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Operation Amotekun – What you need to know about the southwest security outfit

In a bid to curb kidnappings, arm robbery, herdsmen – farmers unending killings, and several other crimes, the six states which makes up the southwest have arrived at a conclusion of inventing a security outfit codenamed ‘Amotekun’.

The governors of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Osun and Ekiti have butressed the right to their new creation to the Chapter II, Section 14(2b) of the constitution which upholds that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government…”.

This new security creation have received applauds from various advocates of it, however many have presented reasons why such creation should be discarded.

Some parts of the country fears Amotekun is created as a stepping stone to the restructuring drive which the southwest have since been overtly clamouring for.

The Nigerian Police, army and some section of the presidency are yet to openly comment on the creation, signalling disapproval from them. It has been alleged that the ‘body language’ of the precidency have generated indifference on the part of some governors convening for it.

PoliticsNigeria take an indept details on how the outfit aims to function, especially as other constitutionally recognised security force have had minimal success fighting crime.

How it started

Operation Amotekun was created in June 2019, at the regional security summit in Ibadan.

Amotekun
Some of the vehicles donated to kickstart the outfit

The six government of the south-west region organized the summit as a reaction to various security reports emerging in the region.

With the decision to form a security outfit not completely independent of the existing security structure, the regional governments claimed they had secured approval from President Muhammadu Buhari aswell as the IGP.

The oufit’s function is to complement the efforts of the police in all the states of the regions, particularly in places where the Nigeria Police Force were uneffective.

How Amotekun intends to be funded

The Commissioner for Information in Ekiti State, Muyiwa Olumilua commenting about Amotekun said the state governments would effectively fund Amotekun to ensure that the complaints of lack of funds usually cited by the current police force for non-performance do not arise.

However, with no definite guidelines, the outfit is on a conflicting course with other bodies. With no funding plans made public, questions have been raised concerning the longetivity of Amotekun.

Dignitaries during the launch of Operation Amotekun
Dignitaries during the launch of Operation Amotekun

Dare Atoye, a leader a soci-cultural group had stated that Operation Amotekun might be uneffective unless the six governments of the South-west states employs the use of drones and other modern technologies to survey the borders and bushes in the region.

According to him, “there would be nothing new in the new outfit” is such is not implemented.

He further stated that the responsibilities of the security outfit must be well spelt out, and that it must’t be abused or misused like the Odua Peoples Congress to settle scores.

According to him, “It must be a security outfit keeping vigil on our borders and it should not involve in private matter or politics.”

Does Operation Amotekun conflicts with the constitution?

The Nigerian constitution recognises the Nigeria Police Force as the only agency responsible for the provision of security in the states of the federation.

Section 214(1) of it says “There shall be a police force for Nigeria, which shall be called the Nigeria Police Force and, subject to the provisions of this section no other police force shall be established for the federation or any part thereof.”

However, in section 14 of the same Constitution, the law stipulates that the security of lives and property of the citizens shall be the primary responsibility of every government.

Apologists to the creation of Amotekun have rested their advocacy to the creation on this later part of the constitution.

Section 20 of the Administration of Justice Act also seems to support the new outfit. It stipulates that every private citizen has the statutory power to arrest a criminal, and thereafter hand the suspect over to the police.

With no constitutional barrier to it’s creation, Amotekun would go unhindered given that it doesn’t collide with constitutionally recognised forces.

Still yet to be grounded

In the outfit’s launch on 9th January, Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State; Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State and Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State were distinctively absent, although Osun state and ogun state governors were represented by their deputies.

Amotekun
Vehicles intended for the commencement of Operation Amotekun. Credit: NAN

Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, later revealed that Abiodun and Sanwo-Olu did not attend the event because of bad weather.

Major dailies have alleged that some governors have grown ‘cold feets’ after the federal government’s unconcern towards Amotekun.

The Federal government’s untowardness towards Amotekun might have also encouraged the armed forces shyness towards the outfit.

The Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force and the police when questioned about their absence from the launch disclosed that they were not consulted or briefed on the role they would play in the security initiative for the region.

On account of anonymity, a senior official in the Navy told ThisDay: “Although the programme was touted to be a joint operation that is supposed to involve the military, none of us were consulted or briefed.

“I think they are just doing their thing on the political level. But if we are to come into the arrangement, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) will have to give us an official directive.

“At least none of us in the South-west region have been contacted. Nonetheless, it is not a replication of other operations we are running in the region.”

Still to the same paper, a source in the army debunking claims that the operation was similar to the Operation Crocodile Smile going on in the region said,

“There is no comparison between Operations Crocodile Smile and Amotekun. Ours is a purely army affair. All the same, we haven’t been contacted.

“I also read in the papers where they said they will work with us. We are not adverse to that, however, they will have to go through the Chief of Defence Staff.”

Operation Amotekun was launched with branded fleets of vehicles handed over.

Although starting off from a coarse and an unmarked path, the effectiveness of the south-west security outfit should best not be undermined.

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