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How Southwest security outfit Amotekun will tackle crime

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At the height of criminality across the six Southwest states last July, the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission held a security summit, which produced the idea of an unconventional regional security outfit that will root out criminals and criminality from the six states: Oyo, Osun, Lagos, Ondo, Ogun and Ekiti. The outfit, which is codenamed Amotekun, will be inaugurated in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital tomorrow. Southwest Bureau Chief BISI OLADELE highlights the details of the outfit and how it intends to make residents sleep with their two eyes closed.

 

The nation will tomorrow witness the birth of an innovative regional security outfit, Amotekun, in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

Perhaps the first of its kind in Nigeria, Amotekun will add to the rich history of Ibadan as the city of the firsts, having hosted Africa’s first television station, first skyscraper, first stadium, and first university, among others.

Amotekun is a security outfit jointly established by governors of the six states that make up Southwest Nigeria. They are Oyo, Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Osun and Ekiti.

The inauguration will be presided over by Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), who is the Chairman, Southwest Governors’ Forum.

He will be joined by the host governor Seyi Makinde; Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti); Adegboyega Oyetola (Osun); Dapo Abiodun (Ogun) and Babjide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos).

The idea came through three-day technical sessions by experts of Southwest origin. The idea was conceived out of the need to jointly tackle increasing criminal activities, including kidnapping and armed robbery, in the region.

It was thought that a single state will battle criminals in vain as contiguous states will readily serve as safe haven for them, if they are not involved.

 

Amotekun

Amotekun is the Yoruba name for leopards, a carnivorous big cat with strong bones and jaws. They have a running speed average of 58 kilometer per hour.

Leopards hunt down their preys in the same manner as lions and tigers. They are feared in Yoruba land because of their strength, speed and carnivorous nature.

The name was carefully chosen to convey the above attributes which are believed will send the right signals to criminals.

Membership and  structure

Membership of the outfit comprises vigilante groups operating within each state, security experts and statutory security agencies such as the police and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps.

Though a regional outfit, each state will have its own Amotekun in the form of a state police command. They will operate from a given base in each state.

There will also be local government organs, which will coordinate Amotekun activities in each local government. But, the six state commands will relate with the regional command to which each has contributed vehicles equipped with security and communication gadgets.

The regional command will operate from the control centre in Ibadan, and will work closely with the DAWN Commission, which provides administrative supervision to the project.

Amotekun will be funded by the state governments with support from their security trust funds. The Commissioner of Police in each state will oversee Amotekun.

Operational guidelines

As at press time yesterday, governors and police bosses were still perfecting the document that will serve as the operational guidelines for the outfit.

While the governors were interacting on funding and management, commissioners of police and the three Assistant Inspectors General of Police (AIG) in the region were firming up the technical aspects to prevent inter-agency rivalry and clashes over leadership and superiority among members during patrol and other operational activities.

The Nation learnt that the states have recruited many of the unconventional security personnel.

As a local collaborative measure, Amotekun will gather information about crimes and suspicious activities for interpretation and proper action, including prevention, management or counteraction.

It will undertake routine patrols in parts of highways in the region, which police are unable to adequately cover day and night. Working with traditional rulers, its activities will also permeate local communities to keep an eye on suspicious residents, visitors and non-residents coming for business or related activities.

The outfit will deploy technology in its operations, including geographical mapping and security drones.

By gathering intelligence and sharing it with the police and other statutory security agencies, it is believed that these security measures will help improve community peace and security all over the region.

The inauguration of the outfit is expected to have sent jitters down the spines of criminals who have returned to their trade, particularly in Ondo State in the last one month.

The bandits may have explored the room created by the slight delay in the inauguration of the outfit, which was due since last October.

When contacted yesterday, the AIG Zone 11, Leye Oyebade, declined comment on the outfit. He said facts about it will be made know during tomorrow’s inauguration.

The Director-General, DAWN Commission, Mr Seye Oyeleye, was also unavailable for comments.

Police involvement

The Nigeria Police is a key stakeholder in Amotekun’s operations. The force will offer services in the area of security clearance for those to be recruited as members, exercise the legal power of arrest and prosecution and also provide technical training and back-up for the outfit.

Zonal APC on initiative

The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Southwest has hailed the six governors on the birthing of Amotekun.

The zonal leadership of the party lauded the six governors, endorsing the airing of its administrative headquarters in Ibadan, which used to be the capital of the defunct Western Region.

 

In a statement by the APC Zonal Publicity Secretary,  Karounwi Oladapo, the party observed  that the governors hearkened to its call to rise to the occasion in the wake of kidnapping and other criminal activities in the zone.

He said the governors’ bold response has manifested in the prompt actions taken by them and other critical stakeholders that brought the abductions to the bearest minimum in the region.

Oladapo said: “The strategic approach of the governors to deliver on their mandates of securing the lives and property of the Yoruba people was responsible for the purchase of security vehicles, motorcycles, communication gadgets and the coordination of the conventional security agencies and unconventional security outfits, preparatory to the launch that we are about to witness.

The APC leadership urge the people of the South West to cooperate with the personnel of the Amotekun and provide them credible intelligence to enable them perform optimally.

The ultimate goal is that our people must sleep with their two eyes closed, move from one place to the other without fear of abduction and making the South West Region a destination of choice for investors.”

Similarly, the party’s National Vice Chairman and the South West APC Zonal Caucus Chairman, Pastor Bankole Oluwajana,  said: “The Western Region has always been a pacesetter in developmental initiatives.

We therefore urge the neighbouring regions of South South, South East and North Central to replicate this security approach in their regions so that the flushed out criminals in the South West Region will not see their states as safe haven where they can hide and launch attacks on our border towns”

The National Leader of the Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Egbe Afenifere Ilosiwaju Yoruba, Pa Ayo Fasanmi , has commended the governors.

The nonagenarian, who spoke in Osogbo through his media assistant, Temitope Adebayo, stressed that the good moves made by the governors showed that they were concerned about the well-being of the people they are governing irrespective of political differences.

He described it as a good sign to other regions in Nigeria.

“Yoruba can speak with one voice when it comes to the development of the region regardless of differing political party references. That is most laudable and heartening” he said.

Fasanmi also pleaded with the security agencies to work together in concretising the creation of the outfit.

He said: “This should become a salient reality in the region,” he said, adding: “all the local police, like OPC, local hunters who are attached to the government security, should make sure that they do their jobs competently without compromise.”

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