•Hunters boss calls for more use of Juju
Ola Ajayi, Ibadan
The advent of the Western Nigeria Security Network, Amotekun when kidnapping, rape, armed robbery and destruction of lives and property had reached its peak in the six states of the South West was received with a wild jubilation by people within and outside the country.
Since it came on board, the initiative which was midwifed by governors of Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Lagos, Ekiti and Ondo States, actually doused the tension that had reached an unspeakable height in the zone.
Farmers had abandoned their means of livelihood while traders, both men and women, were afraid of being robbed or raped by the marauding herders who now see kidnapping as a more lucrative business. The gaunt-looking herders turned killers were everywhere unleashing terror on the people.
For about three months or more after the inclusion of the outfit in the security architecture of each state, all the vices reduced considerably though there are still pockets of the ungodly acts in some of the states.
Hunters, Agbekoya, Sunday Igboho fault recruitment process
Some of the groups like Soludero Hunters Association led by Wahab Nureni Ajijola Anabi and Agbekoya had earlier pointed out that it was a serious mistake for the outfit to recruit its operatives based on paper qualification when those who can really do the job are local people.
Sunday Adeyemo aka Igboho, a popular Yoruba freedom fighter said, “Amotekun should be for local traditionalists who are traditionally fortified. Government is supposed to involve Are Onakakanfo and other traditionalists like OPC, Agbekoya, local hunters and if I am invited, I’m ready to render help. I have men who can assist if situation gets out of hands”.
Another challenge facing the outfit is the seeming uncooperative attitude from the conventional security agencies such as police. Though, there has been no confrontation between the two agencies, the police have not hidden the fact that they do not support Amotekun.
This showed when some suspected robbers were arrested by Amotekun and handed over to the police. The latter rejected the suspects on the grounds that they had been wounded before bringing them and that the suspects could die in their custody.
The body language of the Presidency, according to one Amotekun operative, is another source of concern for them saying the Federal Government was trying to whittle down the power of the security outfit by refusing to approve firearms for them.
Amotekun, however, managed to overcome this by resorting to the use of charms.
Speaking on the need for all the groups and associations to come together and address the insecurity problem, the Special Adviser to Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State on Security Matters Fatai Owoseni who is a former Commissioner of Police in Lagos and Benue States noted that, “the division among the associations and groups is another big challenge. You will see Agbekoya, Oodua Peoples Congress breaking into factions, while hunters are also divided. This cannot help us at all. Let’s join forces to solve this problem.”
Firearms vs charms
Speaking on the efficacy of charms, the National President of Soludero Hunters Association, Oba Wahab Nureni Ajijola Anabi said, “in the olden days, our forefathers did not use any guns to ward off attacks but they used charms and those charms are still with us. If they say we should not use guns, it doesn’t stop us from doing our job.”
In further demonstration of the efficacy of the charms, Chief Sunday Adeyemo aka Igboho said when armed Fulani herders tried to shoot him, he dared them because he knew the gun would not do any harm to him. He said, “When I got to Seriki’s residence, one of my boys drew my attention that a Fulani man had pointed a gun at me, I approached and dared him to shoot. We then took the gun from him”.
Records of achievements
The heroic deeds of the Amotekun operatives have reverberated across the zone especially in Osun, Ekiti and Oyo States. In Oyo, they foiled several kidnap attempts and stormed some hitherto dangerous places where conventional security agencies had avoided in Ibarapa North, Ibarapa East, Ibarapa Central and Iwajowa Local Governments. Some are now armed with their own weapons. They had engaged the kidnappers in a gun duel which recorded casualties on both sides.
Recently, in Tapa, Igangan, Ayete, Ibadan metropolis, their effectiveness was largely commended by the people. After arresting some of the suspected criminals, they handed them over to the police.
Expectedly, their activities have also received knocks from the people. While some residents praised them, others accused them of extra-judicial killings. Some weeks ago, some students took them up on the killing of their colleague who the outfit claimed was a cultist and an armed robber.
Opposition discrediting Amotekun —Oyo Commissioner
The Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, in the state, Dr. Wasiu Olatubosun has described the barrage of criticisms against the Amotekun security outfit as the handiwork of the opposition bent on disparaging the achievements of the Seyi Makinde-led administration.
He said the security outfit that just started operation in the state should be given time to get further technical and administrative strength in policing the rural areas in the state, even though members of the corps have achieved immensely in curbing crime since they came on board.
