Amotekun: Afenifere backs govs, says no going back

Kunle Olayeni, Adewale Momoh and Adewumi Ademiju

 

  • Fayemi: Outfit in line with community policing
  • Daniel: Operation desirable

 

Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, yesterday threw its weight behind the South-West security outfit, Operation Amotekun, urging governors of the states in the zone not to bow to any pressure against the wish of the people of the region. Afenifere leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, who gave the charge, while speaking with journalists at his residence in Akure, the Ondo State capital, condemned the declaration of Amotekun as illegal by the Federal Government through the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami. This is as Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, also yesterday, defended the establishment of Amotekun, saying it is in line with community or multi-layered policing, which is very effective in safety and crime prevention.

Fayemi, stated this while delivering a paper at the Daily Trust Dialogue, with the theme: “Twenty Years of Democratisation in Nigeria: Strengths, weaknesses and Opportunities,” in Abuja. Other speakers at the were former Vice President, Arc Namadi Sambo, who chaired the event; former Governors Kashim Shettima (Borno), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Victor Attah (Akwa Ibom) and Ibrahim Shema (Katsina); ex-National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety, Hon. Lynda Ikpeazu, among others. Fasoranti, who lauded the governors for the security initiative, said: “Operation Amotekun is a welcome development, but they are being asked not to do it.

The governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, insisted that they would do it. I want them to go ahead and do it in the interest of our people. We cannot leave ourselves here and be helpless in the face of incessant onslaught.” Reacting to the pronouncement by Malami, the Afenifere leader said the minister was talking the mind of the people in the presidency as the silence of the presidency on the matter means they were behind the minister. His words: “I think he is talking for somebody.

Silence means consent; he is talking the mind of the presidency because that is what they want. It confirms the suspicion that they are trying to protect some interests here in the South-West. I agree with that too, so that they can go on and do what they like with impunity.

It is unfortunate.” While urging the governors to go ahead with the initiative, Fasoranti advised them not to be intimidated by the pronouncement of the Federal Government, saying: “It is very bad to leave our people helpless, defenceless and without any succour; without any protection.”

He added: “Though Afenifere has not met on this, I am speaking their mind. Their mind is that they (the governors) should go ahead. The governors should speak with one voice and go ahead. I am speaking for Yoruba elders too; they should go ahead.” In his defence of Amotekun, Fayemi stressed that police authorities were involved in the setting up of the security outfit.

The Ekiti State governor said promoters of the Amotekun initiative – South West governors – had made it clear that it was in response to the security challenge in the zone and that the outfit was designed to complement efforts of established security agencies. He, however, said that current debate about the legality, desirability or otherwise of the security outfit is a healthy national conversation about how to make Nigeria safer and the people more secured. His words: “The Amotekun vision is a logical end product of President Muhamnadu Buhari’s compelling vision on community policing and bottom-up approach to security sector governance across the length and breadth of the country.

“Far from being a competitor with the existing national security platforms, it aims to complement them in the areas of neighbourhood watch, information and intelligence gathering, detection of early warning signs and engaging in early response in a pro-active manner, apart from acting as liaison between the conventional security outfits and the local population.

“For those who are familiar with the mechanism of security sector reforms and transformation in democratising politics, they will readily appreciate the need for multi-faceted, multi-layered and multidimensional approaches to national policing and maintenance of law and order.

Indeed, apart from strengthening the operational and administrative capacity of security institutions and the training and retraining of security agents, the other vital component of this paradigm shift in national security calculus is the direct, logical, coherent and sequential involvement of local population and grassroots governance in national security and crime prevention. It is in recognition of the above that the Amotekun model emerged.”

A former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, who also declared support for Amotekun, described the security as desirable. Daniel, who stated that the police and other security agencies in the country appeared to be overstretched, said the establishment of the regional security outfit was in order. In a statement made available to New Telegraph, the former governor described the new security architecture as a “good initiative” meant for the protection of lives and property of people and residents of the region.

He averred that Operation Amotekun cannot be an infraction against the na-tion’s constitution. According to him, governors in their respective states are the chief executive and security officers and such right and power are derived from the constitution.

His words: “There is practically nothing wrong in establishing the regional security outfit and other similar organisations, especially since they are meant to complement the efforts of the Nigerian Police and other security agencies in the country which in practical terms appear to have been overstretched. The Nigerian Police clearly needs help at this point in time.

“On the legal and ethical controversy, I see Amotekun as putting a structure around what has been in existence for several years. In fact, the initiative of the governors brings informal security outfits under the law, so it cannot be an infraction against the constitution.

“People and communities have engaged private security concerns to protect them over the years. The governors in their respective states are considered the chief executives and security officers except you are now stripping them of the ‘executive’ titles. “By that right and power which is also derived from the constitution, they can decide what form of security architecture suitable for their states and can sign cooperative agreements with anyone and any states in pursuit of that. “States do sign cooperative agreement on joint economic initiatives; Lagos and Kebbi states produced ‘Lake Rice’ in a sort of cooperative arrangement; there have been cooperation on border towns joint development, etc.

So, I see no reasons why states cannot cooperate on security which threatens them as a people of common history and heritage. “No doubt, the South-West was gradually becoming an endangered region in terms of security of lives and properties and before this gets out of hand, a quick and organised fix like Amotekun is desirable.”

In related development, a coalition of political groups in Ondo State, yesterday, applauded the South-West governors for setting up of Operation Amotekun to tackle the spate of insecurity in the zone. The group under the auspices of Ondo State Coalition 2020, however, appealed to the governors not to be frightened by the declaration of the security outfit as illegal. Interim Chairman of the group, Prince Bamiduro Dada, who spoke at the inaugural meeting of the coalition in Akure, commended the initiative of the governors at fighting violent crimes including kidnapping, herdsmen clashes with farmers and armed robbery that have pervaded the zone in recent times.

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