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S-West govs, others tackle FG on regional security outfits

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Makinde insists Amotekun'll not be under federal establishment…We won’t subsume Amotekun under community policing — S’West govs

…Presidency shouldn’t be misled —OPC

…Govs should sue FG—YCE

…You can’t subsume a solution under failure — Afenifere

…FG wants to cause constitutional crisis — Ayo Adebanjo

…Amotekun won’t be under federal control, says Gov Makinde

…States can’t sponsor FG’s programmes —Ohanaeze Ndigbo

…SANs disagree with FG

By Dayo Johnson, Regional Editor, South-West, Anayo Okoli, Dapo Akinrefon, Ola Ajayi & Adeola Badru

ANGRY reactions, yesterday, trailed the Presidency’s decision to collapse security networks across the country into the Nigerian Police Force and keep them under the control of the Inspector General of Police.

Senior Special Assistant to the President, Garba Shehu, featuring on a Channels Television programme, Sunrise Daily on Tuesday, had said the lack of capacity of states to manage state police informed the need by the Federal Government to embrace community policing which, according to him, is more sustainable.

But the statement elicited angry reactions from South West governors, and other stakeholders, including the Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, one of its leaders, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and Igbo socio-political group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, among others.

Senior lawyers, including Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, and Lawal Pedro, SAN, also flayed the government for thinking up the idea.

Chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, who fired back at the Presidency on behalf of his colleagues, said Amotekun security outfit would not be collapsed into the Community Policing recently approved by the President Muhammadu Buhari.

Akeredolu also insisted that south west  governors would not pay community policemen. He is the Chairman of South West Governors Forum.

Also, the Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, advised the South West governors to sue the Federal Government on its recent comments that Amotekun should be under the supervision of the Inspector-General of Police.

The pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere also picked holes in the Presidency’s remarks on Amotekun, saying a solution could not be subsumed under failure.

In his reaction, Afenifere chieftain, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, said the Federal Government was out to cause a constitutional crisis.

But on its part, the Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, flayed the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, over his comments on Amotekun.

Amotekun won’t be collapsed for community policing, says Akeredolu

Speaking further on the issue on a Channels Television programme, Sunrise Daily, yesterday, Akeredolu, who insisted that Amotekun has come to stay, said: “I am going to tell you straight away. By the time the community policing strategy and implementation come fully into operation, everybody will follow suit. Everybody will join us and follow what we are preaching and what we practice.

“It will never be accepted, it is not our thinking. We have a law that set this up. If the IG feels otherwise, there is always a place for us to ventilate it. We are not afraid of this. The law says Amotekun will operate under its own law; it is not going to be subsumed under any setup. No.

“We will not collapse Amotekun for community policing. It will stand on its own. There is no intimidation. We are not people that can be intimidated (or) that the IG will give orders to.

‘’We will not. Amotekun is different. Community policing is different. If the IG does not understand, he will leave one day and other people will understand.

“We will work together, it is collaboration, not that it will be subsumed. The law is there and if anybody finds a fault in that law, we can go to court and ventilate whatever position in it. The DIG is totally wrong, Amotekun will not be subsumed under the community policing.”

The governor, however, insisted that the Amotekun Security outfit had come to stay, ready to protect the lives of South West people with the use of Non-Prohibited ammunition.

Besides, he urged the Inspector General of Police to call for a discussion on the need for collaboration rather than collapsing Amotekun which was been backed by law, into Community Policing strategy.

He said: “We have a President who has a listening ear, if IG is not ready to listen to us, we will go and meet the President; we will continue to make the case, we will not collapse Amotekun into Community Policing.

“I am sure that they are taking this too far. Governors will have to pay? We have discussed this before and we told them it is not going to be possible. Are you increasing our allocations?

‘’Which state governor will accept that? Other states might say, ‘Yes, we will pay’, but we will not pay.

“Let’s be fair to ourselves, we are running a federal system. Where is that money going to come from when we are struggling to pay salaries? Nobody has ever come to us to say we will pay salaries (of community policemen) anyway and if they come, we will write to say, no, we don’t have extra money to do that.”

Use of arms

Speaking on the use of arms by security outfit, Akeredolu said: “We are trying to make a case but we’ve not yet agreed as to what it should be with the issue of ammunition. For now, we allow Amotekun (corps) to carry non-prohibited ammunition.

