Building Blocks for Peace Foundation, a civil society organisation working on conflict prevention, peacebuilding and human rights in Nigeria has organised a one-day training for Amotekun Corps Personnel on ‘Community Policing and Human Rights Protection’. The training which held on the 2nd of November 2023 in Ibadan, Oyo State had eighteen (18) Amotekun corps members drawn from the six Southwest states of Nigeria.
Over the past two years, there have been a considerable increase in the number of human rights violations across Nigeria in the forms of police brutality especially on youth and youth protesters, clamp down on nationalist agitators, several documented incidences of abuse by security agencies and also some involving the regional security network code named Amotekun.
These series of incidences pose a serious threat to the human rights, freedom of citizens and the civic space in Nigeria. Although there is a need to check citizens who go against the law and break the code of conduct of the society as stipulated in the constitution, law enforcement officers are currently seen excessively abusing their power and taking law into their hands. These abuses have been known to rile youths, men and women to act out of line and push to fight the system.
In 2022, Building Blocks for Peace Foundation (BBFORPEACE) with support from the Action Group on Free Civic Space (AGFCS) organized a Multi-stakeholder Dialogue to foster effective relationship between security agencies (Police, Civil Defense, EFCC among others) and civil society in the Southwestern part of Nigeria.
To complement this activity, BBFORPEACE in partnership with the DAWN Commission organised the Southwest Regional Training for the personnel of the Amotekun Corps on “Community Policing and Human Rights Protection”.
OBJECTIVES OF THE TRAINING
The objective of the training was to equip personnel of Amotekun Corps with knowledge of human rights framework existing locally, nationally and internationally, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 1999 Constitution and relevant Local Human Rights Laws. The training intended also to familiarise personnel of the corps with ethics and best practices of community policing and security. Additionally, it aimed at improving the participants’ understanding and application of conflict management strategies.
Building Blocks for Peace Foundation Executive Director, Mr. Rafiu Adeniran Lawal while delivering the opening remarks, expressed displeasure with cases of brutality, human rights violation, and extra-judicial killings by some personnel of the Amotekun Corps, while citing relevant newspaper reports to that effect. On the other hand, he commended the overall Amotekun corps for their ongoing willingness and commitment to the security and well-being of the people of Southwest Nigeria, noting that, because of the efforts of Amotekun personnel, farmers now go to their farms with little or no fear of being attacked by the unusual unknown bandits.
Speaking further, Mr. Lawal noted that the theme of the training underscores the core values that must underpin the services of the Security outfit. That community policing is more than just a strategy, it is a philosophy rooted in partnership, collaboration, and a shared vision of safety and wellbeing. That it involves strengthening the bonds between law enforcement and the communities they serve, and creating safer, more resilient neighborhoods. He further maintained that, community policing requires a deep understanding of the communities they serve, an open dialogue with the citizens, and an unwavering commitment to address their unique needs and concerns.
On the other hand, he charged the Amotekun members to incorporate human rights protection into their operations and that it is only this that justice and fairness are built. That it is a fundamental principle that underscores the dignity and worth of every human being. He added that every person, regardless of their background, deserves to be treated with dignity, respect, and fairness. He admonished the participants saying that, their adherence to human rights principles will be a beacon that guides their actions and sets them apart as a force for good in our communities.
Representatives of the Action Group on Free Civic Space (AGFCS), Miss Ololade Oriola charged participants at the training to endeavor to carry out step-down activities upon return to their various units.
Similarly, Prince Adetayo Adeleke-Adedoyin from Dawn Commission gave the assurance that the Amotekun corps will grow from its current state to a better state as DAWN Commission is currently developing and reviewing policies that will make the network better.
Participants of the training were taken through sessions on “Human Relations, Conflict Management and Conflict Resolution Strategies”, “Ethics, Deportment and Professionalization of Community Security” and “Introduction to Human Rights Protection and Human Rights Legal Instruments”.
NEXT LINE OF ACTION
Members of the Amotekun Corps noted that trainings like this should not be a one-off activity but a continuous interaction. Some added that such trainings should be extended to their sister security organizations like the Police Force for a widespread impact.
The moderator, Samson Shabu marked the conclusion of the training with a brief vote of thanks, appreciating all participants for their presence, patience, contributions, commitment, and activeness during the program. Afterwards, participants had a great time networking and bonding.
Report Written by:
Shabu Tavershima Samson
Research Officer, BBFORPEACE