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Intrigues Over Regional Security Outfits

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In this piece, SUNDAY ISUWA, dissects the moves by states to forge regional security outfits and the matters arising

Following the creation of Amotekun by the South-west governors, governors of South-south, South-east, North-central and North-east have also, in their respective blocs, sought to establish regional security outfits.

Recently, the North-west governors forum chaired by Katsina State governor, Hon Aminu Bello Masari, had a security meeting. Interestingly they were joined by their Kwara State (AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq) and Niger State (Abubakar Sani Bello), counterparts via mobile telephone because of the security threat they all faced.

This is in spite of the fact that the North-central zone which both governors belong to have also muted establishing same outfit.

For a country that has suffered intense security crisis since last decade, the demand for a workable system to address the situation couldn’t avoid being topical over the years.

According to reports, in 2019, abductions, suicide bombings and attacks on civilian carried out by Boko Haram persisted. It stated that at least 1,200 people died and nearly 200,000 were displaced in the Northeast in 2018. In June, at least 84 people were killed in double suicide bomb attacks attributed to Boko Haram at a mosque in Mubi, Adamawa State.

Communal conflicts between nomadic herdsmen and farmers in the Middle Belt intensified in 2018 and further exacerbated the security situation in the country. At least 1,600 people were killed and another 300,000 displaced as a result of the violence.

On 18th August 2017, ‘Idoma Voice’ had reported the dreaded Fulani herdsmen attacked Agatu community in Benue State for the second time in one month killing no fewer than seventy five people while properties worth millions were destroyed.

One of the survivor of the attack Mr. Oche Sunday said he lost everything he worked for in his life. Mr Oche, while recounting his ordeal said he lost his wife, 3 children, father, mother, brothers, sisters, house, cars, cows and other valuable properties to the attack in one day.

He said it’s pathetic till date, he couldn’t find the remains of his wife and 3kids” I have visited several hospitals and police station all to no avail” said he managed to sneak inside a septic tank while the attack lasted.

Mr Oche is a senior staff of power holding corporation of Nigeria, Kaduna State chapter who usually comes home every weekend leaving his wife and kids in Benue because of incessant killings of Book haram in the core North.

However, that was the second time in one month herdsmen attacked Agatu community. The first attack claimed over thirty four lives while properties worth millions were also destroyed.

Down South, reports of kidnappings and armed robberies was almost becoming the order of the day.

As agitations mounted over insecurity in the country, the narrative around the crisis took a new twist following the killing of the daughter of the leader of Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, Mrs Funke Olakunrin. Olakunrin was allegedly killed by bandits on Ore-Sagamu Expressway in July last year.

Angered by the killing, governors from the region and other stakeholders initiated the move to establish a security outfit. They were more assertive than their South-east counterparts who had been dilly-dallying over same idea which claim their pioneered in light of killings in the region.

Expectedly, the Amotekun initiative met with legal and political hurdles. While the federal government worried over the legal framework in light of the none availability of constitutional backing for regional or even state policing at the moment, the police, was mindful of its responsibilities being taken away from them.

There were other debates by stakeholders. While some worried that initiative was needless as the state governors would still support the police as it were by funding it, others expressed concerns about the recruitment process and independence of the outfit from the governor’s manipulation.

After much debates the grey areas were addressed as the law for the establishment of the outfit was signed at the state levels.

Some political pundits said operation Amotekun wouldn’t have evolved if the South-west was secured.

According to an analyst, Omosola Deji, the saying ‘all politics are local’ made the governors act to save their jobs by moving for Amotekun.

According to him, President Buhari can no longer contest, but five of the six governors from the South West are in their first term, apart from Governor Kayode Fayemi, who is in his second term.

He said the fear of losing reelection pushed the other five governors to act, despite the fact that four out of them are members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

However, the recent back and forth between Afenifere and the security operatives over the capture of those who killed Fasoranti’s daughter might further stretch the debate over the security situation in light of the South-west zone.

The spokesman of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin last Monday, stated that the alleged killers were said to have been arrested by the men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Ondo State Police Command.

Odumakin, who said the suspects were arrested in Ondo State, also disclosed that the driver of the deceased had also been arrested.

