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January 11, 2021
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AMOTEKUN :ONE YEAR AFTER O! -SECURITY IN YORUBA LAND!

January 11, 2021
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Amotekun: One year after, how fares the leopard?

FEATURESOn Jan 10, 2021

‘Yomi Ayeleso and Hakeem Gbadamosi report that for the past one year, the South Western Nigeria Security Network with the codename Amotekun has been a relative success, especially considering security at the grassroots, though there are also challenges.

Yesterday (Saturday, December 9) marked exactly one year since the South-West Security Network popularly known as Amotekun was launched. It was the region’s response to several cases of killings and kidnappings which involved notable personalities and their family members.

The official launch which took place in Ibadan got some feathers ruffled in Abuja where the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said it was an illegal outfit.

After a series of arguments for and against, the legal framework was eventually fine-tuned and put in place to establish the local security agency in their respective states. However, the COVID-19 lockdown across the country slowed down the full implementation, recruitment and commencement of operations of the outfit.

However, while Amotekun has since begun its operations in Osun, Ekiti, Ondo and Oyo states, Lagos and Ogun are bringing up the rear. Ogun State is expected to launch the security outfit this month, while Lagos is yet to set up the operational structures, as the bill backing it up is yet to be accented to by the governor ten months after.

Investigation by Sunday Tribune showed that the state’s House of Assembly on March 3, 2020 unanimously passed the bill which sought to unify the proposed law that would guide the operations of the security outfit.https

The state is, however, sustaining its neighbourhood security arrangement known as Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC), headed by a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police, Israel Ajao. It became operational on March 31, 2017, during the administration of former governor Akinwunmi Ambode and has achieved modest success.

Also last Tuesday, the state government launched another community policing initiative, the constabulary, to support existing efforts to police the state where 1,250 special constabulary officers were deployed for community policing, following the conclusion of their training, at Police College, Ikeja.

However, in the case of Amotekun, Ekiti State was to bell the cat in October 2020 when it launched the security outfit with the recruitment of 393 personnel. According to the Amotekun corps commander in the state, Brigadier General Joe Komolafe (retd), the effort has been a success story in the last one year.

Latest of such achievements is the rescue of two victims who were kidnapped on Christmas Day on the Isan-Iludun-Ekiti road. While Oluwaseun Fatile, one of the victims was promptly rescued, his cousin, Happiness Ajayi, was rescued three days later in a forest in Kwara State.

“No doubt, we have done a lot since our inauguration in Ekiti State last October. Although there were pockets of crimes during the period under review, it must be said that we have cleared our forest of the criminals.https://

“If you move around our major highways, you will see our men on patrol and we are arresting kidnappers in the forest and handing them over to the police for prosecution,” he said.

Komolafe, however, said the expectations of residents from the security outfit were high in view of security challenges in their localities, calling on them to provide timely information on strange movements and happenings in their domains.

According to him, the job of modern-day policing across the world has gone digital, saying there is need for the operatives to be equipped with more modern-day technology to prevent and reduce crimes.https://

A resident, Mr Sunday Afolabi, while appraising the security outfit said government must as a matter of urgency increase the number of Amotekun personnel for effective security of lives and properties.

“I can say we have felt their positive impact since the launch in October last year but more people must be employed into the corps. You can imagine just 393 personnel are currently with the agency in Ekiti State and we have 16 local government areas.

“If you do your calculations, you will see that we have just 24 personnel in each of the council areas, which is clearly not enough considering the level of job they want to do. Government must do something in this regard this year for Amotekun to achieve more in terms of securing our forest and highways,” he stated.

Need to bear arms

Of importance, despite the success of Amotekun in Ekiti State is the worry that unless the personnel are allowed to carry arms, they may not be able to function optimally. Lending their voices to the argument, Ekiti State Council of Elders recently advised South West governors to engage the Federal Government on the matter so that operatives of Amotekun could begin to bear firearms.

The group in a statement jointly signed by its president, Professor Joseph Oluwasanmi; the Public Relations Officer, Dr Bayo Orire and the General Secretary, Mr Niyi Ajibulu in Ado-Ekiti, said: “Of more concern is the non-approval of firearms for the organization in spite of the proliferation of arms across the country and with the ubiquity of bandits that Amotekun will have to contend with.

