Leopards have amazing strength. In fact, they are the strongest of the big cats and possess great agility. So, it is not for nothing that the Yoruba nation, spanning six states of Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo and Lagos, dubbed their new security outfit, Western Nigeria Security Network, Amotekun (leopard). It is expected that the new group would be strong and agile in securing the region against attacks by invidious characters and invaders, who have had free rein in recent past while those in authority are ineffectual in taming the tide or pretended not to see.
There were rumours as regards whether the launch, which elicited so much excitement across all spectrum of Nigeria, would hold or not. It was rumoured that the Presidency was not well disposed to the idea and had summoned South-west governors to Abuja and ordered them to perish the thought. All that is now history, as the launch held as planned. While three governors were physically present, one was represented by his deputy but two others did not attend the event. Nevertheless, all the states contributed their own quota of the 10 operational vehicles.
Amotekun is an unavoidable child of circumstance. This was aptly captured by the Governor of Ondo State and Chairman of the Western Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu, who expressed the governors’ united resolve to ensure peace and security in the region.
He dismissed insinuations that Amotekun is a Yoruba army, adding, quite truthfully, that the barbaric acts of criminal elements in the region informed the decision of the governors to create Amotekun.
The fear of Amotekun is surely misplaced and unnecessary. In fact, the creation of this security outfit is a very welcome development, especially for regions of southern Nigeria, which have gradually been encircled by all manner of criminals, be they Fulani herdsmen, kidnappers, bandits, armed robbers and cultists. Not all these criminal elements are from the North. It is, therefore, mischievous of anybody to conclude that Amotekun targeted against the North. Whoever says so is invariably saying the North is responsible for all the criminal acts in the land.
Criminality has of late taken scary dimensions in the land. In the South-west, for instance, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and minister of finance, Chief Olu Falae, was in 2015 kidnapped by herdsmen from his farm in Akure. The elder statesman reportedly coughed out a whopping N5 million to secure his freedom. The herdsmen also launched brazen attacks on the farm many times thereafter. There have been many more similar borderless incidents, including the Diaspora Yoruba woman, who chronicled the blood chilling ordeal of her family in the hands of herdsmen in a video that went viral. Nigerians commuting through the the Ore-Benin Expressway, Akure–Ibadan Expressway as well as the Owo-Akoko route do so at great risk and fear. Even Governor Akeredolu’s convoy had had a scary encounter with the armed men but, thankfully, he escaped. The grisly murder of Funke Lakunri, daughter of Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, is still fresh in mind and, sadly, till date, her killers are yet to be arrested.
With these oddities in the land, despite security lockdown along major highways, it has become obvious that the country’s security structure is faulty, overstretched and overwhelmed. Therefore, any lawful step taken to augment what is in place should be supported.
That is why the report that the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, gave his blessings to the creation of Amotekun after meeting with all the six governors in the zone over the operations of the proposed security outfit is good news. The police boss gave his nod but insisted that the operation must be in synch with the national security policy and compatible to the national security architecture.
According to Section 14 and Section 11(2) government owes the people a duty not only to ensure their welfare and also secure the peace, order and good governance of the people. Therefore, the South-west governors, being chief security officers of their states, are in order and should be emulated by other regions of the country, especially the South East, South-south and Middle Belt, which have been at the receiving end of acts of brigandage by savages.
For the South-east, in particular, this is not the time to play good boy because there is no need for that. President Muhammadu Buhari would not be opposed to any move to secure the lives and property of the people, which is his constitutional mandate. Not to do the needful for fear of the president is ducking responsibility and dumping the blame on wrong doorsteps. As can be seen, the South-west has taken the lead and despite the rumoured opposition of the Presidency, Amotekun was launched with fanfare without the president breathing hard on anybody.
Actually, Amotekun is not different from already existing outfits, such as the Civilian Joint Task Force, formed in Borno State by a group of youth to help confront Boko Haram insurgents in the North-east.
However, in setting up any regional security outfit, one must be mindful of sections 214 and 215 of the Constitution, which only recognise the Nigeria Police Force, as the agency charged with the responsibility for securing lives and property. It is understandable then why the South-west governors met with the IGP to secure his approval. Because we run a faulty federation, regional security outfit could be misconstrued as rival security arrangement, this must go beyond mere approval. There has to be well spelt out terms of cooperation to avoid needless clashes between the conventional security outfit and Amotekun. The regional arrangement should never rival or be in any collision with the nation’s security apparatchik, otherwise, there would be crisis that would not only defeat the aim but also worsen the situation. Fortunately, if they have worked very well with CJTF in Borno, I don’t see why not in other places unless, perhaps, for reasons of sabotage.
It is heartwarming that the Amotekun promoters have allayed fears and other misgivings about Amotekun and clarified that the outfit would not conflict with the constitution. According to them, Amotekun would be a holistic security outfit, comprising the regular police, the NSCDC, the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) and the local vigilante groups, including hunters.
That is the spirit. And if that is so, the ranting of an amorphous northern group should be disregarded. The group reportedly castigated Amotekun and described it as
“OPC military wing in disguise” and a threat to peace and national security and an attempt to jeopardise Nigeria’s sovereignty. The group, obviously acting out of ignorance, warned South-west governors to desist from backing such groups as the Amotekum. This unfortunate tirade should be taken with a pinch of salt anyway, especially in this age of social media. There were also similar sentiments attributed to Arewa youths leader, Shettima Yerima, which he has since debunked and rather threw his weight behind Amotekun. The problem with the present-day Nigeria is the sharp division into lords and serfs. Whereas the lords or masters insist on their assumed right to dictate the destinies of others at their own whims, the slaves are expected to shrivel in fear. This, more than Amotekun, is what will destroy Nigeria. But, certainly, Amotekun has come to Nigeria and galloping to all the other regions. With a security outfit as this, those who feel they have a monopoly of violence would be deterred so that Nigerians can truly live in peace without fear.