Midwest shield: Another Amotekun for Edo / Delta in the works
The frustrating failure of Nigeria’s security architecture and response to the wanton destruction of life and property by suspected Fulani herdsmen in the Niger Delta has thrown up Midwest Shield, a security network by a group, known as the Midwest Movement.
To the group, the Amotekun concept is a relief in their quest for a home-grown security arrangement for their people, just like the community policing policy, being promoted by the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu. Midwest Movement is poised to ensure that the people of the old Midwest Region, comprising Edo and Delta States, are shielded from intruders, who come only to destroy, kill, main, rob and rape their people.
Their resolve is that, in a Nigeria where insecurity has become second nature, only the people of Midwest can protect the Midwest. This heightened quest is a development that has the nod of constitutional lawyers, human rights Activists and other stakeholders, who insist that the process leading to the decentralisation of policing, in line with international best practices is long overdue, for a federating state like Nigeria.
To walk their talk, the group, led by Dr. Don Pedro Obaseki, has
constituted various committees headed by prominent sons and daughters from the region to work out modalities that will not conflict with constitutional provisions. Though their modus operandi is still sketchy, what is working for them is their resolve against impunity and lack of regards for rules of engagements in the federal system.
Speaking with The Guardian on the implications of such an action, a human rights lawyer and Executive Director, Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER), Barr. Frank Tietie, said: “The state of affairs in the country’s security is abysmal. There is clear operational failure on the part of the Nigerian security agencies to provide a safe and secure environment for Nigerians. Before now, we thought insecurity was restricted to the Northeast, owing to the ongoing organised insurgency by Boko Haram.
“However, the recent nationwide menace of marauding herdsmen has further worsened the state of insecurity facing Nigerians. Only recently, people were brazenly killed in Uwheru, Delta State, by these herdsmen, who are known to have wreaked havoc and caused needless death of innocent Nigerians whenever and wherever they choose to invade.
“The growing dimension of high profile kidnappings has added another dreadful scenario to the problem facing Nigerians. Unfortunately and clearly, the Nigerian security forces appear to be overwhelmed, leaving majority of Nigerians at the mercy of bandits, terrorists and killer herdsmen.
“In the circumstances, no reasonable group of people, like the people of the Midwest of Nigeria, who are bound together by the strong affinity of history, culture and language, will fold their arms and allow the failure of the Nigerian State to rob them of the right to peace, development and safety.
“Commendations must continue to go the Southwest governors for fashioning out their homegrown security network, Amotekun. That is the responsible way to go. In a situation where the elected leaders of the two states comprising the Midwest, fail to be responsive like the Southwest governors against the present threat to the peace and safety of Midwest people, the people will organise their own security network under the provisions of international law, regarding the rights of a people to self-determination.”
He was confident that with the right foundation and framework, the Midwest people are capable of defending themselves against terrorists and criminal invaders, as well as organise a safe and secure society, where public order and the right to life are guaranteed at all times.”
A retired officer in the United States Army, who hails from Delta State, Kingsley Dike, while expressing sadness over the unfolding saga noted: “I saw a report in The Guardian about the attack on a community in Ndokwa recently. We have an existential threat with the Hausa-Fulani herdsmen menace. Indeed, posterity will remember Dr. Obaseki for this.”
Dike, who served as a military intelligence analyst in Germany, South Korea and several duty stations across the United States, including two combatant tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, said: “We must not allow a band of Hausa-Fulani herdsmen to hold our people hostage, burn our towns and villages, rape our women and children, and generally terrorise and kill our people. We must resist and protect our communities, our homes, farmlands and our common inheritance- our culture and way of life.”
Prof. Edoba Omoregie, a professor of comparative constitutional law and federal governance, in his reaction, titled, ‘Tackling insecurity in Nigeria: State role inevitable,’ declared: “I believe the current security
challenges across the nation are a culmination of years of wrongful approach to constabulary service delivery in Nigeria. Our country is a federation.
“Unfortunately, ours is the only federation with a single, centrally commanded police system. Even in countries, which operate the unitary system, policing is largely decentralised in terms of the command system.
