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National security agencies backed Amotekun, says Fayemi

By Segun Olaniyi, Sodiq Omolaoye (Abuja), Ayodele Afolabi (Ado Ekiti), Rotimi Agboluaje (Ibadan) and Kehinde Olatunji (Lagos)
17 January 2020   |   4:15 am
As criticism continues to trail the Federal Government’s declaration of Operation Amotekun illegal, the Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, yesterday disclosed that the national security agencies were properly informed before the establishment of the South-West security outfit

Kayode Fayemi

IPOB, others declare support, urge FG to review stance

As criticism continues to trail the Federal Government’s declaration of Operation Amotekun illegal, the Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, yesterday disclosed that the national security agencies were properly informed before the establishment of the South-West security outfit. He said the conventional security agencies were carried along and had agreed to support the operation of the joint security organisation.

Fayemi, who is also the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), spoke at the 17th edition of the Daily Trust Dialogue in Abuja.
According to him, Amotekun is not a duplication or replacement for the Nigeria Police but was established to complement the existing security agencies.

The Federal Government had through the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, proclaimed the joint security outfit as illegal.Malami said that the establishment of army, police and other security outfits was on the exclusive list which could only be exercised by the Federal Government.

But Fayemi argued that while some commentators see conflict in the establishment of Amotokun, the move would further deepen public debate on the idea of community policing. “We see Amotekun as a logical end product to the community police debate. That is why we say it is to complement the police in response to security challenges, information gathering and so on. In the process of doing this, the conventional security agencies were taken along and they have agreed to collaborate with us.

“They agreed that there is a need for multi-dimensional solutions to our security challenges, the paradigm shift which is the direct involvement of local population and government in the grassroots for protection. It is a model open to public scrutiny in improving the quality of the protection of the people,” he said.

Meanwhile, more groups from within and outside the country have urged the Federal Government to reverse its decision on Amotekun.In a statement yesterday, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Scandinavia countries, said Amotekun stood to be of immense benefit for the overall security of the country.

“The creation and launch of Amotekun by the Southwest governors should be encouraged.“No Nigerian needs further explanation or narrative for the creation of Amotekun by the chief security officers of the Southwest region of Nigeria. The insecurity challenges across Nigeria seem to be overwhelming for only security agencies alone to handle as of now.

“The governors already made it known that the outfit was established not as an arm of the security forces in Nigeria, but it is a joint neighbourhood security outfit to make security of lives and property easier in the region.“We appeal to the Federal Government to think of it more from a holistic perspective and see it for what it is, encourage it, develop appropriate strategies to ensure the effectiveness of the outfit and jettison whatever fear they may have,” the group said.

The National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), in a statement in Enugu by its National Public Relations Officer, Mr. Bestman Okereafor, described the Amotekun’s structure, which is from the village hunters to other known vigilance groups working together in line with the Nigeria Police, as presenting the best form of community policing.

According to the NYCN, this grassroots-oriented and bottom-up structured as well as all-involving security framework, which Amotekun presents, is the ideal framework for modern policing to checkmate emerging criminality in rural and remote communities.In a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the group said: “Nigerian youths consider the Federal Government’s position on this matter as unfair and not in line with the principle of egalitarianism being preached by the present APC-led administration.

“As progressive-minded Nigerian youth leadership, we expect the Federal Government to compliment the effort of the South-west governors rather than an outright rejection and condemnation of the security outfit,’’ he said.The NYCN urged all South-west residents and Nigerian youths at large to remain calm and be peaceful as ever “even as we await the position of the South-west governors and their consultations with the Federal Government on the matter.”

Another group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), urged the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), heads of security forces, and especially the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu, to be careful so they don’t convey the express impression that the security of the lives and property of people outside Northern Nigeria is not sacrosanct and constitutionally guaranteed.

HURIWA reminds the AGF and the IGP that Nigeria is a political entity based on the principle of democracy and social justice and, therefore, the security and wellbeing of all persons in Nigeria should be of primary priority since the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government as enshrined in section 14(2) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended).

In a statement, the human rights group affirmed that “the subtle and sometimes open threats to antagonize; open/hidden disapproval and boycotting of the security initiative inaugurated by the governors and people of south west (Amotekun) as displayed by heads of security establishments at the centre which synchronized with the opposition expressed by a section of the Northern Youth Council, and the threats by the police to clamp down on the operatives of the newly established security platform of the South West of Nigeria is creating the impression that there is indeed a set of Nigerians whose security is not of topmost priority to the holders of central governmental authorities.”

In the statement by the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, yesterday in Abuja, the group said “such hostile attitudes to the setting up of the south west security initiative is unlawful, unconstitutional and an aberration.” HURIWA also reminded the heads of security forces that they are “not in public offices to carry out only such instructions that exclusively favour a section of the country based on religious/ethnic or pedestrian considerations.”

