Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, test-driving one of the operational vehicles bought for the security outfit
. Amotekun not regional police – Fayemi
The six Southwest states of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Osun and Ekiti, on Thursday launched the much publicized security outfit, Amotekun, to tackle the problem of insecurity within the region.
The event took place at the Car Park of the Oyo State Governor’s Office.
At exactly 11:59 am, four governors, led by the Chairman, Southwest Governors’ Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu, arrived at the venue of the inauguration.
He was joined by the host Governor, Seyi Makinde; Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi and Osun State Deputy Governor, Gboyega Alabi.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi arrived at the same time. The programme commenced immediately.
Speaking after the official launch, Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, dispelled rumours that the newly launched Western Nigeria Security Network code-named Operation Amotekun is regional police.
Fayemi stated that the Southwest governors were not out to undermine the integrity and sovereignty of Nigeria but were providing the Yoruba people with a “confidence-building strategy” to tackle crime and criminality in the region.
The governor added that Amotekun was neither an alternative to any of the conventional security agencies in the country nor a state police.
He said rather, Amotekun would complement and work in collaboration with existing security agencies to provide adequate security of lives and property in the region.
“The Western Nigeria Security Network operation Amotekun is nothing but a community policing response to a problem that our people would like to put an end to. But pending the time that the community policing strategy being put together by the Nigeria Police comes to fruition, it is clearly important that we give our people a confidence boosting strategy.
“So if you ask me, Amotekun is nothing but a confidence building strategy for our people in the western zone. When those elements that are going to work in the joint task force with the mainstream security agencies undertake this assignment, they are going to do it with the knowledge of the terrain, language and culture of the community they are going to work.
“Amotekun is not a duplication neither is it a replacement for the Nigeria Police Force. Amotekun is a complement that gives our people the confidence that they are being looked after by the people they elected into office. We do not want this to create fear in the mind of anyone. “We are not creating a regional police force. We are not oblivious of the steps we need to follow in forming State police. We are law abiding citizens of Nigeria. We know that will require a constitutional amendment and we are not there yet”, he said.
While commending the role played by the mainstream security agencies in tackling kidnapping and banditry in the zone, the governor said Amotekun would reduce the burden on the agencies which he described as “overstretched”.
Fayemi who added that the security agencies have embraced the Western Nigeria Security Network urged Nigerians not to give room for fears which may have emanated from the propaganda circulating in the social media about Amotekun.
“We were daily assaulted by the spate of kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery across the length and breadth of the South West. We obviously sought succour in all the right places and the mainstream security tried their best in arresting the security situation. It was in the context of this development that we lost the daughter of our leader in Afenifere, Pa Fasoranti.
” As elected leaders of our various States, our primary responsibility according to section (14)2 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, is the security and welfare of our citizens and that’s what informed the coming together of my colleagues and I to fashion a way that we can utilise to complement the work of our mainstream security agencies that are quite overstretched in their efforts to curb the menace that has afflicted not just our zone but the entire country at the time”, he said.
In his speech, the Chairman of the Western Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ondo State, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu said the governors are united in their resolve to ensure peace and security in the region.
Akeredolu explained that “It has become embarrassing that insecurities are happening in the south-west state. Amotekun will save us from ritual killing, cybercrime, kidnapping among others. We shall not relent until the entire place is secured.
“We the South-West governors believe in the unity of Nigeria and we can’t afford to break this country. I married an Igbo woman and we believe in Nigeria. We are committed in the idea to make Nigeria great and united,”
The governor however stated that the south west governors cannot erect “an antagonistic structure whose template is against existing security apparatus”.
He said the barbarism displayed by criminal elements in the region gave the governors grave concern which necessitated the security platform.
The governor stressed that he and his colleagues believed in the unity of Nigeria because the nation’s “strength is in unity”.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, Governor Seyi Makinde had stated that development cannot take place in a state of insecurity.
He added that Amotekun would protect the lives and property of indigene and non indigene.