“We commend the dedicated officers who made the arrest just as we wait for a thorough investigation to follow.

“We have resolved to encourage the police to do their job properly. We appreciate all Nigerians who have encouraged our 94-year-old leader in this troubling season. It is our prayer that criminals will not go unpunished again in our country,” Odumakin said.

But the Police in the state have denied the report. The Police PRO Tee Leo-Ikoro, said no arrests were made.

“We will be happy to arrest the suspect but as of today the suspects are yet to be arrested by the Ondo State Police command,” Leo-Ikoro, was quoted to have said, noting in a statement that the case was still being investigated.

Odumakin in a retort faulted the claim of the police, insisting SARS made an arrest for which they came to brief Pa Fasoranti about. Leo-Ikoro, in response, said the visit was to

seek the permission to allow the driver to identify some persons arrested if they are are the suspects.

Nevertheless, although the coronavirus pandemic has taken national attention, rightly so, analysts aver that other regions who had muted the idea of regional security integration seemed hesitant over the idea before the pandemic struck.

In the South-east, after the town hall meeting in Enugu State between the governors, Police and other stakeholders which attracted some controversy, little or nothing was heard about the initiative. In the North-central and North-west they are still at the discussion stages as well.

The last that was heard about the situation in South-south was when Delta State Governor and chairman of the South-south Governors Forum, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa in an interview disclosed that most of the governors in the region have agreed to work together to tackle the security concerns.

He said, “But we thought that it would be best as a region if we come together to collaborate with ourselves, especially when we realise that we share boundaries. Talking about the issue of herdsmen/farmers clashes, they come through similar routes. They come from one state and can progress to another.”

“So, we thought that if we are able to start a regional security outfit, we will be able to co-monitor and co-share information. We will work along with the security agencies and put the initial processes that we have as individual states which will be managed as a regional outfit in such a manner that it will become more productive,” he said.

Even then, a Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators (CNDA) had criticised the move to create Amotekun type of security outfit in the region, accusing some of the South-south governors of corruption.

The group said the motive behind the security outfit is to strike perceived enemies or the opposition.

But Okowa, in a swift reaction said it was normal for people to turn whatever you do into politics even if the purpose is good.

Okowa said: “The fact is that, whatever you do, even when you mean the best for our states and the nation, you will always have a segment of people who turn it into politics and something to criticise you about.

“We cannot stop people from playing politics out of whatever we do. No matter how right you have it, even if you construct a good road to somebody’s home on account of politics, he will criticise you. So, we are not going to be deterred by the criticisms of some group of people.

“We are elected as governors to do the best we can to secure our people and to bring development to our people and that is exactly what we are doing and we do not have to take permissions from anybody.

“The police and the military already agreed that there is a lot the states are doing individually and that we have been able to bring out youths within our communities who are able to help our system at the moment in bringing out information, gather intelligence and also link them up with where they have to go to, especially in the riverine areas.”

Also, the six governors of North-eastern states who held a maiden meeting over security issue had directed their attorneys general to collaborate with security agencies towards enhancing security.

The governors of Adamawa, Borno, Bauchi, Gombe, Taraba, and Yobe states arrived at the possible solutions towards addressing the problems including insecurity ravaging their areas.

But the executive director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, said agitation over security outfit will continue.

Rafsanjani said: “The present security situation in Nigeria is worrisome and alarming. The lives and properties of Nigerians are not being protected as enshrined in the constitution.

“So, as a result of this securities has resulted to fear and uncertainty. Many groups, individuals as well as some States have lost confidence on the capacity to manage and deal with certain insecurity in the Country. Therefore, the agitation for regional security outfit and State police has become a dominate competition in the Country.

“I think if Nigeria government is serious and committed in dealing with insecurity which is possible to achieve certain measure to calm the level of increasing insecurity but some are orchestrated by people who are in government, so first government must carry out a security sector reform, “ he added.

“It has affected the economy. Both local and foreign investors are always weary on how and where to site their investments. The rate of kidnapping in the country caused a lot of uproar. Nigerians and many organisations, have raised their voices to protest the dastardly acts,” said a social commentator, Tikikus Simon.

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