…As S/West Governors Wield Gauntlet, Resolve to Contain Region’s Increasing Insecurity …It’s a Military Wing of OPC—Northern Youths Against the perception in some quarters that the South West has floated a militia group, Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi and his Oyo State counterpart, Mr Seyi Makinde have condemned attempts to sabotage the Western Nigeria
…As S/West Governors Wield Gauntlet, Resolve to Contain Region’s Increasing Insecurity
…It’s a Military Wing of OPC—Northern Youths
Against the perception in some quarters that the South West has floated a militia group, Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi and his Oyo State counterpart, Mr Seyi Makinde have condemned attempts to sabotage the Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed ‘Amotekun’ launched in Ibadan on Thursday.
Fayemi, also chairman, Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), said at the launch that since the initiative was birthed there has been deliberate attempts to twist the narrative and reasons for forming the security outfit.
At the epoch-making event attended by prominent Yoruba leaders including traditional rulers and politicians, signalling a political will and concerted effort to tackle growing insecurity across the Southwest after many months of kidnappings, perennial herders attack and other crimes which have impacted negatively on socio and economic life.
Calling on members of the public and the Federal Government not to misrepresent the motive, Fayemi said it should not be seen as an agenda to undermine the integrity of the country, instead, the initiative was to enable the Governors discharge their constitutional responsibilities to the people who elected them into office.
“We have seen all sorts in social media. What has proliferated the social media is an attempt to sabotage what we are doing. We are not creating a regional police force neither are we oblivious of steps to take in order to have state police. Yes, some of us are an apologetic, inveterate advocate of state police, but we are also law-abiding citizens of Nigeria. We know the process and procedure to undergo to get to that point.
“Don’t misrepresent our motive.
“We don’t want anybody to misrepresent what we are doing here. Amotekun is going to operate in Oyo. However, we share boundaries and there may be a situation that would warrant a handshake between one or the other of our Amotekun formation.
“Most importantly, it is not an agenda to undermine the integrity of our country.
“Just as some of us are unapologetic Yoruba indigenes, we are very proud citizens of Nigeria and we will do everything to protect the integrity of our people,” Fayemi said.
Also speaking at the launching of the security outfit, Governor Makinde said traditionally, human beings are afraid of what they do not understand.
“The security of their lives and properties should be of paramount importance. When we discuss the economic potentials of our states, and talk of investment opportunities, and growing our internally generated revenue, by exploring areas of comparative advantage, we remain fully aware that we cannot achieve anything in a state of insecurity. And so, we are here.
“To those who are afraid, I say, when we assumed office, we all took the oath of office and promised to be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria. To follow the dictates of the Constitution and protect the sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
“That enemy is not Nigeria, but bad elements among us who are threatening our co-existence. We shall ensure that Amotekun is in line with the security architecture of the Constitution.”
Knocks from NYCN
But the Northern Youths Council of Nigeria (NYCN) has faulted the creation of Amotekun in the South-West, claiming it is not different from the outlawed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).
But the NYCN in a statement faulted the move, describing Amotekun as the “military wing” of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC).
“Amotekun group in the South-West is OPC military wing in disguise and in the same league with the proscribed IPOB. The President must not allow this unconstitutionality to prevail,” the body said.
“The South-West Governors must desist from backing nefarious groups such as this one. Amotekun is a threat to peace and national security and an attempt to jeopardise Nigeria’s sovereignty. Amotekun is no different from Boko Haram and IPOB in their formative stages.”
Furthermore, the group said: “Nigeria Police, DSS and Army shouldn’t take this lightly with the Governors of the Southwest.
“The National Security Adviser should promptly take steps that will avert the looming threat to our national security that is about to be threatened by the South-West governors, OPC and others.”
Dismissing Presidency Summon
Ondo Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu has denied reports that the six South west Governors were summoned by the Presidency over the launch of Western Nigeria Security Network code named Operation Amotekun.
There had been insinuations in the social media that the Presidency had, a day to the inauguration, summoned the Governors to defend the security outfit for the region and how its operation would not be as an affront on the conventional police.
The reports had added the Governors who had shunned the invitation were however summoned by the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu to provide ‘satisfactory explanations’ on the Security Network as a yardstick for the launch and operation in the region.
But the launch which held at the Oyo State Government Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan amidst funfair and jubilations, was attended by Governor Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Dr Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) and Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo).
Governor Gboyega Oyetola (Osun) and his counterpart from Ogun state Governor Dapo Abiodun were represented by their deputies.
