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South-West Governors Urged To Prioritise Human Rights In Establishment Of Amotekun

Citizen’s Gavel, a non-governmental organisation working for better and faster justice delivery, human rights promotion, and transparency and accountability in the justice system, has commended South-West governors on the establishment of Amotekun while making a strong case for the respect of human rights.

The group held that for Amotekun to succeed as a community security intervention, its foundational laws, concepts, principles, policies and regulations must be totally imbued with adequate human rights provisions.

Citizens’ Gavel lamented that there exists inadequacy in human rights standards in the present security architecture of Nigeria, adding that it would be of greater damage for Amotekun to evolve and only contribute to the terrible human violations prevalent in the sector.

Nelson Olanipekun, Team Lead, Citizens’ Gavel, recommended that for the Amotekun Bill to forestall human rights abuse and promote accountability of operatives, it must provide for punishments and other disciplinary measures that can be adopted whenever there is a violation of human rights provisions.

He also added that pursuant to Section 35 of the Bill, which says that a 30-day pre-action notice must be issued before the outfit can be sued, we posit that this is contrary to international best practices.

“It is wrong and unacceptable to allow the outfit 30 days to pursue any form of infraction especially when it involves human rights violations.

“We however, recommend that the Section is redrafted to that before a person can institute an action against the outfit, he must lodge a complaint before the complaint Board to seek redress. 

“Section 34 precludes members of Amotekun Corps from being sued which is contrary to the rights of every citizen to demand accountability from perpetrators.

“This means the outfit will be vicariously liable for every action or inactions of its members.”

He questioned that the law guiding the establishment of the security outfit does not specifically provide for offenses or infractions that Amotekun Corps can be held liable for.

He added, “This appears to mean that Amotekun members have powers to engage in all methods to achieve their mandate, which is a potential bomb waiting to explode.”

He also said that Section 29 of the Bill provides for powers to arrest suspects and hand such over to the police.

He recommended that “such provisions should also include that wherever there is sufficient evidence to prosecute the suspect, the outfit should have the power to send the matter directly to the Director of Public Prosecution for prosecution, and where further investigation is required, the outfit can send the matter to any security agency enacted by an Act.

“This will help Amotekun unit interact with specialised security sectors where necessary.”

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