In such countries, the central government only provides fiscal support to provincial police organisations, and probably set guidelines for police operations; not to determine day-to-day operational procedures, and
deployment of police personnel.”
Omoregie, who is on national assignment from the Faculty of Law, University of Benin, as head of Legislative Support Services Department at NILDS, the think tank organ of the National Assembly, is concerned that Nigeria’s policing system has remained an anathema.
He said: “As for most federal countries, the police system is multi-level in nature, with the federal, state and local authorities, each having separate police organisations that are virtually independent of one another, yet operating in a complementary and collaborative manner; including sharing information on operational matters and procedures.
“I believe this is how policing should also be driven in Nigeria: from bottom-up and top-down, depending on the circumstances. It should not be in a static, centralised manner. Therefore, I fully support any effort at involving the states, either as individual states or as a collective, to complement and collaborate with the Federal Government in the overall effort to protect life and property.
“Initiatives, such as the Midwest Security Network and Amotekun, among others, being introduced by various state governments are welcome developments, which should elicit the support of federal
authorities and every Nigerian.
“Actually, I think there has been a complete misunderstanding of what the Constitution provides, in terms of the policing system, on the one hand, and maintenance and securing of public safety and public order, on the other. I think the Constitution envisages that both the Federal Government and the state governments should play roles in policing and public safety and public order, not as master/servant, but as partners.
“A community reading of sections 11(1), (2), 214, 215, 216 and item 45 of the Exclusive Legislative List of the 1999 Constitution will demonstrate that the complete exclusive control of policing, and maintenance of public safety and public order over the years by the Federal Government alone is a huge mistake. This huge gap is what is now manifesting as pervasive insecurity in Nigeria, as the police system/constabulary operations have been very weak and inadequate.
I think some states’ decision to have security networks, either jointly or as stand-alone outfits, should be encouraged by the Federal Government, while others should be advised to take a cue. I am happy the Inspector General of Police has begun the process of engaging state governments in this.”
On his part, Dr. Obaseki gave it to the Southwest for leading the way,
saying, “Amotekun is a monumental success. Maybe, it is the singularly most endearing contribution of the Yoruba to the Nigeria nation (positively or otherwise). Anything short of the Southwest idea is cynical pessimism.
“Amotekun is not a concept, but a phenomenal express by any group to activate self-defence; with over 150 branded vehicles, corps members recruited, Draft Bill submitted to some Houses of Assembly, massive support by critical non-state actors, including Senator Ahmed Tinubu, who never said he opposed it, and Midwest Movement and other regional peeps crafting, launching or hoping to launch similar concepts and ventures, and all these within five or six weeks.”
Afusat Mustapha, the Vice President, Global Talent Enablement for
Hexisquadrant, a member of the movement, who resides and works in London, is on the same page with Obaseki.
She said: “The security situation in Nigeria has become a major crisis. It is imperative, therefore, that our government takes a more comprehensive approach, including promoting grassroots peace and security efforts, to resolve the disturbing trend.
“The Midwest Movement’s proposal to establish a community policing effort is a welcome development in the right direction. It will not only support the mainstream security agencies across Delta and Edo States, but will also foster collaboration at every level of society on this journey to restoring peace and security in the Midwest region in particular and Nigeria as a whole.”
A very senior member of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said: “What could have stopped the herdsmen’s invasion in the state was a declared state policy, after the killing of the Ubulu-Uku monarch, in Aniocha South, His Royal Majesty, Akaeze Edward Ofulue III by herdsmen and dumped by a stump in Mbiri Forest on January 5, 2016, after demanding a hefty N100m.
“But the despicable, abominable and detestable incident went scot-free and since then, they have activated a free-mode with rampaging stride across the state.
“With that crime sailing through without a single arrest and prosecution to serve as deterrent, these criminal elements continued a free reign of terror that has been unleashed on the people of the state with impunity.
“Meanwhile, a bill has been presented by a group of prominent Deltans to end open grazing and a further ban on commercial motorcyclists, popularly known as Okada, most of whom are suspected members of the terror gang that specialises on intelligence gathering for the marauding herdsmen. Very soon, the State House of Assembly will receive such bills to commence work on.”