Osun State Governor, Mr Gboyega Oyetola, who was represented by his Deputy, Benedict Alabi thanked the service chiefs for their support in tackling insecurity in the region.
He assured that Amotekun would work in collaboration with all security agencies.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, called on personnel of the Western Nigeria Security Network not to betray the region on the ideals behind setting up the security outfit.
The Ooni said that the governors in the region had done their best, adding that it was left for the personnel and the residents of the region to work together for the success of the security outfit.
“All the traditional rulers are in support, the Federal Government is not opposed to it, let all and sundry support it for peace to reign in the region.
“The success of this security outfit will be of benefit to the present generation and generations yet unborn,” he said.
The leader of the Yoruba World Congress, Prof. Banji Akintoye, said that the governors and the people of the region had risen up to the security challenge in the region.
“The people that will work in Amotekun are going to be trained properly by highly educated people for them to relate properly with the police and the army,” he said.
The National Public Relations Officer, Vigilante Group of Nigeria, Prof. Nelson Fashina, said that his personnel were properly qualified for the security outfit.
Fashina said that the group was capable of taking up the responsibilities of community policing as members were conversant with the terrain.
The Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Chief Gani Adams, expressed optimism that Operation Amotekun would help put to an end, criminality in the region. Adams, a co-founder of OPC said that the initiative was long overdue.
“Don’t forget I was one of those that pushed them (governments in the region) to do this security summit before they now decided to initiate Amotekun.
”I can tell you authoritatively that Yoruba people are happy with this initiative. Whoever criticise Amotekun is either a sadist or a person without values. Anybody that is against this initiative is an enemy of the Southwest; and if anything untoward should happen in this region, such a person should be held responsible. “
Adams likened Operation Amotekun to a child of circumstance, saying it represents a traditional way the Yoruba secure their domain.
“Amotekun is not the real state police we are asking for but I just see it as a temporary means of tackling crimes in the Southwest.
”Ordinarily, we agitate for state police but if we don’t have state police now, something has to be done because state police can bring constitutional issues that may lead to an amendment to the Constitution. But a security outfit that will be controlled by the state governments is highly needed now.”
Adams also claimed to be in possession of some intelligence that certain forces from Chad, Libya, Mali and Niger had infiltrated the Southwest.
He lamented that security threats in the region had gone beyond kidnapping and herdsmen crises.
“But Operation Amotekun will solve so many issues even beyond the herdsmen crises. We also have information that some Yoruba have connived with these criminal elements and are giving them information as to who they should kidnap to get money.
”What the governors are doing now concerning Amotekun is in the interest of Yoruba land. We have to support them. Once this is launched, you will see that within one month, criminals will retreat because the Southwest will no longer be a safe haven for them.”
The National Youth Council of Nigerian (NYCN) said that Operation Amotekun will help flush out criminals from the region.
The NYCN which is the umbrella body of youths commended the Southwest governors for the initiative.
“We must commend the governors of the six states of the Southwest for coming up with this initiative. We believe that Operation Amotekun will address kidnapping, armed robberies and help flush out criminal elements that had held the region hostage,” its Vice President, Southwest, Olamide Odumosu, said in a statement.
The idea of Operation Amotekun was mooted during a security summit organised by the DAWN in July 2019 at the height of kidnapping and other criminal activities in the Southwest.
The governors present at the occasion were Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo and Seyi Makinde of Oyo while Osun and Ogun were represented by their deputies.
Also on ground at the launch were contingents from the six southwest states of Lagos, Ondo, Ekiti, Ogun, Osun and the host state Oyo. Also at the venue are leaders of thought and groups.
They include Group Managing Director, Odu’a Investments Ltd., Mr Adewale Raji; Director General, Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission, Mr Seye Oyeleye; Arch Muyiwa Ige, Mr Ayo Afolabi and Kunle Famoriyo of the Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) and some traditional rulers.
Also in attendance are members of vigilante groups such as local hunters and the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) and statutory security agencies.