Amotekun: One step forward, two backward

Posted by News Express | 26 July 2020 | 1,001 times

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After successfully scaling the legal hurdles that attended its inception and threatened its very existence, Operation Amotekun, the feline themed Southwestern security outfit established to supplement and complement the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) in the Southwest is threatening to controvert itself by deploying supernatural means to combat insecurity.

The outfit promised to deploy ancient, local and modern techniques to combat insecurity. By employing local and modern techniques in carrying out its sworn duty, Amotekun members can hardly put a foot wrong. But by choosing to adopt ancient, supernatural techniques as the media reports, many questions arise.

One of such questions is: “why magic?” What has rendered the recourse to supernatural powers necessary? In a world that is increasingly reliant on forensic science, the Southwest, which often lays claim to uncommon scholarliness, is still stuck in the shackles of the past.

In an age that blood is being extracted from dead mosquitoes at crime scenes to detect with accuracy the identity of criminals, Amotekun wants to cast spells to address insecurity. Would it not be a sign of advancement with the times if governors chose to collect data and establish laboratories to advance the use of forensic science in investigating crime?

When the outfit was first announced, the major stumbling block was the Second Schedule to the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended, item 17 of which puts defence firmly under the exclusive legislative list. Southwest governors were told to create a legal framework for the establishment of the security outfit, and, interpreting Sections 14(2) and 318 of the 1999 Constitution, they were able to create the necessary legal framework. Now, the agency appears poised to immolate itself by resorting to the use of magic an act not justiciable.

The use of supernatural powers as a security tool cannot be worse than it sounds, no matter how beautifully it is couched. One of the procedural marks of Nigeria’s security architecture is democracy. Another is transparency.

The flexible morality of the NPF and the discouraging management of the Nigerian Army were the major chinks in the Nigerian security architecture, which pushed the south-western governors to establish Amotekun.

The modus operandi of the police, which should monitor internal security, is enshrined in the Police Act. Recourse is often taken to the Criminal Procedure Act on procedural matters and investigation. The Amotekun security outfit was established, inter alia, “to assist the police and other security agencies to carry out any other lawful activity for maintaining law and order in the state”. Usually, the procedure is scientific and logical, not fetish, magical, mysterious, mythical and sorcerous.

The existence of magic cannot be denied, while the knowledge that magic can be used for both good and mischief will not be strange to any acquaintance of Nigerian history. Scholars of the law have written on the controversial nature of supernatural powers and the admissibility of such during court proceedings.

It is for that reason that Operation Amotekun, should it choose to go ahead with its avoidable decision to indulge in spell-casting and incantation chanting, needs to come up with a legal framework to regulate the use of magic. They will hardly be successful here. The Law of evidence preoccupies itself, among other things, with the nature in which evidence is obtained.

How can the police explain in their reports that they were assisted by extralegal procedures and methods? By what methods of validation can the supernatural intelligence thus obtained be scrutinized and tested? What tests will the courts employ in admitting evidence obtained by the use of magic? How can anyone be sure that it is in fact only the guilty that fall victims to these supernatural methods? What if the other parties, the prospective foes, also resort to witchery and the darkest of magic to evade what is believed will be the most earnest attentions of the Amotekun magic? Too many questions arise for comfort.

It is not enough for the security agency to throw in supernatural methods alongside local and modern methods.

The agency is obliged to give detailed accounts of the procedure to be used in the administration and execution of its mandate, but more importantly, it may be time to move beyond the longing for swift but unreliable and incomprehensible magic to the groundbreaking possibilities that forensic science offers.  (The Nation)




Source: News Express

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