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu was said to have been absent due to bad weather that made landing of his aircraft impossible.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi led other traditional rulers from the region to the launch.
Akeredolu who is also the chairman, South West Governors Forum insisted that all the Governors are on the same page on the project and had contributed time and resources to ensure its workability and sustenance.
He added that even the Presidency had no issue with Operation Amotekun but that a formal meeting on the running of the security outfit was held between the Governors and IGP.
He said the Governors were represented at the meeting by Governor Fayemi .
Akeredolu said, “Let me be very clear to you, the Presidency never summoned the Governors at no time. I am sure that the Presidency is agreeable to this. All that happened was very clear, we needed to have formal discussions with the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and we didn’t all have to go there, the Governor of Ekiti represented us all there and had formal discussion with the IGP and that was all.
“The President never summoned us on this matter at all.”
“As you know, in every human endeavour, no one can be certain about the activities of those that will be involved in doing the works, but one thing is certain, we are going to ensure that the abuse is minimal.
On the management of the outfit, Akeredolu said, “We will do this from the beginning, those we are employing, those we are drafting and that will work in the scheme are being trained and with the training and if anybody falls short and or go out of the way, then he is out, so we are going to ensure that those that will work are properly trained, they will know what their limits are.
“So, for us, it is a human endeavour that could have one lapse here and there but by and large, we will ensure that nobody runs foul.”
On the sustainability, he said “It can never fizzle out, if all of us, six governors in this zone come together to do something, are you saying we have decided to buy those vehicles to throw into the stream? We have bought vehicles, motorcycles and co to this outfit and we are sure it will be here for long.
”Whatever happens, you will remember that we always start something here. We started the road safety here, now road safety is federal, so we have started something here again and we said, it is helping community policing and I am sure that it will soon catch up everywhere in the country.
“What we are doing is legal and all we know is that it is within our powers. Section 14 of the constitution is very clear and we have responsibilities for our people in this zone for their security of lives and property, so it is in pursuit of that, that we are setting that up to make sure that at least, to give our people the confidence that the Governors are worried with the state of insecurity in the region.
“We have said that the essence of Amotekun is collaboration. We are not here to upstage any of the existing security operatives, be it military, police, civil defence, all of them. We are all going to work together, I can assure you.
“What has happened in most of the state is that, we have all sat down with the personnel that will work in the operation and we discussed with the brigade commanders, the commissioner of police and all others and we all agreed on it. Because when it comes to security, no one agency can do it alone, there must be synergy and all of us must come together to work.”
Reacting to the recent launch of Operation Amotekun, a regional security outfit by the South West, President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, described the action as laudable.
In a statement on Friday, by Mr Emeka Attamah, his Special Adviser on Media, Nwodo said federating units in any federation have the right to control their domestic security.
Ohanaeze stated: “Our Army and Air Force are commanded by officers who should have retired according to establishment laws. In law, they are functus officio. The violation of our extant laws in this regard is simply to satisfy a desire for ethnic hegemony. To do this, their more competent juniors are retired not minding the huge resources the nation invested in their training. Posting, promotion, arrest, prosecution of offenders are carried out with an ethnic mindset. Ethnic cleansing appears to influence premature retirements.
“If you are a Fulani herdsman, you have a license to kill and escape arrest. Our troops fighting Boko Haram have low morale and motivation.
“In the South East, mere travelling on the highway attracts an illegal tax to law enforcement agencies, sometimes carrying POS machines to exploit cashless travellers who are forced to make transfers to private accounts. Who can resign his private security to this kind of arrangement?
“Can you run a federation where the federating units cannot control their domestic security? If a President, in violation of our immigration laws and extant treaties governing the movement of persons in our sub-region and continent, orders all Africans, including Boko Haram recruits, to come freely into our country without screening, won’t you be scared that everywhere is now a war front? What about the 12 million children out-of-school and the over 60 million unemployed youths waiting to vent their anger on all of us?
“I salute the South West Governors. Nobody needs to tell any Nigerian today that your security is in your own hands!”
Vindication of IPOB’s Stance
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has also commended South-West Governors, elders, stakeholders as well as politicians for their doggedness and courage to protect their people and their region from the hands of Fulani herdsmen and Nigeria Government soldiers.
The group described the formation and launch of Operation Amotekun by South-West leaders as most commendable, likening it to its security outfit BSS launched in 2017 by its leader, Mr Nnamdi Kanu.
