The Southwest states of Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo are insisting on the current independent structure of the region’s security network codenamed Amotekun, following moves by the federal government to delegate the control of the operations of the outfit to the Inspector General of Police.
By ‘Dare Odufowokan
Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, said on television last week that the IGP would determine the structure of Amotekun and similar outfits across the geo-political zones.
“Whatever name they go by, Amotekun or whatever, will be streamlined and they will be run in accordance with the structure as defined by the Inspector-General of Police,” Shehu had said while answering questions on the N13 billion released for community policing across the 36 states by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He added: “They will be localised, they will be owned by local communities, they will be managed by them.”
He said any arrangement that failed to conform to the national structure would not be “in the scheme of things.”
The Nation gathered on Saturday that the six states are in one accord with the chairman of the Southwest Governors’ Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu, that the zone will not surrender Amotekun to the IGP.
In his first reaction to the statement by Garba Shehu, Akeredolu, who is the governor of Ondo State, said the zone had not reached any agreement with anyone to hand over the operations and command of Amotekun to the police.
A similar sentiment was expressed by Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State.
The governor said the security agency which has legislative backing, would be controlled by the state and not any federal establishment.
Sources said on Saturday that the governors are awaiting formal briefing from the federal authorities on the hint from the Presidency.
A security adviser to one of the Southwest governors alleged behind-the-scene efforts to undermine the independence of Amotekun.
“That is just the first public statement on the issue,” the aide who does not want his name in print said.
He added: “Before that, several underground efforts had been made to curtail the independence of Amotekun. It is actually the determination of our governors to ensure a free security outfit that has taken us this far.”
The Nation also gathered that the leaderships of the legislature in the various states may have also agreed on the need to insist on allowing the Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN) to operate on the basis of the laws setting it up in each state of the region.
The resolution, it was learnt, was reached following fears that the outfit is about to be subsumed under the police by the federal government.
According to legislators who spoke with The Nation on the matter, any arrangement that takes away the independence of the outfit will not be acceptable to the Southwest.
“It is not just the opinion of Governor Akeredolu,” one of the lawmakers said.
“It is the conclusion reached by all our governors on behalf of the people of the Southwest as supported and passed into law by all the state houses of assembly in the region.
“Amotekun will remain independent. We do not need to tell you that our position is backed by law.
“And if you recall that it is the same federal government that insisted on the need for legal backing for Amotekun, you will agree with me that Garba Shehu may have just expressed a personal view.
“Nonetheless, we are not going to be caught unprepared. If you peruse the various bills passed into law by all the states, you will see that we are well prepared to defend the independence of WNSN.”
Contacted, the Commander of the Amotekun Corps in Ondo State, Adetunji Adeleye, said the outfit would not be subsumed under the community policing arrangement of the federal government.
He said: “The Amotekun Corps is a product of law. You cannot subject the structure of the Amotekun Corps to the directive of the Inspector-General of Police or any other legal entity.
“All Amotekun does is to complement all existing security agencies in the country, including the police.
“The constitution guarantees the state to also have its own security outfit so far they are backed by laws guiding their operations. There is a law put in place which has even been passed by state houses of assembly, guiding the operations of the Amotekun Corps.”
The Yoruba World Congress (YWC) on Saturday expressed support for Akeredolu and Makinde on the decision not to put Amotekun under the control of the Inspector General of Police, saying the body should not be subsumed under the police.
President General of the group, Prof. Banji Akintoye, said in a statement that the governors’ position on the issue was in the right direction.
He said: “We support the stand of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State and Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State that the Southwest security outfit codenamed Amotekun shall not be subsumed under the control of the Nigeria Police Force. “Amotekun, as rightly posited by the governors, is an independent security outfit necessitated by the clear danger of murderous herdsmen internationally accepted as terrorists, heartless bandits and sundry criminals who have turned Yorubaland into killing fields.
“It was also the failure of the existing security architecture to tackle the menace and secure life and property in the Southwest region that led to the clamour for Amotekun by the generality of our people.
“It makes no sense, therefore, to put the same Amotekun under an organisation that has proved incapable and inadequate to provide the much-needed security in the first place.”
Ekiti commences Amotekun recruitment on Monday
Recruitment of personnel by Amotekun in Ekiti State is scheduled to commence on Monday.
The Board of the State Security Network said in Ado Ekiti that the recruitment will take place across the 16 local government areas of the state, starting tomorrow at 8 am prompt.
The recruitment is sequel to the passage of the State Security Network Bill by the state House of Assembly, and signed into law by Governor Kayode Fayemi in March 2020.
The establishment of Amotekun Corps is aimed at curbing incessant killings, kidnappings, banditry, farm invasion and other heinous crimes in the state.
It advised interested persons to visit the Amotekun website for further details.