“Council wishes the Governors to continue to dialogue with the Federal Government so as to properly equip Amotekun, particularly in the area of firearms. The State Governments (South West) that have been the major financiers of Federal Government security agencies in their states should draw a line and concentrate more on providing equipment and gadgets for surveillance for Amotekun over which they have complete control,” the group stated.

Same in Ondo, Osun states

The achievements of Amotekun in Ondo State are no less remarkable. The state Commander of the Amotekun Corps, Chief Adetunji Adeleye, says the security outfit has come to stay, adding that it has been able to stem the crime rate in the state.

“So far, I make bold to say that we’ve improved the security situation of the state from what it was in the last few months, especially in the area of bringing about sanity against the backdrop of the incessant quarrels between farmers and herdsmen, kidnappings and armed robberies. I think the situation is a lot better.

“You’ll recall that about two months ago, within one week, we recorded over 15 robbery cases in Akure, the state capital, which had never happened before in the state. We appealed to the state government to impose a ban on the use of motorcycles at night and the government acceded to it.

“Between the time they stopped and now, criminal activities have reduced by over 80 percent because out of the 15 robbery cases at that time, 13 of them were carried out with the use of motorcycles; the robbers escaped by motorcycles. But now, at night, sanity is actually coming back and the situation is better.”

“Since we started Operation Clean-Up about a month ago, we’ve arrested about 120 criminals. Some of them, we sent to the police, some to the NSCDC and some to the Department of State Services for more diligent investigation and prosecution. There has not been any successful kidnapping in the northern senatorial district in the last four weeks because immediately after the killing of a monarch on that axis, we posted out a 24-hour patrol (team) to four local government areas, including Akoko, Ose and Owo,” he said.

Echoing the situation in Ekiti State, the commander said manpower and better equipment in form of sophisticated weapons was much needed, adding that “We give kudos to them (state government), but we still want more and to the Federal Government, we want them to empower us to be able to face the security challenges by providing the same kind of sophisticated weapons that is allowed for other security agencies.”

The same trend of achievements could also be noticed in Osun State where barely weeks after takeoff, May 3, 2020 precisely, the Amotekun corps in the state arrested 27 illegal miners, 17 of whom were Chinese and 10 locals, including a local chief (Baale) at illegal mine sites on the Ife-Ijesa axis.

Also during the national lockdown policy of the federal government, a fake Superintendent of Police SP, with 10 bags of cannabis was apprehended at Esa Oke, in Oriade Local Government Area. Fourteen young men hidden in container being used to convey foodstuffs were also intercepted at Ikire, near Osun/Oyo stares’ boundary at Asejire, including more illegal miners and two young men who specialised in stealing women’s underwears, among several other arrests which had kept the state relatively safe, especially at the grassroots.

Field Commander of the Security outfit in the state, Comrade Amitolu Shittu, who spoke to Sunday Tribune on the achievements and challenges of the Amotekun corps in the state says inadequate personnel, occasional rivalry from some existing security agencies and  financial challenges are factors hindering the effectiveness of the security outfit. Other factors, he says, include lack of administrative headquarters, uniforms and other kits.

While there are similar records of successes in Oyo State, new strategies are being devised to nip crime in the bud at the grassroots which include involvement of Mogajis (family heads) to speak to local gang leaders on the need to maintain peace.

Commandant of Amotekun in the state, Colonel Olayanju Olayinka (retd.) says the agency has in the past one month handed over 40 cases to the police while securing convictions with the affected offenders jailed.

He noted, however, that personnel of the outfit often face blackmail and distortion of facts about its operations and that gang violence in Ibadan is so coordinated that tracking down the criminals is a problem.

He, however, says the outfit will go back to the drawing board to support established security outfits in the state rather than being in the forefront of fighting crime.

Though the Amotekun security outfit was set up to support the main security structure in the South West and has recorded modest achievement, crime, anywhere in the world, is always getting more organized and sophisticated; therefore, only a more sophisticated and better organized Amotekun can play its expected role in the region.

  • Additional stories by Lanre Adewole, Adeolu Adeyemo and Wale Akinselure

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