A statement by IPOB’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Mr Emma Powerful, wondered why those who were at the forefront of misrepresenting and condemning its leader “for having the vision and foresight to challenge Fulani terrorism in Nigeria,” were presently praise singing the introduction of Amotekun.
It observed that it is not the first time in recent weeks that the IPOB leader’s position and approach has been vindicated by events and utterances from other ethnic groups within Nigeria.
The statement partly reads: “The inescapable truth remains that Bishop Kukah’s commendable utterances about the Jihadi intent of the present regime in Nigeria and formation of a Yoruba vigilante by OPC are all lines of reasoning and event consistently canvassed and championed by IPOB in the past.
“The fact remains that Nigeria as presently constituted is the greatest threat to life and peace.
“Notwithstanding the barefaced envy and jealousy directed towards IPOB by the political class and sections of uninformed talking heads, we IPOB are delighted that we continue to set the pace of radical thinking and social change within and outside Nigeria.
“IPOB wholeheartedly welcome Amotekun and say good morning to those who out of ignorance, poor sense of vision, lack of reasoning and self-consuming jealousy fought against the formation BSS.”
IPOB observed that the time has come for those who ignorantly questioned the modus operandi of IPOB and the vision of Biafra liberation as boldly preached by Kanu to tender an unreserved public apology.
It insisted that history and events have continued to vindicate IPOB and its methods even as it called on all ethnic groups to swallow their shame and publicly acknowledge that IPOB is always right.
Continuing, the statement said: “Now that South-West Governors and politicians have openly and commendably armed and supported OPC militants to defend Yorubaland, isn’t this a clear indication that the black market and proscription of IPOB by Fulani government supported by Ohanaeze Ndigbo, South-East Governors and Lagos/Abuja politicians only succeeded in making the entire Eastern region a fertile ground for Fulani Jihadi expansionism and impetus for Miyetti Allah terrorism and territorial expansion?
Arewa Youth Consultative Forum
Leader of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), Mr Yerima Shettima, has expressed support for Amotekun, saying he has been an advocate of community policing all along.
Shettima also distanced himself from a northern group which earlier condemned the South-west move.
He urged Nigerians to disregard social media insinuations that he and his group were against the inauguration of the Amotekun in the South-west.
In a statement he personally signed and made available to newsmen in Abuja on Saturday, Shettima said if the Federal Government cannot put measures in place to secure lives and property of Nigerians, state or regional efforts to secure citizens should not be opposed.
“I am an advocate of Community Policing, if I now come out to condemn the inauguration of Amotekun in the South-west that is counterproductive. So, I commend the initiative and I will encourage the citizens to cooperate with the system to ensure effective operation which certainly will bring about secured society,” Shettima stated.
While urging the Nothern Governors Forum (NGF) to come up will a similar programme constitutionally recognised to protect the North, Shettima added that “it is a good thing that even the North-west governors are already thinking along that direction.”
Northern Governors Forum
Governors of the 19 northern states have however said that they would not adopt wholesale, the regional security outfit, Operation Amotekun, launched by the South West States.
Chairman of the Northern Nigerian Governors Forum, NNGF, Mr Simon Lalong, disclosed the position of the northern states governors to State House correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Lalong, who is also the Governor of Plateau State, said a committee was working on a new security architecture in the northern states which would be based on community policing as a way to provide sustainable solution to the insecurity in the region.
Governor Lalong stated that all the northern states were in deep discussions and were making efforts to operationalise state policing, and not regional security outfit as floated in the South-west.
According to him, the peculiarities of the south are different from those of the northern region, adding that several committees had been put in place by the NNGF and are all working tirelessly to address the spare of insecurity in the North.
Asked if his colleagues in the North Central would consider putting up a security outfit like the Amotekun launched recently in the South West, he replied: “The situation in the South might not be the same with the north but in the North we are also looking at some ways that will also address these issues. So we have gone ahead to set up committees; those committees have done their work and we are going to meet to address these issues once and for all.
“Two, we have also agreed to key into community policing and at the level of the committee, we have already gone far. Each state is already neck deep in community policing.
“But I have not ready the document, I cannot claim to have read the details of that (Amotekun) document, to understand what they mean by Amotekun. I saw various vehicles that were bought but you know if it’s about vehicles, many vehicles have been bought in the north. I bought almost 100 vehicles and gave to the police but that is not what will address the insecurity in my state.
“So, it may vary from the South to the North but in the North we are trying to look for comprehensive ways that will help augment what the federal government is doing in respect to insecurity,” he said.