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 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 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.
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.
NE 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.
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.
Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, yesterday denounced rumours making the rounds that the newly launched Western Nigeria Security Network code-named Operation Amotekun is regional police.
Fayemi who spoke in Ibadan at the launch of the security apparatus stated that the Southwest governors were not out to undermine the integrity and sovereignty of Nigeria but were providing the Yoruba people with a “confidence-building strategy” to tackle crime and criminality in the region.
The governor added that Amotekun was neither an alternative to any of the conventional security agencies in the country nor a state police.
He said rather, Amotekun would complement and work in collaboration with existing security agencies to provide adequate security of lives and property in the region.
“The Western Nigeria Security Network operation Amotekun is nothing but a community policing response to a problem that our people would like to put an end to. But pending the time that the community policing strategy being put together by the Nigeria Police comes to fruition, it is clearly important that we give our people a confidence boosting strategy.
“So if you ask me, Amotekun is nothing but a confidence building strategy for our people in the western zone. When those elements that are going to work in the joint task force with the mainstream security agencies undertake this assignment, they are going to do it with the knowledge of the terrain, language and culture of the community they are going to work.”
“Amotekun is not a duplication neither is it a replacement for the Nigeria Police Force. Amotekun is a complement that gives our people the confidence that they are being looked after by the people they elected into office. We do not want this to create fear in the mind of anyone. We are not creating a regional police force. We are not oblivious of the steps we need to follow in forming State police. We are law abiding citizens of Nigeria. We know that will require a constitutional amendment and we are not there yet”, he said.
While commending the role played by the mainstream security agencies in tackling kidnapping and banditry in the zone, the governor said Amotekun would reduce the burden on the agencies which he described as “overstretched”.
Fayemi who added that the security agencies have embraced the Western Nigeria Security Network urged Nigerians not to give room for fears which may have emanated from the propaganda circulating in the social media about Amotekun.
” We were daily assaulted by the spate of kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery across the length and breadth of the South West. We obviously sought succour in all the right places and the mainstream security tried their best in arresting the security situation. It was in the context of this development that we lost the daughter of our leader in Afenifere, Pa Fasoranti.
” As elected leaders of our various States, our primary responsibility according to section (14)2 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, is the security and welfare of our citizens and that’s what informed the coming together of my colleagues and I to fashion a way that we can utilise to complement the work of our mainstream security agencies that are quite overstretched in their efforts to curb the menace that has afflicted not just our zone but the entire country at the time”, he said.
In his speech, the Chairman of the Western Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ondo State, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu said the governors are united in their resolve to ensure peace and security in the region.
Akeredolu stated that the south west governors cannot erect “an antagonistic structure whose template is against existing security apparatus”.
He said the ” barbarism” displayed by criminal elements in the region gave the governors grave concern which necessitated the security platform.
The governor stressed that he and his colleagues believed in the unity of Nigeria because the nation’s “strength is in unity”.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, Governor Seyi Makinde had stated that development cannot take place in a state of insecurity.
He added that Amotekun would protect the lives and property of indigene and non indigene.
Osun State Governor, Mr Gboyega Oyetola who was represented by his Deputy, Benedict Alabi thanked the service chiefs for their support in tackling insecurity in the region.
He assured that Amotekun would work in collaboration with all security agencies.
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