Governors of the South-West geopolitical zone, on Thursday, 9 January, 2020, launched the Western Nigeria Security architecture codenamed Operation Amotekun, insisting that the security of lives and properties of the people in the zone remained paramount to them.
The Governors also clarified that the new outfit would in no way hinder the federal security agencies from performing their constitutionally-assigned duties.
They noted that Operation Amotekun was a community policing response to the security challenges in the South-West and a complementary confidence-boosting strategy to secure the territory.
The launch, which was held at the Car Park of the Governor’s Office, Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan, had in attendance the host governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde (Oyo); the Chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (Ondo); the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti); Deputy Governors of Osun and Ogun states, Mr Benedict Olugboyega Alabi and Mrs. Naimot Salako-Oyedele respectively; the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi; leader of the Yoruba World Congress, Emeritus Professor Banji Akintoye and the Director-General of the Development Agenda for South-West Nigeria (DAWN) Commission, Mr. Seye Oyeleye, among others.
A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted the Governor as noting in his welcome address that it remained a top priority for the governors of the South-West states that everyone in the region should be able to go about their legitimate businesses in a secure environment.
He added that the new regional collaborative security architecture was designed to create an appendage of local vigilantes that will feed the existing security structure in the country, insisting that the launch should not be seen in a different light than the need to fight a common enemy: unscrupulous elements hell-bent on threatening law, order and peaceful co-existence in the South-West.
The duo of Akeredolu and Fayemi, in their separate speeches, noted that the establishment of the Western Nigeria Security Network was not any way meant to rival the efforts of the Nigeria Police and other security agencies.
They declared that the new structure would be complementary to the efforts of the existing agencies.
In his welcome address, Makinde said: “It is an honour to be hosting this launch here in Oyo State alongside my colleagues.
Traditionally, human kind has always been afraid of what they do not understand.
Sometimes, people throw out revolutionary ideas because it is either they don’t understand it or are not willing to understand it. But an age-long Yoruba proverb says that when a powerful man conquers fear, even fear becomes dreadful. So, the time has come for Yorubaland to become fearful to fear.
“About six months ago, we met here in Oyo State and decided to set up a regional collaborative security agency, and I am happy to stand before you this afternoon to say that we have followed through. With our sister states: Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo and Osun, we are here in Oyo State launching Operation Amotekun, the Western Nigeria Security Network. As governors of these states, it is our priority to see that indigenes and settlers living within the boundaries of our various states can carry out their legitimate duties in a secure environment.
“The security of their lives and property should be of paramount importance. When we discuss the development potentials of our states and talk about investment opportunities and growing our internally generated revenue by exploring areas of comparative advantage, we remain keenly aware that we cannot achieve anything in a state of insecurity. So, we are here.
“Those who are afraid, I say when we assume office, we all took the oath of office and promised to be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria to follow the dictates of the constitution and protect the sovereignty of the country. For me and my colleagues, we have not forgotten our oath.
“Our regional integration, our coming together should be seen in one light and one light alone. That we are coming together to fight a common enemy, that enemy is not Nigeria but elements amongst us and their affiliates who have determined to cause commotion within the borders of our states and threaten our peaceful co-existence. As this launch proceeds today, we will find out this architecture that we have put together is in harmony with the constitution that we swore to protect.
“We will also learn that everything we have applied to do with Operation Amotekun is in line with the existing security architecture in Nigeria. All we are doing is creating an appendage of local vigilantes that will feed the current state apparatus. Personally, I am excited to be part of this history because I believe that the collaboration we are starting today will make way for other regional roads and development and will ultimately improve the lives of the citizenry.
“With this launch, Oyo State has added another feather to its cap. Today will go long in the history as the first regional security outfit in Nigeria was launched and hosted by the state of the first.”
Similarly, Governor Akeredolu, who is the chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum, assured that the new security outfit would be accountable, even as he appreciated the Nigerian Armed Forces, the Nigerian Police Force, the State Security Services, the Nigerian Security Civil Defence Corps and other security agencies for their efforts in combating various crimes till date.
Akeredolu, who maintained that the establishment of Operation Amotekun was without prejudice to the mandate of the existing federal security agencies, noted that the South-West region would continue to depend on them, especially the Nigerian Police, to discharge their responsibilities of securing the territory.
He said: “Your patriotism in safeguarding the integrity of the entire nation is acknowledged. The establishment of Amotekun is without prejudice to the expectation of patriotic discharge of your mandate as provided under our laws. We depend on you, you are not to sack your responsibility to secure our territory. You are the experts with the requisite training. Your patriotic zeal must not wane as a result of this intervention.
“It is important for us to say this. The Nigerian police must not see as it as an excuse to abandon your role. This is only complementary, you still have your roles to play, your constitutional duties are there. The Governors of the states in the Southwestern region will continue to provide logistics support that will enhance seamless operation of the Amotekun programme and the programme of other security agencies as we have been doing. We have been doing it and will continue to do it.
“Each of the six states has nothing less than 20 pickup vans, and I know of a fact that Oyo State has provided 33 vehicles. Others have over 20 and hundreds of motorcycles to take off the security network. I wish to enjoin all those that will be in charge of the vehicles and motorcycles to ensure their adequate maintenance and to ensure that there used only for the intended purposes.”
In the same vein, the Ekiti State Governor and chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Dr. Fayemi said: “I am extremely delighted on this historic occasion of the launch of the Western Nigeria Security Network. My brother, the chief host has clearly given us the genesis of this initiative, when we were daily assaulted by constraints of kidnapping, armed robbery and other social vices, across the length and breadth of western Nigeria.
“We obviously are all in the right places and the mainstream security agencies are doing their best to arrest the situation. It was in the context of this unfortunate development that we lost the daughter of our leader in Afenifere, Pa Rueben Fasoranti, and that further puts, as rightfully so, a lot of pressure on the political leadership in the South-West to do something about the fear in our communities and constituencies where people were not sleeping with their two eyes closed.
“As elected leaders of our various states, our primary responsibility, according to section 14 (2) of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 as amended is the security and welfare of our citizens. And that was what we formed, the coming together of my colleagues and I to fashion a way that we can utilize to complement the work of our mainstream security agencies that are quite over-streched in their efforts to arrest the menace that afflicted not just our zones but the entire country at a time.
“So, from six months ago, when we held our summit here in Ibadan, I am pleased that this idea whose time has come has also been embraced by the leadership of our security agencies, because the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has since gone ahead to announce the Police’s commitment to community policing strategy. And Amotekun is nothing but a community policing response to a problem that our people would like to see the back of.
“Pending the time that the community policing strategy we put together by the Nigeria Police Force comes to fruition, it is clearly important that we give our people a confidence-boosting strategy. If you ask me, Amotekun is nothing but a confidence-building strategy for our people in the six states in the Western zone.”