The Lagos House of Assembly has joined few other states in the South West, which have commenced debate on the bill to legalise the security outfit codenamed Operation Amotekun, as the House took the first and second reading of the bill on Thursday at the plenary session.
As against the move by other states, Lagos Assembly is planning to amend the Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps Agency Law of 2016 to accommodate a section for Amotekun Corps.
To this end, the House has fixed a public hearing for Monday 24th February 2020 in order to take inputs from concerned stakeholders and members of the public on the bill to legalise the outfit.
Clerk of the House, Mr Azeez Sanni had during the plenary, informed the lawmakers that he received a letter from the state’s Commissioner for Justice, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo on Wednesday 19th February 2020, on the amendment of the Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC).
The Speaker, Right Honourable Mudashiru Obasa, however, directed the Clerk to read the Bill entitled: “A House of Assembly Bill No. 5 Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC) Amendment Bill 2020 And for Connected Purposes” for the first and second times.
Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade (Ikorodu 1) explained that the Bill is an executive bill, but that it is predicated on the private member bill that established the LNSC, which he said has been working well.
Agunbiade added that the Bill is incorporating the concept of a more dynamic and more strengthened security platform than what they had in Lagos State.
“It is meant to energise and strengthen the security that we have in Lagos State based on the challenges in the state and in the South West.
“It tries to create a unit out of the LNSC to be referred to as Amotekun Corps to take charge of security in certain areas, such as in the forest, highways and other places to protect us against hoodlums, cattle rustling and others.
“It would have a commander and Amotekun Corps would bear arms with the permission of the police. They will cooperate with other security platforms in Ondo, Oyo, Ogun, Ekiti and Osun States,” he said.
The Majority Leader stressed that LNSC has a clause that will provide for Amotekun.
In his contribution, Hon. Oluyinka Ogundimu, (Agege 2), while lending his voice to the Bill, commended the foresight of the Lagos State House of Assembly on the security of the state.
Ogundimu stated that the law covers wider areas and made internal security a priority.
He called for local content in the bill, adding that they needed people with native intelligence and that whoever would be appointed as the head of the unit should be approved by the House.
Deputy Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Olumuyiwa Jimoh, (Apapa 2) said that there is a problem of nomenclature in the Bill, stating that the Nigerian Police had been existing before Independence and that the people had been talking about their reforms.
“The colonialists formed the Nigerian Police for us in 1930 and we have not made efforts to form our own security force.
“The population of men of the Nigerian Police is small. We should encourage men of Amotekun to be armed and to be able to arrest and prosecute.
“South Africans have their own native police that checkmates other security forces. We can have the military wing of Amotekun in Lagos,” he said.
In his view, Hon. Rotimi Olowo, (Shomolu 1) said that Amotekun started in Lagos with LNSC and that the federal police lacked character as their structure has not helped to suppress crime.
“Security is local and it should be localised. The issue of kidnapping and others give credence to the need for community police.
“They should be allowed to use guns. They can reduce armed robbery attack, kidnapping and others. We should allow more money into the system.
“The recruitment of Amotekun should be localised. They should work in their neighbourhood so that they could apprehend criminals in their areas,” he said.
Hon Tunde Braimoh (Kosofe 2) said that governance is about giving meaning to the yearnings and aspirations of the people, stressing that what the people of the South West wanted now is security.
“People keep talking about Amotekun because that is what they want now. Amotekun emanated from the House with the LNSC, which has now transformed to Amotekun. Section 14 (2B) of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 emphasises security. There are issues in the bill but they would be looked into later,” he said.
After contributions by members present, Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa subsequently committed the Bill to the House Committee on Information, Publicity, Security and Strategy for the public hearing.