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What Makes Amotekun Illegal And Hisbah, Legal? We Review How Kwankwaso, Shekarau Handled Insecurity

The Oasis Reporters

January 16, 2020

The question that should reasonably be asked is how is Amotekun illegal and Hisbah legal?

In the light of what Oyo State governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde said that South West governors violated no constitutional provisions in establishing “Operation Amotekun”,here’s a flashback to the early days of Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso as governor of Kano State when the North Western State suffered immeasurably from constant outbreaks of violence, mainly directed at Christians and Southerners living in Kano. Such that, if there was any hiccup anywhere in the world which concerned any Islamic nation, Kano rioters would take over the city and mete out unprecedented vengeance and death on hapless and defenseless Christians minority citizens..

Kwankwaso had a plan.
He vigorously empowered the Nigerian army by equipping them with patrol vehicles and logistics. So if he heard on the BBC Hausa service at 2, 3 or 4.00am that there was a little problem between America and Afghanistan in Kabul, he’d call the Army brigade commander in Bukavu barracks and Kano citizens would wake up in the wee hours of the morning to find soldiers in all the major locations of Kano on patrol.
That discouraged the merchants of violence in Kano, and Christian lives became safer while Kano became more conducive for business and living.
But this angered a great majority of the alleged owners of the city.

What does Kwankwaso mean ? They asked. Is he saying that Kano people were riot prone ? They were very angry and ran a campaign against a performing governor, calling him arrogant and brash. Kwankwaso was governor in 1999. Four years later, his reelection was truncated. He lost to Ibrahim Shekarau who campaigned on promises to implement Sharia law. The islamists rejoiced. Genuine Muslims were uncomfortable with the political campaigns. But Shekarau won overwhelmingly. The Islamists rejoiced, and soon, riots started booming again. Lives of Christians and non indigenes became unsafe once again.

See how Shekarau purportedly attempted to solve the problem. He set up his own Hisbah police, with about 9,000 men. On Sundays, they’d show up in Church premises in Shagari Quarters, Naibawa etc, purportedly to prevent almajiri hecklers from tormenting Christians at worship, for often, those street children would be hauling stones from hidden distances onto Church rooftops while services were ongoing. That stopped.

A few months later, islamists said they wanted to demonstrate “peacefully” over the killings of Muslims in the middle belt state of Plateau. It was against the backdrop of Muslim Fulani herdsmen pressing in to appropriate land for cattle herding and it led to clashes with sedentary farmers. This has unfortunately persisted till the present time.

The purported demonstration was led by a Commissioner in the Shekarau administration. Despite well meaning advice to Shekarau to disallow it, he defiantly okayed it and even addressed them, saying, “Muslims will no longer keep quiet”. At the end of it, Christians and southerners were killed, some say, over a thousand of them, and buried in mass graves. Their properties were looted and many others, set on fire.

Some of the most despicable massacres occurred in the Sharada Industrial Area of Kano. Those factories had many specialist Christian technicians, engineers etc, working in them. They were completely caught off guard and killed.

Curiously, the headquarters of the Hisbah board and operational offices were in Sharada. But while the two day riots were on, no uniformed Hisbah official was sighted. Do not ask where they had vanished into.

It was a most regrettable period in Kano history, leading to a mass exodus of Christians from the city, and declined attendance in the surviving churches, for many were set on fire.

The riot attracted a visit by then Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo who toured some of the most affected areas.

Oyo State Governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde, on Wednesday declared that the Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Operation Amotekun was established to complement the work of the security agencies and bridge the gaps in the security of the geopolitical zone.

He made this position against the backdrop of the statement credited to the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, in which the Minister claimed the outfit was illegal.

According to Governor Makinde, Operation Amotekun did not in any way violate the Constitution, but rather, it was an intervention to narrow the security gaps in the South-West.

He added that given the centrality of security to governance, the Governors of the South-West designed the Operation to complement the efforts of the Nigerian Police and other security agencies.

He said that the Operation was designed to help in combating insecurity in all the nooks and crannies of the South-West states of Nigeria.

A social media commentator raised concerns about and questioned the role Amotekun would play, which “has not been properly articulated leaving room for grey areas” ( this was before Makinde’s explanation), but at the same time and based on face value, the larger question is whether the role of the Hisbah and its legality has been subjected to and passed the official scrutiny that Amotekun has been subjected to?

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Again without insisting on the legality of its creation, it will amount to double standards if it is declared illegal and no pronouncement has been made on the legality of the Hisbah”.

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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