The Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN), the umbrella body for all Muslims in the south-western part of Nigeria, has raised its concern over the controversy that trailed the recent inauguration of the Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSC) codenamed Operation Amotekun.
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Besides the legal issues that the launch of the initiative threw up, we are worried by the ethnic, religious and political dimensions to the public debate. Since when the controversy broke out, MUSWEN has exercised restraint with a view to ensuring that our position is based on irrefutable facts and not sentiments.
MUSWEN duly recognises the fact that government at all levels has a duty to protect and secure all citizens within its constituency. In the same vein, we recognise the right of every citizen to demand adequate security from the government. Indeed, in the recent past, in the face of upsurge in insecurity across the country, MUSWEN had made entreaties to the government to double its efforts on security matters. We, therefore, reiterate our commitment to the good of all citizens, irrespective of their backgrounds.
We want to appeal to the promoters of the security initiative to turn the recent setback to an opportunity. They should now embark on wider consultation with all segments of the citizens in the South West geopolitical zone with a view to engendering the buy-in of all stakeholder groups. It is regrettable that right from the Security Summit that was organised by the State Governments in conjunction with the DAWN Commission, the Muslim Community in the zone was neither consulted nor involved in the process leading up to the inauguration of the initiative. We wish to reiterate the fact that the Muslim Community isn’t all about religion. Rather, it is an important stakeholder group comprising many top-level experts in various fields of human endeavour who are committed to the development of the region and the nation.
It must also be emphasized that the operational framework of the security initiative must be sensitive to the peculiarities of all segments of the citizens in the region – Muslims, Christians and others. It must be run as a modern professional security organisation devoid of fetish practices. Besides, the initiative should never be used to ignite ethnic crisis. We reject in totality all forms of ethnic profiling that some zealots are promoting in the media. All criminals, irrespective of their backgrounds, should have no place in our region and our nation.
Most importantly, the legal conundrum thrown up by this development should be addressed by the promoters of the security initiative without delay.
While we continue to study the critical issues around the Amotekun security initiative, we want to urge all parties to the public debate to exercise restraint and place the interests of the region and the nation before any narrow interest.
Professor Muslih Tayo Yahya, FAR, FASN,