Omooba Kunle Adesokan is president, Federation of Yoruba Consciousness and Culture (FYCC), a member of the Yoruba World Congress (YWC), a central body of all Yoruba. FYCC is one of the groups incorporated into Operation Amotekun (Leopard), the security outfit established on January 9, 2020, by the six governors of the South Western states of Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Ekiti.
He told Daily Sun that Amotekun was never a ploy to create Oduduwa Republic. He spoke more on this and other issues.
As an insider, can you give an insight into the making of Operation Amotekun.
Operation Amotekun is one of the cardinal agenda of the Development Agenda of the Western Nigeria (DAWN) headed by Mr Seye Oyeleye as the Director General. The commission was established about 10 years ago and her agenda is the integration of the Yoruba, devoid of the political party you belong.
One of the DAWN cardinal objectives is security. With the security situation in the country, it became necessary for the establishment of Operation Amotekun, through all the state governors in the South Western region of the country, who have already been integrated by the DAWN Commission. All of them agreed to the establishment of the Western Nigeria Security Network, known as Operation Amotekun.
Our group came together to both encourage the DAWN Commission and our state governors. Security of life and property is one of the promises made by all our political office holders before we voted them to power. We embarked on rallies and others to encourage our leaders in securing the lives and property of our people. The DAWN Commission is the actual body that engineered the establishment of Operation Amotekun.
Some critics alleged that Amotekun is a ploy to establish Oduduwa Republic. What is your take on this?
I am not unaware other ethnic groups are panicking. But I want to tell them that Operation Amotekun was established purely to secure the lives and properties of our people. There is no agenda of dividing Nigeria. Those governors and DAWN Commission did not have agenda of dividing Nigeria.
Their agenda is to protect their people, mostly from the Fulani herdsmen. These herdsmen would just enter people’s farms eat up their means of livelihood. If the farmers raised their voice, they would be killed, their wives raped and their children killed alongside others.
All those things are not acceptable in Yoruba land. Operation Amotekun has come to stay because of the maiming, killing and destroying of people’s means of livelihood, all these acts would not be tolerated in Yoruba land.
Why the choice of Amotekun as the name for the outfit?
If you look at the animal called Amotekun very well, you will discover that it looks like a crying animal, with water flowing out of its eyes. That is what Yoruba are, we are too kind, we are too accommodating; we are too lenient. We are not the set of people that jump to action unnecessarily. Amotekun is a very kind animal, but a very strong animal indeed.
Amotekun is one of the most beautiful animals in the jungle. This is an animal that can operate on the tree, on land and even in the water, so Amotekun is everywhere. Our forefathers have been using Amotekun for a very long time. Our warriors preferred using Amotekun as their hunting partner and their companions during the war.
When the organizers came up with Amotekun as a name for the outfit, the entire Yoruba and their leaders accepted it, saying, “Amotekun is not new to us in our culture.”
If you go by history, our warriors preferred Amotekun as their symbol, if you go to the palace of Alaafin of Oyo today, you will see the symbol of Amotekun there.
The outfit is well organised, Yoruba don’t just react or get angry anyhow. We did not prepare ourselves for this outfit, but we know whatever we want to do, we do it perfectly.
The problem is not actually the establishment of Amotekun, but the problem is that how is it possible for the Yoruba to come together all of a sudden to back the outfit. Our unity is their problem.
They never expected us to speak with one voice. They started asking themselves; how can Yoruba suddenly unite, after all, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State did not become the governor under the platform of the party ruling in Yoruba land?
I am the head of security of the YWC, the umbrella body that all the Yoruba groups belong to. We passed a message that at least once in a month all lawmakers must come out in attire that will connect them with Amotekun, it is only Oyo State that complied. I hope other states will follow.
We have set aside the last Saturday of the month as Amotekun Day, when we will come out in Amotekun regalia. Our women would put on Amotekun by way of headgear. Our children and market women are not left out. In Yoruba land, everybody is Amotekun.
Some chieftains of Agbekoya in Lagos State, one of the groups within the fold of Amotekun, claimed that membership of Amotekun is open to Yoruba and those who have stayed in Lagos up to 20 years. What is your reaction?
I have the privileged of hearing it, but I don’t believe it. I know that by the time Lagos State will pass the bill on Amotekun, they will expunge that clause. Anybody that is not a true born of Yoruba race can never be part of the outfit.
We believe that non-Yoruba among the Amotekun would be seen as spies. If you stay in Yoruba land more that hundred years, you are still a spy, they are not our blood, they cannot secure us. If Lagos then decides to accommodate other tribes into Amotekun, we will let them realise that you cannot turn Amotekun to a Lagos outfit alone.
There is no policy on Amotekun to accommodate other tribes like the way Lagos allows other tribes to become commissioners and other political office holders. Governance is not like security. We can never allow any other tribe to secure us. You can give anybody political appointment, but not on the issue of security.
Hisbah security outfit in the North, tell me how many Yoruba are members? How many Yoruba are IPOB and MASSOB members? Yoruba live in other parts of the country and even outside the country more than other tribes, how many Yoruba have ever ventured into the security outfits of other tribes?
What is the fate of the Yoruba in Kwara and Kogi states on this Operation Amotekun?
Geographical establishment of Nigeria has put these our people in the Middle Belt. But it is not difficult for us to identify our own blood in Kogi and Kwara. We are working on how to secure them too.
We know how to organise ourselves we know how to reach out to them. We are working on it. Amotekun will still accommodate the Yoruba in Kwara and Kogi.