7th August, 2022
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has advised the South West security outfit, Amotekun, to respect the fundamental human rights of Northern travellers arrested on Tuesday, 2nd August 2022.
MURIC also asked the authorities of Amotekun to observe professional decorum in the matter and to allow the rule of law to prevail.
In addition, the group advised South-West governors to strengthen Amotekun and improve the welfare of its operatives.
MURIC gave the advice in a statement issued on Saturday, 6th August 2022 by its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
The statement reads;
“About 140 Northerners comprising of men, women and children were arrested in Ibadan by the South West security outfit popularly known as Amotekun on Tuesday, 2nd August 2022. Reports reaching us indicate that those arrested are still with the Amotekun in Oyo State, under the commandant, Colonel Olayinka Adeyanju.
“Yet another report in a leading newspaper today, Saturday, 6th August 2022, says 151 travellers coming from Kano, Katsina and Jigawa were also arrested in Ondo State. Among this second group were five women. The commandant of Amotekun in Ondo State, Akogun Adetunji Adeleye, confirmed the arrest.
“While we acknowledge the right of security outfits to ensure the safety of lives and properties in their areas of jurisdiction, we call attention to the need to observe professional decorum in the matter and to allow the rule of law to prevail. The fundamental human rights of all travellers must also be respected.
“For example, it will appear that fundamental rights have been infringed if those arrested in Ibadan, Oyo State, since Tuesday are still in some detention of any kind. Even the police cannot detain a citizen for more than 24 hours.
“Section 23 of the Police Act stipulates that suspects cannot be detained beyond 24 hours after which the person should be charged to court in conformity with the basic constitutional rights of citizens. All arrested Northerners should therefore be granted bail or arraigned in a court of law.
“Besides, the offence committed by these Northerners have not been properly explained. Nobody has caught any weapon with them. The main allegation has been that they moved in groups or large numbers. But if they were travelling in trucks, could they have moved in singles and in twos and threes?
“How can you stop a truck loaded with passengers and accuse them of moving in groups? How else could they have moved? Are we saying trucks should not convey more than one or two passengers? Our security outfits should get their acts together. Is it because those people have no money to board commercial cars and luxurious buses?
“They may be victims of the violence ravaging the North. The fact that women and children are among them shows that they may be innocent Northerners looking for how to make ends meet. They are already in Yorubaland in their hundreds as gate men, motor cyclists (okada riders), shoe-menders, dustbin carriers, etc. They do menial jobs but that is not a crime.
“How many times has Amotekun stopped luxurious buses moving up north or down south from the South East or South South? Security outfits need to be more careful so that they would not be accused of ethnic profiling. Or is that what it really is?
“We remind Amotekun and other security outfits that freedom of movement is enshrined in Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which says inter alia, ‘Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof…’
“Section 42 of the same Constitution also frowns at stereotyping any tribe or religious group and restricting their movement. It says inter alia: ‘A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religion or political opinions are not made subject.
“In addition, Article 13 of the United Nations Charter of Human Rights to which Nigeria is a signatory guarantees right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state and to leave and enter one’s country.
“Nigerians of all ethnicities should therefore be allowed to move freely within the borders of this country without being harassed or intimidated. Only the law breakers should be apprehended and dealt with according to the law of the land. But mere travelling in ‘groups’ is not enough and it is not even an offence. Amotekun should not be too eager to arrest people of certain regions. It is individuals who commit crime, not their tribes.
“It amounts to stigmatisation and intimidation. Such action endangers the safety of Yorubas and other Southerners who often travel up North and do business over there. More importantly, this is the wrong time for Yorubas to stereotype Northerners. An ethnic group which has one of its own seeking the highest position in the country cannot afford to turn hostile towards people of another tribe, least of all people from Asiwaju’s support base. The Yorubas need everyone on board in the Asiwaju project.
“The security of Yorubaland is of paramount importance just as the security of all other parts of the country. This should not be compromised. At the same time, Yorubaland should not become a persecution ground for other tribes so that Yorubas in other places may not be targeted for retaliatory measures.
“We do not support criminality and we want peace everywhere in the country. But our security agents must respect the rule of law as they chase criminals without making innocent people to suffer, without encroaching on Allah-given fundamental rights of any citizen and without focusing on any particular tribe.
“Governments of the South West should strengthen Amotekun in terms of manpower and equipment. Cities are conquered by numbers. Amotekun in the South West needs more men. Their presence should be felt in every corner of Yorubaland.
“There should be at least two Amotekun corp members on every street in every city. If the state governments can do this, bandits and terrorists will never be able to torment the South West as they are doing in the North. South West governors must demonstrate the political will to protect their states by spending huge chunks of their security votes on Amotekun.
“MURIC is particularly unhappy with the way South West governments relegated the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) to the background since the commencement of Amotekun. OPC was the only indigenous security network that confronted the military junta and secured Yorubaland from marauding armed robbers who tormented citizens every night in those days.
“At this juncture, MURIC salutes late Dr. Frederick Fasheun and Aare Gani Adams for their efforts in founding and sustaining the security organization. This is the time OPC should be compensated but what do we see? South West governments now prioritise the possession of academic certificates in the recruitment of Amotekun members. It is saddening. State governments in Yorubaland should recruit OPC members in large numbers and let the citizens see them on every street. Security is serious business. It is not a tea party.”