“There is some ammunition that are non-prohibited. But we know it can look suicidal trying to confront these criminals with non-prohibited ammunition, so, we are looking at other means.

“These are disciplined people and if they carry arms, it will be for protection. We will keep having this discussion with the Police and at the national level.

‘’But if the Nigerian Police find it difficult to prevent herders who carry weapons with their cows, some of them have prohibited arms like AK-47 and you have not been able to prevent that, so, what stops disciplined people like Amotekun (operatives) carrying arms for protection?.

“At least when civil defence started, they were not carrying arms, they didn’t allow them carry arms but a case was made and they now carry arms. We will continue to discuss this.”

Akeredolu also explained the need for multi-level policing to effectively confront the security challenges in the country.

He said: “No state takes pride in insecurity and the governors will be committed to (state policing) because most governors are elected to secure the lives and property within their domains. So, which state will now have the police of its own and not deploy it to good use?

“Multi-level policing is the best for this country. I am one of those who believe we cannot have a central police and that security will continue to suffer until we devolve multi-level policing.

“Maybe people are afraid that the governors will take charge of it. No, the governors will not be the ones who will be solely responsible for state police.

“It will be a police council at the state level, the composition will be spelled-out and people will be there by virtue of their offices. So, it is not going to be a command that will be headed by a governor but by the functionality of the state police council.”

YCE asks govs to sue FG

Reacting to the development yesterday, the Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE rejected the Federal Government’s proposal to collapse Amotekun into Community Policing.

Speaking through its Secretary General, Dr. Kunle Olajide, the YCE said: “I don’t agree with that comment. The security outfit belongs to the states. Nigeria is running federalism with federating units reasonably autonomous. The governors were sworn in to protect lives and property of their people.

“There are lots of paradoxes in our constitution; the states are on their own. The state governors were elected by citizens to give them protection.”

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On what should be the next line of action, if the Federal Government insisted on its position, he said: “The Federal Government can’t insist. If the Federal Government insists, the governors have to test it in the court of law. We all know that the Nigeria Police has been largely discredited. Should people just sit down and be mowed down every day?

“Well, I believe the comments are mere pronouncements. If the governors receive a letter to that effect, they should formally reject it. They should team up and challenge it in the court of law.”

Stop misleading Presidency, OPC tells Garba Shehu

On its part, Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, flayed the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, over his comments on Amotekun.

The OPC in a statement by the Publicity Secretary, Yinka Oguntimehin, urged the President’s spokesperson to stop   misleading the Presidency, saying operation Amotekun was a child of necessity, that came   at a time when the spate of insecurity in the southwest was becoming unbearable to the people.

Oguntimehin said:  “All the six governors of the states in the southwest responded to the security situation in the region, when it became obvious that the region had been overwhelmed by the various security challenges, including kidnapping, killings and banditry.

‘’Amotekun came into being after passing through all the   legal processes, with the backing of the state House of Assemblies across the southwest. So, for Garba Shehu to have said the Inspector General of Police will determine the structural operation of the security outfit was misleading and purely a misinterpretation of the law establishing the southwest security Corps.

‘’Amotekun is one idea that has come to stay and it is different from community policing that is being promoted by the Nigerian police.”

The OPC spokesperson, however, insisted that Amotekun derives its power and legal backings from the state House of Assemblies with inputs from stakeholders and leaders across the region.

He said: “Amotekun bill has a legal precedent passing through the first and second reading with public hearings held simultaneously across the six states in southwest. So, it is sad that the president’s spokesman made such misleading comments, and he needs to be cautioned by the presidency.

“OPC is not against community policing, we applaud the FG efforts, however, the presidency must also support Amotekun which is an initiative that has been approved by the law across the southwest as a  clear response to combat insecurity ravaging the region.”

You can’t subsume a solution under failure —Afenifere

In its reaction, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, also picked holes in the Presidency’s remarks on Amotekun.

Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin said: “It is a statement that makes no sense at all. Amotekun came up as a result of failure of single policing. How do you subsume the solution under what has failed?”

FG out to cause constitutional crisis —Ayo Adebanjo

Also reacting, elder statesman and Afenifere chieftain, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, faulted the position of the Federal Government, saying it was an attempt to cause constitutional crisis.

