Prioritise Human Rights In the Establishment of Amotekun, Gavel Tells South West Governors
Citizen’s Gavel, a non-governmental organization working for better and faster justice delivery,human rights promotion, and transparency and accountability in justice system, has commended the South West Governors on the Amotekuninitiative while making a strong case for Human Rights concerns.
For Amotekunto succeed as a community security intervention, its foundational laws, concepts, principles, policies and regulations must be totally imbued with adequate human rights provisions.
Citizen’s Gavel, who has been on the frontline of the EndSARS movement, is requesting the state governments and their lawmaking bodies to pay utmost attention to human rights issues in the process of establishing Amotekun, emphasizing the inadequacy in human rights standards in the present security architecture of Nigeria. It would be of greater damage for Amotekunto evolve and only contribute to the terrible human violations prevalent in the sector.
Below are Gavel recommendations for the AmotekunBill to forestall human rights abuse and promote accountability of operatives:
- The provision of Section 25 of the Amotekun Bill is highly commendable. However, we recommend that the section also provides for the punishments and other disciplinary measures that can be adopted whenever there is a violation of human rights provisions.
- Section 25 (12) (f) provides that “the complaint board should recommend its decision and any such action deemed fit and send its recommendation(s) to the Attorney General in respect of every complaint and request received”. This section reveals that the complaint board is NOT INDEPENDENT as posited in the provision and all its powers are subject to the ratification of the Attorney General of the State – thus the complaint board is almost powerless. We recommend that if a retired judge or Magistrate seats over any complaints, their decision MUST be Final and not subject to anyone in accordance to the separation of powers.
- 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 assert his rights and demand accountability from perpetrators. This means the outfit will be vicariously liable for every action or inactions of its members.
- Section 29 of the Bill provides for powers to arrest suspects and hand such suspects over to the Police. We recommend 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 specialized security sectors where necessary.
- The law does not specifically provide for offenses or infractions that Amotekun Corps can be held liable for. 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.
Team Lead, Citizens’ Gavel