Nigeria: Atiku Restates Support for Amotekun, Says Self-Defence Internationally Guaranteed

22 January 2020

Abuja — In an apparent explanation for his support to the South-west security outfit, Amotekun, former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, has said every Nigerian irrespective of status, has the right to self-defence and the right to combat terror.

This is as Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, yesterday came down hard on ex-governor of the old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, over his comment that Amotekun would lead to the declaration of Oduduwa Republic.

Atiku added that such right was guaranteed by international law enshrined in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter of which Nigeria is a signatory.

Atiku, in a statement, explained that "no human power has the authority to criminalise the protection of human life, and no human ambition is worth the failure to speak in support of the people in order to remain in favour with the oppressors of the people."

He noted that the police, armed forces and paramilitary bodies have shown great gallantry, patriotism and dedication to duty in Nigeria.

"They are our first line of defense against enemies of our nation and saboteurs within our midst. I laud, value and acknowledge them, which is why I awarded scholarships and gave other support to the children of some our fallen heroes."

He, however, pointed out: "I must add that the reality on the ground in Nigeria today is that our armed and paramilitary forces are overstretched. To deny this is to unpatriotically put their lives at risk. This, we must not do. They deserve better from us."

He added that to say that Nigeria and Nigerians did not need the services of those who are patriotic enough to voluntarily put their lives at risk to ensure the protection of the lives and property of Nigerians is to deny the obvious.

The former vice president saluted groups like the Civilian Joint Task Force in the North-east, who provided and continue to provide an invaluable service to Nigeria and her peoples, at great cost to themselves, both in human lives and in productive hours, for which they are not well remunerated.

He said: "Without their altruistic services, where would the war on terror be? I also acknowledge and appreciate the work that hunters and vigilantes have done and are still doing to help boost security in states scattered across Nigeria, including in the North-east and Zamfara, Jigawa and Taraba states, to mention a few.

"Not a few Nigerians are able to sleep with two eyes closed, because of the action of these bodies of dedicated and gallant country men."

Atiku, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential flag bearer in the last general election, said Nigeria has crossed the rubicon and could not go back.

"There is too much insecurity in the land and too much inefficiency from the federal government, leading to wanton and unnecessary loss of lives. It is easy to think that all is well when you are in secure State Houses, but the reality is that the security situation is far from fine for the average Nigerian citizen."

In such circumstances, he noted that "people have an inalienable God-given right to self-defence. This divine right, as long as it is limited to self-defence, cannot be declared illegal by man. Not by any stretch."

He added: "What I counsel is that the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary must wake up and smell the coffee. When they do, they will realise that people who have volunteered to provide the internal security, that the government has not been able to provide, need encouragement, and more importantly, a legal framework and central support to make their dream of preserving the dignity of human life a reality. Internal security is not a call for secession and we must abandon the paranoia that makes us see it as such.

"All calls for secession must be quashed by the might of the Nigerian state, no exceptions!"

But on the matter of internal security as a means of self-defence, he said, "I call on all and sundry to speak up."

"The right to self-defence, including the right to combat terror, that it is guaranteed by international law enshrined in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, of which Nigeria is a signatory.

"Therefore, no human power has the authority to criminalise the protection of human life, and no human ambition is worth the failure to speak in support of the people in order to remain in favour with the oppressors of the people," Atiku said.

Soyinka Berates Balarabe Musa over Comment on Amotekun

Meanwhile, Nobel laureate, Soyinka, has come down hard on ex-governor of the old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, over his comment that Amotekun would lead to the declaration of Oduduwa Republic.

The security task force was initiated by the six South-west governors to tackle kidnapping, banditry and ritual killings bedevilling the region.

Southern and Middle Belt leaders supported the initiative with some northerners kicking against it, while the federal government through the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, had described it as illegal.

Balarabe Musa had said during an interview with a national daily that Operation Amotekun would lead to the declaration of Oduduwa Republic.

But Soyinka in a statement yesterday said Musa was sadly wrong with his position on Amotekun, adding that he hoped he wasn't tragically wrong.

Soyinka said, "Balarabe is sadly but I hope not tragically wrong. I invoke the tragic dimension here because the making of tragedy, especially for nations, often begins when fears are mistaken or promoted as facts, and governments either by themselves, or together with interest groups, are enticed by fears into embarking on precipitate, irrational, and irreversible acts.

"Such acts turn out, in the end, to be based on nothing but fears, sometimes generated by guilt over past injustices, such as inequitable dealing. That is the basis of tragedy, towards which nations are propelled by a partial, or wrongful reading of socio-political realities and- history. I would like to see this nation avoid such a blunder. So, I am certain, would Balarabe Musa.

"Raising the spectre of secession is a facile approach to the dangerous, self-evident lapses in governance which Balarabe himself acknowledges in his response to the Amotekun principle made flesh. The midwives of Amotekun have repeatedly acknowledged that theirs is only a contribution towards a crisis of escalating proportions. Other states should be encouraged to emulate, not misread such initiatives, then demonise them by false attributions. That is the certain recipe for tragedy."

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