The Federal Government has declared as illegal the security outfit formed by the six states in the South West, saying they failed to seek clarification before forming the organisation.
The government declared this in a statement issued late Tuesday by Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, special assistant to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar 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 Airforce, including the Police and other numerous paramilitary organisations for the purpose of the defence of Nigeria,” the government said.
The government argued that the Federal Republic of Nigeria is a sovereign entity governed by laws meant to sustain its corporate existence as a constitutional democracy. It pointed out that Nigeria is a Federation of states, but with the Federal Government “superintending over matters of national interests”.
The states-Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, and Oyo- formed Amotekun in response to increasing cases of kidnapping and armed robbery that have been recorded in the region.
According to the statement, the division of executive and legislative authority between the Federal and State Governments has been clearly defined by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
“It is against the same background that matters relating to the peace, order and good government of the Federation and in particular, the defence of the country, are enshrined in the Exclusive Legislative List,” it said.
It noted that the Second Schedule in Item 17 deals with defence. “This is a matter that is within the exclusive operational competence of the Federal of Government of Nigeria. No other authority at the state level, whether the executive or legislature has the legal authority over defence,” it said.
Based on this, it said, 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. The government declared that this position was sanctioned by the provision of Item 45 of the Second Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), which authorises the Police and other Federal government security services established by law to maintain law and order.
“The law will take its natural course in relation to excesses associated with organization, administration and participation in “Amotekun” or continuous association with it as an association,” the Federal Government said.
The government noted also that the Office of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice was not consulted on the matter. Had the minister been consulted on the mater, it said, “proper information and guidance would have been offered to ensure that Nigeria’s defence and corporate entity are preserved at all times”.