•Say it’s not regional police, but community policing
•People want to sabotage our efforts —Fayemi
•Why we launched Amotekun —Akeredolu
•Sanwo-Olu, Abiodun, Oyetola, Alaafin absent
•I’m happy with govs for putting aside politics — Ooni
•S-South, S-East, others should follow suit —CSOs
By Dayo Johnson, Regional Editor, S-West, Ola Ajayi, Adeola Badru, Prince Okafor & Olayinka Ajayi
IBADAN —GOVERNORS of the six states of the South West, yesterday, told the Federal Government not to see the launch of the Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Operation Amotekun (Leopard) as an agenda to undermine the integrity of the country.
They, however, said the initiative was meant to discharge their constitutional responsibilities to the people who elected them into office.
The governors stated this at the launch of the security outfit held at the Oyo State Governor’s Office, Secretariat, Ibadan.
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The event was well attended by prominent Yoruba leaders including traditional rulers and politicians.
Governors Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo) and Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) attended the event while Governors of Ogun, Lagos and Osun sent representatives.
Those absent at the event include Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi; Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji; Oyo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Sina Olukolu and the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams.
Pro-APC leader groups absent
It was also gathered that some governors and politicians, loyal to a top All Progressives Congress, APC, leader in the South-West were instructed not to attend the programme personally, following the body language of some powerful interest groups in the party.
A top government source said the APC leader from the South-West had complained to President Muhammadu Buhari that he knew nothing about the concept.
Initiative to prevent aggression
The governors who spoke separately reiterated that the initiative was occasioned by the need to protect their people from any aggression.
Governor Fayemi of Ekiti, who is also Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, made it clear that the killing of the daughter of the leader of Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti put more pressure on the governors in the zone to find a means to address the security challenges.
Fayemi said: “The genesis of this initiative was when we were being assaulted by a spate of kidnappings, banditry and armed robbery across the length and breadth of Western Nigeria. We sought succour in all the places and the mainstream security agencies did their best to arrest the situation.
“It was in the context of this unfortunate development that we lost a daughter of our leader in Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, and that further put and rightfully, a lot of pressure on the political leadership of the South-West to do something about the fear our communities and constituencies were living in. They were not sleeping with their eyes closed and as elected leaders of our various states, our primary responsibilities according to Section 14(2) of the Nigerian Constitution 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 utilize to complement the work of our security agencies that are quite overstretched in their efforts to arrest the menace that had afflicted not just our zone but the entire country at a time.
“But having been a relatively peaceful zone and we’re now witnessing the problem, our people became agitated.
So, six months ago, we held a security summit in Ibadan and I’m pleased that this idea has been embraced by the leadership of the Police because the IGP announced the commitment of the police to community policing.”
Amotekun is community policing
Also, Fayemi said: “Amotekun is nothing but a community policing response to problems that our people wanted to see an end to. Pending the time community policing being put together by the Police comes to fruition, we must give confidence to our people, so all we have done is a confidence boosting strategy.
“If you ask me, Amotekun is nothing but a confidence-building strategy for our people in the six states. The personnel that will work in the security outfit will do the work with the knowledge of the terrain, language and history of where they are going to work.
“Amotekun is not duplication or a replacement of the police force but gives our people confidence that they are being looked after by the people they elected into office.”
People want to sabotage our efforts
He continued: “We have seen all sorts of report in social media. What is on 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 to have state police. Yes, some of us are apologetic, inveterate advocates 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.
“We don’t want anybody to misrepresent what we are doing here. Amotekun is going to operate in Oyo and other states of the South West. However, we share boundaries and there may be 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.”
Why we launched Amotekun—Akeredolu
In his remarks, Chairman of the South West Governor’s Forum, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, also gave reasons for the setting up of the security outfit.
Akeredolu said: “We shall not relent until the entire space is secure; we acknowledge the efforts of the Federal Government and its agencies in steering the security in the polity. It is comforting to know the deliverance stride recorded and to know that it is our sincere hope that our contributions at the regional level will serve as the secretive complement to the security architecture that may be put in place by the Federal Government in future.
“We have spoken about community police. It is not our intention to erect any antagonist structure. That is not what we are here to do. This operation will not be at across purposes to the existing template of defence. That is not what we are here for. We want to work together, that is the purpose. This informs why we are here today. People are familiar with our rich heritage. We agree that banditry, armed robbery, kidnapping, and other vices are alien to our society. We always triumph after every act of sabotage. We inherited an enviable heritage of magnanimity from our ancestors which include trusting, accommodating, generous, but not stupid.
“The protection of our people is paramount and all governors of our region are united in their resolve to put in everything to ensure that there is peace and security in the South West.
