Nigeria’s southwest governors launch new security network

Olubunmi Osoteku, Ibadan 

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Governors of the Southwest zone in Nigeria have launched the Western Nigeria Security Network code-named, “Operation Amotekun”, while unanimously declaring their commitment to the security of lives and property of the citizens in the zone.

Explaining that the new outfit would in no way hinder the federal security agencies from performing their constitutionally-assigned duties, the governors noted that Operation Amotekun was a community policing response to the security challenges in the Southwest and a complementary confidence-boosting strategy to secure the territory.

The launch, held at the Car Park of the Governor’s Office, Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan, had in attendance the host Governor, Seyi Makinde (Oyo); the Convener and Chairman, Southwest Governors’ Forum, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (Ondo) and the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti).

Also present were the Deputy governors of Osun and Ogun states, Benedict Olugboyega Alabi and 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.

In his welcome address, the host, Governor Makinde, noted that that it remained a priority for the governors of the Southwest states that everyone in the region should be able to go about their legitimate businesses in a secure environment.

He said, “As this launch proceeds today, we will find that this architecture we have put together is in harmony with the Constitution that we swore to protect. We will also learn that everything we have outlined to do with 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.”

Makinde asserted that the regional integration should be seen as the coming together of the states to fight a common enemy, which is not Nigeria, but the elements, and their affiliates, who are determined to cause commotion within the borders of the states and threaten the peaceful coexistence.

Also, Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Kayode Fayemi, noted in his goodwill message that Amotekun would never serve as duplicate or replacement for the Nigeria Police Force and is not an attempt to create a regional police force that would undermine the nation’s integrity and unity.

Fayemi disclosed, “Amotekun is nothing but a community policing response to a problem that our people would like to see the back of…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.”

Delivering his keynote address, the Convener and Chairman of the Southwest Governors’ Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, appreciated the regular forces and security agencies for their efforts in combating various crimes till date, maintaining that the establishment of Operation Amotekun was without prejudice to the mandate of the existing federal security agencies.

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 shirk 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.”

Akeredolu noted that motorcycles are also part of the equipment to be deployed to complement the vehicles for the Operation, emphasising that there would be vigilance to ensure that Operation Amotekun was not used by any of the state governors for personal interests or political purposes.

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Goodwill messages were also received from the Governor of Osun State, who was represented by his deputy, as well as the leader of the Yoruba World Congress, Prof. Banji Akintoye.

The Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, who represented other traditional rulers at the event, applauded the initiative while stressing that regional interest should always precede political interest at all times.

The newly launched Amotekun was as a  result of an understanding reached by Southwest governors in June 2019, at a security summit facilictated by the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission, to address the reccurring cases of killings, kidnappings and banditry almost ravaging the region.

Ime Njoku