trying to protect themselves. And now some people who have been sleeping all this time and watching citizens killed, farmers sent away from their land are waking up and telling us this initiative is illegal and unconstitutional. They should go back to sleep.
“This country is sitting on a keg of gun powder implanted by inequality in administration of justice. If President Buhari takes a wrong action on this matter, he will wake up to find that he is the force that tore the country apart. He should stop making excuses,” he said.
Soyinka urged the proponents of Amotekun to defy the Attorney General and go ahead with their operation, challenging the AGF to go to court if he has any objection.
His opinion was maintained by a former Inspector of Police and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Solomon Asemota who advised the attorneys general of the affected states to take the matter to court.
Citing hunger and poverty as other factors that give rise to criminal tendencies, Soyinka asked the governors to go beyond establishing the security outfit and create opportunities for job creation. He said: “Amotekun should not be the only solution. There has to be social action. That is what I am telling the governors that they should move from Amotekun to Arosikun (meaning they should provide food for the people). We must think of ways to feed our people. Hunger is real. Poverty is real and reaching a critical mass. We should start thinking of both Amotekun and Arosikun.”
Tracing the history of the Federal Roads Safety Corps, which he was the pioneer Chairman, Soyinka said when he was tired of untimely deaths of his students and colleagues at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), he wrote a proposal to the then Military Governor of Oyo State, but there were similar suggestions already. This led to the establishment of the FRSC.
“I have always believed passionately in self-policing. If it were possible to eliminate any kind of formal policing, I am for it. My preference is always, as much as possible, for community policing,” he said.
He explained further: “This is to show how effective a determined community force can be. Policing the road is not the same thing as going into the forest to confront kidnappers, herdsmen and terrorists, but the policy remains identical.”
On his part, Asemota, who was a policeman at the independence of Nigeria, but now a senior lawyer, raised concern over the fact that Nigeria is operating both the Common Law and the Sharia Law.
He said: “The Attorney General is Sharia compliant. I wrote a 19-page letter to him, which I also made available to the Vice President, highlighting some of these things. But he never acknowledged it. I was hoping members of the National Assembly would ask the question when he appeared before them, but they confirmed his appointment.
“There is a conflict in Nigeria between those who believe in democracy and those who decide to use the tenets of their religion to achieve their aim.
Nigeria is one country with two systems. But I am of the view that the Western states are in order. Either party in this dispute can go do court. Can anyone say the banks do not have a right to hire security guards or that you can’t hire a night watchman to protect your home.”