“Our aspiration for a prosperous society is largely dependent on this anticipated achievement which with your support and prayer, we will get there.
“Consequently, we, your governors having considered the need to treat all matters connected with security challenges, we have decided to come up with a practical strategy for combating the serious criminal tendencies, following our meeting of June 29, 2019, in Abuja.
“We discussed the central issue of development in our region, we came up with the development agenda for Western Nigeria, DAWN, at the meeting. At the summit, a practical solution was proffered among others to the rising incident of kidnapping, banditry and armed robbery on our highway and rural areas, we must emphasis that ‘Amotekun’ is only one of many solutions to the socio-economic challenges we face in this region.”
Amotekun ‘ll be in line with Constitution —Makinde
Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State said: “Traditionally, human beings are afraid of what they do not understand.”
He, however, added that the governors will ensure that Amotekun is in line with the security architecture of the Constitution.
Makinde said: “The security of their lives and property 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.”
I’m happy with govs for putting aside politics —Ooni of Ife
Speaking on behalf of other traditional rulers, who thronged the place, the
Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, was very happy that political affiliation did not create any barrier to the launch of the outfit.
The Ooni said: “I sincerely commend the governors of the six western states for putting aside partisanship and collaborating on what can benefit their region wholly.
“I realised that Yoruba race was being threatened and I discussed with the Alaafin of Oyo, who gave me the mandate through his experience on the throne, and we all agreed that security in Yorubaland was being threatened. We thank God that the Federal Government is not averse to community policing.
“But it is important to note that if a fire is burning one, one’s child and one’s relation, one should quickly extinguish that on one’s body first.
“I urge us all to support this project because we are all Amotekun. Our South West governors do not want deceit. Our tradition and customs do not encourage deceit because whoever betrays will be swept away by it. I assure you all that all traditional rulers support this project. I, therefore, urge all of us to collaborate and join hands together with Amotekun so that peace may reign in Yorubaland. Many of our people living overseas are afraid of coming home. We should be mindful of what our generations to come will say of us,” the monarch said.
We’ll defend S-West against aggression —Akintoye
Leader of the Yoruba World Congress, Professor Adebanji Akintoye, said the zone would not fold its arms while its indigenes are being overrun.
In his goodwill message, he said: “I don’t think anybody is in doubt that our nation is in danger today. Our farmers are being driven from their lands. And we know that large number of our farmers out of the fear for their lives and families have fled their abodes. The foundation of our economic well being is fearfully being eroded. And we cannot just watch. The Yoruba people have not just watched. When we first started, we did not know how to take it because we Yoruba are peaceful people.
“We have the assurances that having started this, you will keep it going. You will continue to make it deliver the services you intend to deliver to our people.
“Secondly, we did not train you to go and break up the country. We trained you to be leaders of the world, and each of you is a leader of the world in your rights. I am sure you are not involved in any breakup of the integrity and sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That is not what is happening today. What is happening is that the Yoruba by their elected leaders have decided to give the highest level of protection to their people in their fatherland and homes.
“On the question of how the Amotekun people will relate with the police, I dare say that we are being led by educated people. We are going to train the people who will work for Amotekun properly so that they can have a proper relationship with the police and the Army. I don’t think there can be any problem.”
S’South, S’East, others should tow path — Utomi, others
Meanwhile, other regional groups, Ndigbo Lagos and Nzuko Umunna, yesterday, urged the South-South zone, as well as other regions in the country to move towards the actualisation of community policing.
The groups also said the government was most effective when it is decentralized and moved to the level closest to the people.
Speaking on the sideline after a media briefing to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Nigerian Civil War, Prof. Pat Utomi, said: “I have argued that government is the most effective when it is decentralized and goes to the level closest to the people.
“Nigerians have created a problem with the word called restructuring, so the word is the source of falsification. Whether you call it restructuring or whatever, the government is more effective if it is decentralized closest to the people and that initiative is an initiative in the right direction.
“In policing worldwide, there is a concept called community policing, even the police talk a lot about it but they do not do it.”
Drawing an example from an incident at Beverly Hills, California, Utomi said: “If you are a stranger and you enter a neighbourhood in Beverly Hills, almost from nowhere the Police car will emerge and follow you, until you either reach where you are going or you leave the neighbourhood.
“This is because the people who live in a community are the ones who know those who are there; know the criminals, amongst others.
“So, to try and police a country from Abuja is not a sensible thing, it is the only pursuit of power that leads to that kind of structure, so we need to decentralise. I will support other regions in the nation that move in the direction of community policing, also regions that feel they can collaborate across regional boundaries.
“There is nothing that prevents the South-West from seeking joint command with the South-South and they can do that so long as it is more effective in getting a situation under control.”