The group reminded President Muhammadu Buhari that the reason section 14(3) of the Nigerian constitution spells out adherence to the federal character principle in all strategic appointments by the central government is to “guard against this sort of ‘Northern agenda’ being exhibited in the opposition by heads of security forces and police to the southwest security initiative which the generality of the people of southwest, including other non-Yoruba speaking citizens living in the south west, have welcomed with open hands.”

Also, the Ekiti Council of Elders (ECE) implored the Federal Government to fashion out harmonious working relationship between the Amotekun and other zones or state arrangement targeted at protecting Nigerians with its security agencies.The elders, while reacting to the proclamation by Malami that Amotekun was illegal, wondered whether such a position “actually represents the true feelings of the Federal Government.”

In a statement in Ado Ekiti yesterday signed by the ECE President, Professor Joseph Oluwasanmi; General Secretary, Niyi Ajibulu; and Public Relations Officer, Dr Bayo Orire, the council said the Federal Government was expected to be exploring all reasonable avenues towards securing the safety of lives and property of its citizens.The council also reiterated calls for a national dialogue towards running the nation as a federal system.

“The Ekiti Council of Elders has lent its weight behind the southwest governors for establishing the Amotekun outfit. The council salutes the courage of the governors for rising stoutly to the security challenges that engulfed the entire zone.“The council views the respite recorded in the past few months from the marauders, herdsmen and other opportunistic elements as due to the pro-activeness of the governors, our traditional institutions and the collective efforts of the people.

“As far as security issue is concerned, the council strongly considers that Fayemi has been advocating and remarkably implementing the wishes of Ekiti people. A situation whereby free movement and access to our farm steads are no longer guaranteed is totally unacceptable,” the statement read in part. The Yoruba Youth Socio-cultural Association (YYSA) Worldwide said Operation Amotekun had nothing to do with politics.

In a statement made available to The Guardian in Ibadan by its National President, Olalekan Hammed, the group said: “Amotekun security outfit launched by southwest governors has nothing to do with politics. It was done with undefiled intention to put an end to unending menace of criminals that had been unleashing terror continuously in the southwest region. “Important personalities, including northern governors have lauded the idea, vowed to emulate our region by setting up similar security outfit to curtail criminality in the north.”

The Oyo State chapter of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), said it was in support of Amotekun.Its chairman, Ayodeji Abass-Alesinloye, who spoke at the new year get-together and review of 2019 activities held at the association’s office, Ibadan, said the association would support any move geared towards protecting lives and property.

“On the topical issue of Operation Amotekun, let me state here that ALGON in Oyo State supports it as we have been doing to create and support any move to address meaningfully the security of life and property as this is the fundamental objective and duty of government at all levels, because without security, there cannot be governance or development.“We, however, wish to appeal to South-West governors to subject the operation of Amotekun to democratic control and management of communities and local government authorities as elected representatives of the grassroots for the security outfit not to be abused and misused.

“The governors should also look at all genuine complaints and suggestions to make Amotekun generally acceptable so as to achieve its goal of providing complementary security to all.”The Vice-Chairman of Ibadan branch of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Ibrahim Lawal, blasted the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore over its statement asking southwest governors to withdraw their support for Amotekun.

In an interview with The Guardian in Ibadan yesterday, Lawal said the statement that the governors’ continued support for Amotekun might hurt the southwest’s chances of getting the presidency in 2023 was unfortunate.“Are they the ones to determine who will get the ticket? What is their population? We are talking about safeguarding the lives and property of the people, they are talking about someone wanting to be president. How does it affect us? We are saying we don’t want anybody to kill our people, you are talking about 2023, are they saying we should not protect ourselves because of 2023 election? Are they the ones responsible for insecurity in the southwest? What is their interest?” Lawal queried.

The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, pledged maximum support for Amotekun, saying the outfit had come to stay regardless of the Federal Government’s stance on it.The IPOB leader, in a statement, praised the initiators of the outfit, describing the arrangement as laudable. He assured the southwest of the readiness of his movement to provide the necessary manpower to the outfit.

“The final and definitive stance of the Biafran people is that IPOB will support Operation Amotekun with all our might.“Regardless of the history of politics that may have existed between the East and the West in the past, we have sworn to work with this generation of Yoruba leadership, with the likes of Pa Ayo Adebanjo, Yinka Odumakin, Femi Fani-Kayode and Omoleye Sowore at the helm.

“I will support this generation of Yoruba that set up Amotekun. IPOB will work with them. If they want one million men, I will provide them to ensure this expansionism is stopped. IPOB will back Amotekun security outfit. Amotekun is not going anywhere. It is here to stay and IPOB will support it.”