Amotekun, the direct translation for a Leopard in Yoruba Language – Launched January 9th 2020, and codemaned Operation Amotekun , it is an initiative of the governors in the South-West geopolitical zone of Nigeria. It is a security outfit that was created with the aim of protecting lives and properties within the states.
In June 2019, the six-states governors of the South-West met in Ibadan putting aside their political differences to agree on a security outfit that seeks to protect indigenous people of the yoruba and the South West region from external invaders.
Amotekun is the Yoruba word that means Leopard. The Amotekun logo highlights the image of a prancing, angry leopard in its full flight. This represents ‘Zero tolerance to crime’
The creation of this security outfit was as a result of consistent insecurities facing the region. These include several reported cases of kidnapping, robbery and banditry in the Yoruba land.
Amotekun is a collective initiative by the South-West Governors, namely; Dr Kayode Fayemi(Ekiti), Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Engr. Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Prince Dapo Abiodun(Ogun), Chief Isiaka Oyetola (Osun) and Mr Babajide Sanwoolu (Lagos).
The headquarters of Operation Amotekun will be located in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital and each state of the aforementioned states has contributed 20 patrol vehicles, communication gadgets and other security gadgets to the central dispatch that is located at Gbongan in Osun State. Furthermore, each state will procure additional vehicle and gadgets for state-based operations.
But since the launch of the security outfit, they’ve been concerns from the central government of Nigeria. The Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, had declared the operation illegal. He said setting up of the organisation runs contrary to the provisions of the Nigerian law.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria is a sovereign entity and is governed by laws meant to sustain its corporate existence as a constitutional democracy. No other authority at the state level, whether the executive or legislature has the legal authority over defence, he said.
Mr Malami who cited the provisions of the Second Schedule to the Constitution insisted that security “is a matter that is within the exclusive operational competence of the Federal of Government of Nigeria.”
A senior lawyer, Femi Falana, however, argued that by the virtue of section 318 of the Constitution, the word “government” is said to include the government of the federation, or any state, or of a local government council or any person who exercises power or authority on its behalf.
One of the reasons for the creation of the security outfit is to complement the efforts of the police force in combating kidnapping, armed robbery, and other violent crimes.
While this is a step in the fulfillment of the primary purpose of government, it is also in response to the growing rate of insecurity in the South-west region and the country in general.
The South-west states like many other states in Nigeria, have suffered security challenges ranging from armed robbery, kidnappings, clashes between farmers and herders, and ritual killings.
A former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Olu Falae, was in 2015 kidnapped in Akure. Although the kidnappers were later arrested, a ransom of N5 million was paid for his release.
In June 2019, the daughter of the leader of the Youruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Reuben Fasoranti, was killed by suspected herdsmen along Ore road.
Olufunke Olakurin was shot while on her way to Lagos by masked hoodlums after a visit to her father in Akure.
Only recently, a popular herbal manufacturer, Fatai Yusuff, popularly called ‘Oko Oloyun’ was shot dead in Oyo State.
Mr Yusuff was shot on his way to Iseyin in Oyo State from Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital around 4.30 p.m.
Many residents including top politicians and community leaders have fallen victims of this menace and many who are kidnapped are most times not lucky enough to be released. Many others have been killed on roads, farms and even in their houses.
Over the years, there have been reports of kidnapping and wanton killings along the Akure–Ibadan expressway, the Ore-Benin expressway and the Owo-Akoko axis. Ekiti State has also witnessed gruesome incidences of kidnapping, armed robberies and ritual murders.
But the Chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum and Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, has said the regional security outfit, Operation Amotekun, was not targeted at any non-Yoruba ethnic group.
Akeredolu, who stated this in a statement in Akure by the state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr Donald Ojogo, said discourse on Operation Amotekun should not be given an ethnic colouration.
The South-West governors, traditional rulers and other prominent indigenes had, in June last year decided to set up Operation Amotekun as a result of serial killings and kidnapping in the zone.
Following the launch of the security outfit on January 9 in Ibadan, prominent groups, including the Igbo apex socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze; the Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere; Northern Elders’ Forum and Middle Belt associations, threw their weight behind the move by the South-West governors.
But on Tuesday, the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, faulted the South-West governors. He said they did not consult his office before setting up the security outfit.
“The setting up of the paramilitary organisation called Amotekun is illegal and runs contrary to the provisions of the Nigerian law, he said.”
Akeredolu on Sunday reiterated that the security outfit was to complement the efforts of the conventional internal security agencies.
He warned people against making divisive statements or utterances that were capable of compromising the genuine intentions of the South-West governors.
He said, “Amotekun, when fully operational, will serve the purposes of local information and intelligence gathering for processing and usage by the conventional security agencies. Amotekun is therefore, merely supportive and not a replacement for the nation’s security agencies.
“The concerns expressed by individuals, agencies of government and several stakeholders are noted without bias. Where possible, the inexorable efforts of the South-West governors will be deepened through relentless interface.
Meanwhile, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and governors from the South West met at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, where they resolved to come up with a framework to provide backing to the regional security outfit called Amotekun recently set up in the region.
Specifically, the meeting held after the National Economic Council (NEC) was to address the controversy after the Federal Government declared the regional security outfit illegal.
Although the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami had described Amotekun illegal, the South West Governors and other leaders from the region insist there was no going back in the implementation of the new security outfit.
Addressing newsmen on the outcome of the meeting, Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, said the meeting resolved to articulate a legal framework that will provide backing for the operations of the security outfit.
“All of us have agreed on the way forward,” Akeredolu said. “The most important one is that we are going to have a legal framework to back this Amotekun. And this legal framework is going to be one which we all are going to look at and will be sure to go without any hindrance.
Fielding question on insinuations that establishment of the outfit will be put on hold until the legal framework is developed, Akeredolu said the security outfit had come to stay.
“What I believe is our resolution is that Amotekan is there, you know the federal government is starting community policing.
He also dismissed reports that there were no consultations before the launch of the outfit.
Akeredolu said: “There were consultations because we held discussions with the IG then and what has developed is what has led to this, not that there were no consultations. We just felt that with all these noises outside it is better for us to sit down.
“Remember that immediately the noise started, I said that we are going to explore political solution and all of us are here. My colleague the deputy governor of Oyo who is of the PDP, all of us are here. So we have looked at this solution to it now, both political and legal solutions to it and all of us will do it.”
A statement signed by Professor Osinbajo’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, later explained that the meeting was convened at the instance of the Governors who had asked to see President Muhammadu Buhari over the controversy the establishment of the security outfit.
However, due to President Buhari’s foreign engagement, he asked the Vice President to host the meeting.
He said: “The meeting was very fruitful and unanimous resolutions were made on the way forward.
“Having regard to the need for all hands to be on deck in addressing the security concerns across the country, it was agreed that the structure of Amotekun should also align with the Community Policing strategy of the Federal Government.
“It was also agreed that necessary legal instruments will be put in place by each of the States to give legal backing to the initiative and address all issues concerning the regulation of the security structure.”