Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday met with the governors of the six southwestern states of Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo and Lagos, with the resolve to draw up a legal framework for the establishment of the South-West Security Network, codenamed Operation Amotekun.
The Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, told State House Correspondents at the end of the meeting that the legal framework will help resolve all burning issues surrounding the security network.
The Federal Government had while declaring the outfit illegal, maintained that “the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) has established the Army, Navy and Airforce, including the Police and other numerous paramilitary organisations for the purpose of the defence of Nigeria.”
Vehicles and motorbikes have even been donated to the outfit.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, and the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, were part of the meeting.
While Malami declined to comment on the outcome of the meeting, saying Akeredolu will talk on the issue, he, however, said when approached off-camera on whether he will reverse his statement on the illegality of the group said: “We are on the same page.”
Akeredolu, who is the Chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum, described the deliberations behind closed doors as “fruitful.”
He said after all the issues relating to Amotekun were discussed, the meeting agreed that the legal framework should be worked out for the outfit.
Akeredolu added that the governors would return home and work out the framework accordingly.
He said: “We held a very fruit discussion, the governors of the South-West were there. The AGF and the IGP also attended. The meeting was presided over by the VP.
“We have rubbed minds and all of us agreed on the way forward. The most important thing is that we are going to have the legal framework to back this Amotekun. And this legal framework is one in which all of us will be part of.
“What I believe is that Amotekun is there. And you know the Federal Government is also starting community policing. So, we are going to work together to see that community policing and Amotekun work together.”
On why there were no consultations with the government before the states launched the outfit, the governor replied that there were consultations.
He said Malami in a statement said he was “misquoted” on his earlier stance by declaring Amotekun as illegal.
Akeredolu explained: “There were consultations with even the IG before starting Amotekun. What has developed, the noise out there, was the report that there were no consultations, but there were consultations.
“As part of the solution, we said there was going to be a political solution. So, what has happened now (the meeting with the VP) is part of the political solution.”
Asked his message to those protesting in the region of government’s plan to stop Amotekun, he said: “There was no time the government stopped Amotekun; the AGF has already spoken.
“He issued a statement and it is so clear that he said he was misquoted.”
“No, the government is not trying to stop it. The Attorney-General has spoken on that, I’m sure you have all read the statement that he was misquoted. So it’s so clear, there was no time that the government wanted to stop Amotekun and the AGF, having spoken, it’s all about us, so there is no problem.”
Meanwhile, a statement from the Vice President office said:
“Having regard to the need for all hands to be on deck in addressing the security concerns across the country, it was agreed that the structure of Amotekun should also align with the Community Policing strategy of the Federal Government.
“It was also agreed that necessary legal instruments will be put in place by each of the States to give legal backing to the initiative and address all issues concerning the regulation of the security structure,” Laolu Akande, the spokesman for the Vice President said.
The governors present at the meeting aside from Akeredolu were those of Ekiti (Kayode Fayemi); Osun (Adegboyega Oyetola); and Ogun (Dapo Abiodun).
Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was absent, while Oyo State was represented by its deputy governor.