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Alarming number of regional security outfits

Since the launch of the Operation Amotekun by South-west governors, the clamour for regional and state security outfits have been on the rise, with states insisting it is the long sought response to the issues of insecurity across the country.

The South-west governors had in January 2020 unveiled a Western Nigeria Security Network code-named, Operation Amotekun, to help enhance the safety of the region against kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery and related crimes.

The formation of Amotekun sparked a lot of controversy with many questioning the constitutionality of the outfit.

Contrary to belief that policing and security is the exclusive preserve of the Federal Government, there are provisions within the Constitution and other laws that could enable regional security outfits to operate lawfully in Nigeria.

Though Sections 214 and 215 of the 1999 Constitution mandate the police as the agency responsible for the protection of lives and property, this does not stop governors from taking further measures in protecting citizens as enshrined in section 14 (2) (b) of the constitution.Alarming number of regional security outfitsSince the launch of the Operation Amotekun by South-west governors, the clamour for regional and state security outfits have been on the rise, with states insisting it is the long sought response to the issues of insecurity across the country.The South-west governors had in January 2020 unveiled a Western Nigeria Security Network code-named, Operation Amotekun, to help enhance the safety of the region against kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery and related crimes.The formation of Amotekun sparked a lot of controversy with many questioning the constitutionality of the outfit.Contrary to belief that policing and security is the exclusive preserve of the Federal Government, there are provisions within the Constitution and other laws that could enable regional security outfits to operate lawfully in Nigeria.Though Sections 214 and 215 of the 1999 Constitution mandate the police as the agency responsible for the protection of lives and property, this does not stop governors from taking further measures in protecting citizens as enshrined in section 14 (2) (b) of the constitution.Section 20 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act also allows private citizens to arrest criminals and handover to the police for investigation and prosecution. Under this context, operatives of security outfits can arrest and hand over to the police for proper action.The devolution of powers for the establishment of a regional security outfit is therefore inherent within the constitution.However, in spite of its legality or otherwise, the magnitude of security challenges across the country has given impetus to the call for establishment of regional security outfits.From the farmer herder clashes in the North Central, to the wanton kidnapping by bandits in the North West, to the prolonged insurgents’ crisis in the North East region, and the latest attacks by unknown gunmen in the East, the establishment of state or regional security network seem to be an obvious alternative.Little wonder other regions are also coming up with their versions of localised security outfits. For instance, the Southeast governors in April established the Ebube Agu initiative.Also in the North, the Coalition of Northern Group, CNG, announced the establishment of a security outfit known as “Shege-Ka-Fasa” to tackle the security challenges facing the North.Announcing the establishment of the outfit at the time in Kaduna, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, spokesman of the group, said the CNG had written to the Northern States Governors Forum to support the group.Governors of the Middle Belt region recently considered the Amotekun example to address the herders/farmers clash, armed banditry and other security challenges in the region. Also, the South-south Governors Forum has pledged to set up a regional security outfit and revive the Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross Rivers, Edo and Delta states, BRACED, Commission to tackle developmental issues.In the North-west region that has been rampaged by armed banditry, there have been calls by security experts for a regional security structure that will complement the efforts of formal security operatives in addressing the menace of banditry in the area.Creating security outfit also seems to be a fad among interest groups. The Fulani herders, Miyetti Allah and Southeast separatist group, IPOB, have at different times, claim to set up their own security outfits.There have been series of debates over the establishment of regional security outfits in Nigeria in response to the increasing need for citizens in their regions to protect their farmlands and livestock, and to curb the menace of unknown gunmen, banditry, cultism, terrorism, among others.As security challenges in the country worsen, federal and state governments seem to be seeking new solutions to the new dynamics of insecurity nationwide.While the establishment of regional security outfit is a welcome development, there is also the need for proper structure to avoid them from being used by governors to oppress perceived enemies.The regional security outfits should have an organisational structure that can be held accountable to state assembly laws establishing them. That way, issues of corruption and embezzlement will be checked.The welfare of the officers themselves should be adequately taken care of to avoid them becoming willing tools in the hands of the highest bidder. Therefore, a sustainable pay package, training, deployment of modern equipment and technology, synergy with federal government security organisations, must be achieved in order to maintain the process.Nigeria has seen a proliferation of quasi-security organisations with different state governments’ establishing. The existing organisations should either be tactfully disarmed, demobilised and reintegrated back to society or they should be incorporated into the new regional security structure.States should also factor in sources of funding for the security organisation as lack of adequate funds will inhibit their performance.Transparency International states that Nigeria spends an estimate of N241.2billion annually on security votes. The amount is 12 times the UK counterterrorism support promised between 2016 to 2020 at N19.2 billion and 9 times the US security assistance to Nigeria since 2012. Such unaccounted security votes can be channelled towards funding the regional security organisations.The federal security agencies need to cooperate with the regional outfits for dependable results, as it is a matter of expediency that the country is returned on the path of peace and tranquility.

