FROM AMOTEKUN TO EBUBE AGU: WHY SOUTHERNERS TURNED TO LEOPARDS FOR THEIR SECURITY

Nigeria is plagued by insecurity. In the light of recent developments, it appears that even our security agents including the Police and the armed forces are in need of security. 

Amotekun

In response to the insecurity situation, sometime ago, Governors of the South-West (made up of people of the Yoruba tribe) formed a joint security outfit codenamed, Amotekun (meaning a Leopard). Larry Malemi gave a detailed account and an opinion on the Amotekun formation. He concludes that:

Amotekun is a masterstroke and the boldest statement any region in Nigeria has ever made to the Federal Government in recent times, devoid of violence or even a public protest. It is a carefully thought protest mechanism against the Government for its inability to tackle insecurity squarely, which have been an infinite continuum. Amotekun is not a cause rather it’s a cure. Amotekun is not an ailment rather it is an antidote. Amotekun is not a problem rather it is a solution. Amotekun is not a noise, it is a sound that is understood by a majority of Westerners.

ESN

In the South-East (made up of people of predominantly Igbo origin), while the Governors appeared too slow to respond in a similar fashion, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) formed a security organization known as Eastern Security Network (ESN). Just like its parent body, IPOB, ESN has been a torn in the flesh of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Understandably, IPOB clamours for self-determination. Thus, the armed security formation is perceived as an “army” assembled for the purpose of the breakaway agitation rather than for the protection of the South-East as claimed. The South-East Governors rejected ESN.

Ebube Agu

From the reports, South-Eastern Governors had since distanced themselves from ESN. After protracted effort, the Governors of the South-East has now formed the region’s security outfit known as Ebube Agu, which literally means, “Glory of a Leopard”. Ebube means, “Glory”, while Agu means Leopard. Many Igbos use the word, Agu, to mean lion or Tiger. But lion in Igbo means Odum. Anozie Awambu explains reasons for the confusion here.  

But why Leopard?

The Learned writer, Larry Malemi, also explained the distinctive and attractive features of the Leopard thus:

Leopards have very unique characteristics. First, Leopards do not need much water as they survive from the moisture they get from consuming their prey. Second, they can run up to 36 mph (58 kph), jump forward 20 feet (6 meters) and leap 10 feet (3 m) straight up. Third, their ear can hear five times more sounds than that of the human ear. Fourth, Because of its adapted retinas, leopards can see seven times better in the dark than humans. Leopards are carnivores, but they are not picky eaters. They crouch low to sneak up to their prey and pounce before it has a chance to react. A leopard will kill its prey with one swift bite to the neck, breaking it. The Leopard refrains from fighting just anybody, it chooses its prey carefully in the thick of the night when other animals are far too asleep to do a thing. The Leopard makes a variety of sounds which includes: a territorial hoarse, a raspy cough, a contended purr and a threatened hiss. However, more interesting is the fact that a leopard barks when it needs to make a bold statement. Unlike a dog, the barking of a leopard is accompanied with an innate and ferocious desire to devour, annihilate and subdue prey with precision rather than permutation and with the requisite mens rea and actus reus to bring its intention to fruition.

Shege Ka Fasa

Early in 2020, a group (Coalition of Northern Groups) in the Northern part of Nigeria formed a regional security organization known as Shege Ka Fasa for the purpose of tackling kidnapping and banditry in the region. Shege Ka Fasa is an Hausa expression which means “I dare you”. It is not precisely clear who is the subject of the dare. But what was clear was that the Northern Governors rejected the outfit. 

Unlike the Leopards used as symbol in the South, the symbol of Shege Ka Fasa is a lion, obviously signaling bravery.

The Law

There is no doubt that in line with Items 38 and 45 of the Second Schedule to the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the Constitution placed the power to make laws for security formations in the country in the Exclusive List, under the control of the National Assembly. In furtherance of this, the Constitution established the armed forces (comprising the Army, Navy and Airforce) as well as the Police and other government security services established by law.

Section 14(2)(b) of the Constitution provides that “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”

By this provision, there is a constitutional duty on the Governors of the thirty six States of the Federation to secure their respective States. In the current outlook, The Governors are expected to work closely with the security agencies formed by the Federal Government. However, it is doubtful whether this arrangement is totally in accord with the spirit of true federalism. 

While we watch to see where the development leads, it appears the idea of restructuring is becoming inevitable.

It is doubtful how well the Federal and State Governments have worked for the promotion of national integration in the country, as mandated by Section 15(3) of the Constitution. Promoting national integration entails providing adequate facilities for and encouraging free mobility of people, goods and services throughout the Federation; securing full residence rights for every citizen in all parts of the Federation; encouraging inter-marriage among persons from different places of origin, or of different religious, ethnic or linguistic associations or ties; and encouraging formation of associations that cut across ethnic, linguistic, religious or other sectional barriers. 

Importantly, Section 15(4) provides that “The State shall foster a feeling of belonging and of involvement among the various peoples of the Federation, to the end that loyalty to the nation shall override sectional loyalties.”

Beyond the clamour for security, a close observation of the turnout of events would reveal that Nigeria is currently terribly divided along ethnic lines. There is so much bloodshed fuelled by animosity and lack of peaceful coexistence. 

From Amotekun to Ebube Agu, Southerners have now turned to “Leopards” for their security. It remains to be seen how well these formations will wade off kidnappers, robbers, bandits and other killers terrorising the regions. 

Although the North appears to be in control of the national security agencies, Northerners equally feel insecure. Reports from Borno, Zamfara, Kaduna and other areas are sickening. No one precisely knows at the moment where their fate lies, whether in lions, pythons or crocodiles.

 

 

 



Stephen Azubuike
Author: Stephen Azubuike
Stephen is a lawyer with expertise in Commercial Dispute Resolution and Technology Law practice. He is a Partner at Infusion Lawyers. He has successfully argued cases from the High Courts of various jurisdictions to the Appellate Courts on behalf of financial institutions, other corporate bodies and multinationals. He has advised a number of both established and startup tech companies. He tweets @siazubuike.

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09079024002 stephenlegalblog@gmail.com info@stephenlegal.ng

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