The Commissioner said, “they are making statements to discredit all that Amotekun has been able to achieve within the short time it came into existence in Oyo State. Before we launched Amotekun, there were cases of banditry, kidnapping and robbery being reported, but the moment Amotekun came, the operatives have virtually checkmated these criminals. The corps members were given the necessary things to make them succeed, only for those who are not comfortable with the performance of Governor Seyi Makinde to start sponsoring bad agenda against the security effort of the government. We all asked for this security approach, why do they need to shoot it down instead of calling attention to areas that need amendments. No matter their motive, it only shows that they do not have the interest of this state at heart.”
Also a youth organization from Oke-Ogun zone, Alliance For Oke-Ogun Development in a letter written to the State government and signed by its National Coordinator, Otunba Abiodun Fasasi, called on all indigenes of Oyo State not to jeopardize the efforts of the South-West governors that gave birth to the ‘Western Nigeria Security Network’ code-named Amotekun, adding that every citizen of Oyo State, no matter the party, religious or ethnic alignment, should support the security outfit.”
“We want the state to strive to put in place a better communication strategy for the Amotekun and allocate more funds for its smooth operations. We are looking at an outfit that has achieved so much in short period, there will be opposition to its operations, some people will want to use apparatus and other instruments within their powers to discredit and rubbish its operations, our governor should go all out to make this project work,” Fasasi pleaded.
Another aide of the governor, Mr Jide Ajani alleged that the outfit was being slaughtered on the altar of ethnicity so as to destroy it. “And because they failed in their bid to stop the launch of Amotekun, they have now resorted to twisting facts and creating their own bubble of alternative and fictional reality. They will fail again as they failed before. “That Amotekun which strategically launched six counter-banditry, counter-kidnapping and counter-terrorism operations in four local governments, simultaneously, on Saturday, deserves credit. Yet, more deserving of credit is the inclusive nature of the rainbow coalition that went after the criminals. If the intention is to dampen the morale of corps members, it will fail. If the plot is to paint Oyo State or parts of Yorubaland as ungovernable, they will equally fail. There are gaps being filled in the bid to make Amotekun more responsive and professional and Governor Seyi Makinde, has assured of that.”
Challenges of Amotekun
When discussing the achievements and challenges of the outfit, the Chairman of Amotekun in the state, General Kunle Togun (retd) who had been reluctant to speak said security issues are shrouded in secrecy and should be taken as such. But, in another forum, he briefly stated one of the challenges of the security agency saying, “Our boys are highly inexperienced. I am employing the services of seasoned native hunters who are assisting our boys”.
“What people should understand is that this is a security agency and security operations are secret. So, we can’t be revealing our plans because people will sabotage them”.
On the challenges confronting the agency, he said that they would be made public in a press briefing at a later date. We shall give details of what is happening, our challenges and what we expect from people. Some of the achievements we have made are not known to people because we don’t talk. We have credible evidence that they are not Nigerians. We will show the whole world all their activities and those Nigerians who are supporting them in gaining entry into the country”.
Miyetti-Allah launches Vigilance Group in Oyo
Speaking with Saturday Vanguard, the State Chairman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association Alhaji Ibrahim Abubakar Jiji hinted that his men had also launched a vigilance group, which he said, was saddled with the responsibility of arresting hoodlums who camouflage as Fulani herders.
It was this Vigilance Group of 50 men, he said, that Operation Burst arrested and mistaken for hoodlums.
Saturday Vanguard called a highly ranked officer of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps who said the group did not go through the mandatory registration process.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Gbenga Fadeyi confirmed the arrest of the Fulani men saying they have been transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Iyaganku, Ibadan.
PPRO said “the arrested Fulani men have been transferred to SCID Iyaganku, Ibadan for discreet investigation. The Fulani men however claimed they were trailing some kidnappers who were about to collect ransom from relations of a kidnapped victim.”
But a source claimed the men who were arrested at Ofiki River along Tapa/Igangan road in the Ibarapa North Local Government Area of the state were invited by their kinsmen to strike in the area following the raid by men of Amotekun.
In his own comments, a member of Oodua Peoples Congress, Olanrewaju Ogedengbe, confirmed the story that they were arrested in a convoy of buses and after their buses were searched; sophisticated weapons such as guns, bows, and arrows, charms, catapults, and bullets were found. Those arrested said they were brought from Ilorin, Iseyin and other places.”
Yoruba elders kick against Fulani Vigilance Group
The Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) has kicked against the formation of a Vigilante group in the South West zone. Unless these excesses are checked, the elders said the security system in the zone would be in shambles. YCE, through its Secretary General, Dr Kunle Olajide argued that it was illegal for Fulani to form such group in another state.
While calling on governors in the zone and the State Houses of Assembly to make a law forbidding such illegality, he said, “I will direct my message to the state Houses of Assembly and the governors to do the needful. How can such an illegality take place? They should make a law banning such insult.
“This is the way to go so that our security system in the zone will not be messed up”, YCE scribe said.