STAKEHOLDERS in the South West region, yesterday, expressed concern over the rising cases of insecurity in the zone, despite the inauguration of Western Nigeria Security Network, codenamed ‘Operation Amotekun’ in all the states under the region.
Operation Amotekun was birthed by the SouthWest Governors and Yoruba leaders to combat criminal activities, particularly kidnapping and farm destruction by herdsmen.
However, despite the take-off of the security outfit in all the SouthWest states, the issue of kidnapping and gruesome murder of citizens has continued unabated and this has become a source of concern to all and sundry.
For instance, in the last few days, there have been reported cases of kidnappings, killings and invasion of farmlands in some states of the SouthWest — the killing of a prominent monarch in Ondo State, kidnapping of a foreigner in Ekiti and killing of a cleric, also in Ekiti.
But notable Yoruba leaders and groups like the Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, Agbekoya Farmers Association, the Yoruba World Congress, Afenifere chieftain, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, and former Nigerian Ambassador to The Philippines, Dr. Yemi Faroumbi, yesterday, expressed divergent views over the ineffectiveness of the outfit in the region.
Reacting to the development, the Secretary-General, Yoruba Council of Elders, Dr. Kunle Olajide said it was disheartening that despite the inauguration of the corps, people of southwest could not still sleep with their two eyes closed.
Olajide said: “I am worried too and surprised myself. In fact, I am more disturbed about the rising criminal cases around us than anybody else because I wonder what is going on.
“It is only in the last couple of months that our Governors officially launched the security outfit in states, I think they are yet to put their feet on the ground.
“I don’t know how far they have been equipped because they must have offices in virtually all the council areas or senatorial districts where reports can be launched and at the same time, they must be deployed to protect our borders while they must be provided with necessary communication gadgets and motorbikes for a swift response to criminal activities.”
It remains a stop-gap to state police —Afenifere
The pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, said Amotekun would have been fully operational if not for the hitches it had when it was formed but expressed optimism that the outfit remains the stop-gap to having state police.
Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin said: “Amotekun is inchoate as it was not fully formed before the dysfunctional Nigerian stars threw spanner in the works. It only confirms Afenifere’s take that Amotekun is only a stop-gap on the way to having state police.”
We should ask the governors—Adebanjo
Also speaking, Afenifere chieftain, Pa Ayo Adebanjo said the blame should be put at the doorsteps of the South West governors.
Adebanjo said: “We should ask the governors, maybe the Federal Government is not giving them the necessary cooperation. That is my view. The Federal Government was reluctant on whether Amotekun can carry arms or not and we should also ask the governors whether they have any handicaps. All those under Tinubu are not enthusiastic about it (Amotekun) except Oyo, Ondo and Ekiti have been positive. The governors should tell us why they are not effective.”
S-West govs under rating our roles —Agbekoya
Reacting to the slow pace of Amotekun, Agbekoya Farmers Association accused the South West governors of underrating the role of security stakeholders.
In a statement by its President-General amd National Publicity Secretary, Kamorudeen Okikiola and Olatunji Bandele, the farmers’ guild bemoaned the invasion of towns and villages, killing of innocent citizens and eminent personalities, traditional rulers and kidnapping of wives and husbands of politicians by armed bandits and kidnappers.
The statement reads: “It is very glaring and obvious that our security agencies are losing the battle and warfare against insecurity and insurgency in the Northeast and other parts of the country. What is sad about it is that the Federal and State governments are so complacent and irresponsible about the situation. It is so unfortunate and disheartening that there is no day that innocent citizens are not killed or kidnapped but we only hear of it when it concerns important personalities, traditional rulers, eminent politicians and people in government. There is no other way to describe it rather than say that the architecture of security in Nigeria has broken down and needs to be completely overhauled.
“The people of Southwest initially had high hopes about Operation Amotekun, but, regrettably, the outfit has not been effective because the state governors are under rating the role of security stakeholders like Agbekoya and others.”
Amotekun needs more empowerment—Hunters
Also speaking, President of Hunters Association, Dr. Nureni Ajijola Anobi said: “The Amotekun corps cannot adequately function without the provision of operational vehicles.
“We, hunters, have been assisting the corps since it was inaugurated, but there is a limit to what we can do if we are not mobile.
“What I think is hindering the effectiveness of Amotekun in the southwest is the lack of adequate logistics, which deal with the provision of operational vehicles. We want governments in the Southwest to empower us to function effectively.”
Our governors should stop toying with security— Faroumbi
Also speaking, former Nigerian Ambassador to the Philippines, Dr. Yemi Faroumbi berated some southwest Governor’s lukewarm attitude to the proper take-off of the Amotekun corps despite the enthusiasm the concept generated in the region.
He said: “The truth is that Amotekun has not taken root in all the states of the Southwest. If I go by the number of corps that was recruited in Oyo, 1500 people for 33 Local Government Areas, for a state that is as big as some other countries in Africa, that number may just not be adequate. I think that the Governors have to take a look at the security architecture of their state. Quite a number of them should stop toying with the idea of buying weapons for the police that they do not have control over it.”
Amotekun lacks management capacity—Erubami
Speaking on the issue, a human rights activist, Comrade Mashud Erubami, said: “I won’t say the security outfit is not effective. Certain factors will determine their effectiveness if there is good management. So, we have not seen the management capacity and we have not known their effective deployment to areas they will cover.
Our govs lack political will —YWC
Coordinator of the Yoruba World Congress, YWC, in Ogun State, Taofeek Jimoh, said: “To me, I will blame the ineffectiveness of Amotekun, the security outfit launched by all the governors in the South West of the country on January 9, 2020, on lack of political will on the part of the governors.
“Though various Houses of Assembly in the region had passed bills to give legal backing to the outfit and the bills had been accented to by the governors.
“But if Amotekun could be made to work, all its personnel would need to work in their locality, where they know the terrain and this will greatly boost the security of the region.”
Don’t expect much from Amotekun — Ebiseni
Also speaking, a former Ondo Commissioner, Sola Ebiseni said: “Nigerians have a way with hasty conclusions. Who told you Amotekun is not effective?
“The Amotekun outfit is a genuine response to regional agitation for complimentary security arrangements to the ineffective and unacceptably unitarised policing in a supposedly federation.
“What weapons are available to the toddling Amotekun in the face of a denial of support from the present Federal Government which has not been able to extricate itself from allegations of sectarianism? I am not holding brief for the effectiveness or otherwise of Amotekun.”
Rework its architecture — Ondo PDP
In his remarks, Publicly Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Ondo State, Mr. Kennedy Ikantu-Peretei said: “The concept of Amotekun was to fill the huge void occasioned by an effective Nigerian Police to address the daily security challenges of kidnapping, robberies, herdsmen menace and much more in the South West.
“I think, if Amotekun is to achieve its purpose, there is the urgent need to rework its architecture. Otherwise, they will be limited to pursuing Okada riders in the metropolis while our forests will remain largely unsafe.”