Section 20 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act also allows private citizens to arrest criminals and handover to the police for investigation and prosecution. Under this context, operatives of security outfits can arrest and hand over to the police for proper action.

The devolution of powers for the establishment of a regional security outfit is therefore inherent within the constitution.

However, in spite of its legality or otherwise, the magnitude of security challenges across the country has given impetus to the call for establishment of regional security outfits.

From the farmer herder clashes in the North Central, to the wanton kidnapping by bandits in the North West, to the prolonged insurgents’ crisis in the North East region, and the latest attacks by unknown gunmen in the East, the establishment of state or regional security network seem to be an obvious alternative.

Little wonder other regions are also coming up with their versions of localised security outfits. For instance, the Southeast governors in April established the Ebube Agu initiative.

Also in the North, the Coalition of Northern Group, CNG, announced the establishment of a security outfit known as “Shege-Ka-Fasa” to tackle the security challenges facing the North.

Announcing the establishment of the outfit at the time in Kaduna, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, spokesman of the group, said the CNG had written to the Northern States Governors Forum to support the group.

Governors of the Middle Belt region recently considered the Amotekun example to address the herders/farmers clash, armed banditry and other security challenges in the region.

Also, the South-south Governors Forum has pledged to set up a regional security outfit and revive the Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross Rivers, Edo and Delta states, BRACED, Commission to tackle developmental issues.

In the North-west region that has been rampaged by armed banditry, there have been calls by security experts for a regional security structure that will complement the efforts of formal security operatives in addressing the menace of banditry in the area.

Creating security outfit also seems to be a fad among interest groups. The Fulani herders, Miyetti Allah and Southeast separatist group, IPOB, have at different times, claim to set up their own security outfits.

There have been series of debates over the establishment of regional security outfits in Nigeria in response to the increasing need for citizens in their regions to protect their farmlands and livestock, and to curb the menace of unknown gunmen, banditry, cultism, terrorism, among others.

As security challenges in the country worsen, federal and state governments seem to be seeking new solutions to the new dynamics of insecurity nationwide.

While the establishment of regional security outfit is a welcome development, there is also the need for proper structure to avoid them from being used by governors to oppress perceived enemies.

The regional security outfits should have an organisational structure that can be held accountable to state assembly laws establishing them. That way, issues of corruption and embezzlement will be checked.

The welfare of the officers themselves should be adequately taken care of to avoid them becoming willing tools in the hands of the highest bidder. Therefore, a sustainable pay package, training, deployment of modern equipment and technology, synergy with federal government security organisations, must be achieved in order to maintain the process.

Nigeria has seen a proliferation of quasi-security organisations with different state governments’ establishing. The existing organisations should either be tactfully disarmed, demobilised and reintegrated back to society or they should be incorporated into the new regional security structure.

States should also factor in sources of funding for the security organisation as lack of adequate funds will inhibit their performance.

Transparency International states that Nigeria spends an estimate of N241.2billion annually on security votes. The amount is 12 times the UK counterterrorism support promised between 2016 to 2020 at N19.2 billion and 9 times the US security assistance to Nigeria since 2012. Such unaccounted security votes can be channelled towards funding the regional security organisations.

The federal security agencies need to cooperate with the regional outfits for dependable results, as it is a matter of expediency that the country is returned on the path of peace and tranquility.

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