Adebanjo said: “If the governors are not conscious of their rights, I will be surprised. There is no basis for what the Federal Government is proposing because the governors, according to the constitution, are the chief security officers of their respective states.

‘’The Federal Government is just out to cause a constitutional crisis because now that they have seen that Amotekun is gaining grounds, they want to truncate it. I will only advise the governors not to chicken out; they should go to court and fight it out. Enough is enough.”

States can’t sponsor FG’s programmes — Ohanaeze Ndigbo

In a show of solidarity, Ohanaeze Ndigbo faulted the Federal Government’s position that states will fund community policing, wondering how governors would now be funding a Federal Government programme.

Reacting to the Federal Government’s position, the acting Secretary General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prince Uche Achi-Okpaga, said such a decision would not succeed.

Achi-Okpaga said: “I am not the spokesperson of the South East Governors but in my personal opinion, I would wonder how and why the governors should sponsor or finance a programme of the Federal Government.

“The Federal Government is in charge of everything about security- Military, Police, Civil Defence- and all other paramilitary agencies. It is not ready to shed itself of needless overloads and still wants states to sponsor her programme. That is the meaning of imbalance.”

I disagree with FG — Ozekhome

‘’I disagree with the Federal Government on this. They are two different matters. The Nigeria Police Force is created by section 214 and 215 of the 1999 Constitution.

‘’It does not admit of any community policing, because it is unwieldy, behemoth and unitary. Outfits like Amotekun were introduced to fill this yawning gap. They are specifically designed to meet the peculiar yearnings of the local people who are never covered by opaque and blurred government radar.

‘’They should, therefore, be left alone and uncorrupted by a Police Force that shows everything but efficiency and effectiveness. The governors as chief security officers of their states are constitutionally empowered to so create them.’’

Lawal Pedro,

SAN:  ‘’The plan by the FG to subsume regional security outfits, such as Amotekun, under the police in the name of community policing is not the solution to our internal security and policing deficiency.

‘’Unless the policing system is decentralised, allowing each state to determine the number of police it can maintain, we shall continue to walk in circle with no progress.

‘’I understand none of our leaders, past and present, is prepared to take the risk to allow state police in Nigeria because of its likelihood of abuse by politicians. But we cannot continue operating the same policing system and expect a different result.’’

FG must fund community policing—South East group

Also reacting, a coalition of South East Youth Leaders, COSEYL, berated the Federal Government for trying to abdicate  its primary responsibility of providing security for its citizens.

President-General of the group, Goodluck Egwu Ibem, said in a statement:  “The statement by the federal government that state governors should sponsor community policing is an indirect way by the federal government to scuttle the regional security programme in the zones and expose the people to more attacks by the jihadists parading as herdsmen in our bushes and forests.

“There is no smoke without fire as the saying goes. We suspect a sinister motive by the sudden turn by the Federal Government to ask state governments to fund a programme initiated by it.  This is totally unacceptable and we reject it in totality.

“The federal government cannot abdicate its first responsibility which is the protection of lives and properties. The function of security is purely in the exclusive list which is the sole responsibility of the federal government. The federal government must wake up to its responsibilities.

“If it were to be collection of revenue from these states, the federal government would not have allowed the state governors to come close to where they are having the discussion, let alone touch the said revenue.  We insist that the federal government must fund the community policing programme.”

Amotekun won’t be under federal control, says Gov Makinde

Also speaking on the issue yesterday, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State insisted that Amotekun would not be under any federal establishment

The governor, who said this during a meeting with chairmen of local government areas and local council development areas, at the state secretariat in Ibadan, maintained that the security network would be solely controlled by the state government.

Making references to communities where crimes have been nipped in the bud with local collaborative efforts, the governor said: “At Okeho the other day, armed robbers robbed a bank and thankfully the community rose to the occasion and assisted to apprehend those people. They combed the forest.

“That is why I will continue to say that Amotekun is here to stay with us. It will not be under the control of the federal establishment. It will be under our control. Security of our people is extremely important.

“Nothing can take place in an atmosphere of insecurity. Oyo state is a very large area. We have international border with smuggling taking place. They killed a Customs officer in Saki few weeks ago and these things are not acceptable to us.”

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