FG in­ter­fer­ence, govs’ in­trigues threaten Op­er­a­tion Amotekun

• 120 op­er­a­tional ve­hi­cles head for Ibadan as in­au­gu­ra­tion holds to­day • DAWN says op­er­a­tion not al­ter­na­tive army as Fayemi, IG meet

The Punch - - FRONT PAGE - John Alechenu, Ade­lani Ade­pegba, Dayo Ojerinde, Bola Bamigbola, Daud Olatunji, Abio­dun Nejo and­peter Dada

THERE were strong in­di­ca­tions on Wednesday that in­trigues among South­west gov­er­nors and in­ter­fer­ence by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment were threat­en­ing the Western Nige­ria Se­cu­rity Out­fit co­de­named Op­er­a­tion Amotekun (leop­ard).

The PUNCH gath­ered that al­though all the South-west gov­er­nors agreed to set up the se­cu­rity out­fit at a sum­mit or­gan­ised by the De­vel­op­ment Agenda for Western Nige­ria in June last year, some of them had started de­vel­op­ing cold feet.

The sum­mit, which was at­tended by the gov­er­nors, tra­di­tional rulers and other stake­hold­ers in the South-west, was con­vened fol­low­ing se­rial killings and kid­nap­ping in the zone by Fu­lani herds­men.

Gun­men, sus­pected to be herds­men, had in June killed Funke Olakunri, a daugh­ter of the Afenifere leader, Reuben Fa­so­ranti, on the Ondo-ore road.

In May, a lec­turer at the Obafemi Awolowo Univer­sity, Ile-ife, Prof Olayinka Adeg­be­hingbe, was ab­ducted at the Ikoyi/ Apomu junc­tion of the Ibadan-ife Ex­press­way in Ikire, a bor­der town be­tween Osun and Oyo states.

There were also many cases of kid­nap­ping and killings on other ma­jor roads in the zone.

But one of our cor­re­spon­dents gath­ered on Wednesday that some el­e­ments within the Pres­i­dency as well as the po­lice high com­mand, were not favourably dis­posed to the re­gional out­fit be­cause they con­sid­ered it as part of restruc­tur­ing agenda, the South­west had been push­ing for.

It was learnt that af­ter un­der­stand­ing the body lan­guage of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment, some gov­er­nors’ in­ter­est in the se­cu­rity out­fit be­gan to wane.

A top Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial, who con­fided in The PUNCH, said, “Hav­ing stud­ied the ‘body lan­guage’ of the ex­ec­u­tive at the fed­eral level, some of these gov­er­nors who do not want to be in the bad books of ‘Abuja’ are se­cretly go­ing be­hind to give the im­pres­sion that a par­tic­u­lar gov­er­nor among them was the one push­ing for the re­gional out­fit.

“Some of these gov­er­nors have am­bi­tions for po­si­tions at the cen­tre, do not want to give an im­pres­sion that they are con­fronting the cen­tre through the set­ting up of the re­gional se­cu­rity out­fit.

“We un­der­stand that a sec­tion of the Pres­i­dency and the po­lice high com­mand are un­com­fort­able with the idea of a re­gional se­cu­rity out­fit which they do not have di­rect con­trol over.

“The same gov­er­nors are in quandary be­cause they equally don’t want to give their peo­ple the im­pres­sion that they are not in­ter­ested in pro­mot­ing a re­gional re­sponse to a real and present threat of an in­va­sion of their an­ces­tral lands.”

But at least, three of the South-west states on Wednesday said they would at­tend the launch of the se­cu­rity out­fit which would take place in Ibadan on Thursday.

When one of our cor­re­spon­dents en­quired about the event, the Chief Press Sec­re­tary to the Ogun State Gov­er­nor, Dapo Abio­dun, Kunle So­morin, ear­lier on Wednesday said, “I have my reser­va­tion about that be­cause he (gov­er­nor ) has not mo­bilised us. He has not asked us to get set for Ibadan.”

But later on Wednesday, the CPS said his boss had given the sig­nal of his readi­ness to par­tic­i­pate in the pro­posed launch.

He said “the Chief of Staff (Shuaib Salis) has called me that we should pre­pare to go to Ibadan to­mor­row (Thursday) for the launch of Amotekun.”

It’s early to say whether Sanwo-olu will at­tend or not – Aide

The Chief Press Sec­re­tary to the La­gos State Gov­er­nor, Mr Gboyega Akosile, said the La­gos State Gov­er­nor, Baba­jide Sanwo-olu, was in sup­port of the Op­er­a­tion Amotekun.

Akosile, in an in­ter­view with one of our cor­re­spon­dents, said, “It is part of his itin­er­ary to at­tend the launch of the scheme on Thursday but it is too early to know if he will at­tend in per­son or not. He is co­op­er­at­ing with other South-west gov­er­nors to safe­guard lives and prop­erty in the re­gion.”

The Chief Press Sec­re­tary to Osun State Gov­er­nor, Is­mail Omip­i­dan, said the state would par­tic­i­pate in the launch.

He said the state had re­ceived an in­vi­ta­tion to the launch of Op­er­a­tion Amotekun and would be at the venue in Ibadan.

120 Amotekun ve­hi­cles head to­wards Ibadan

The Spe­cial Ad­viser to Ek­iti State Gov­er­nor on se­cu­rity, Bri­gadier Gen­eral Ebenezar Ogun­dana (retd.) also con­firmed that the launch would take place in Ibadan as sched­uled.

He said, “The launch is tak­ing place in Ibadan on Thursday (to­day). The head­quar­ters will be at Ibadan. All the states in the South-west are al­ready gathering in Ibadan in readi­ness for the launch.

The se­cu­rity ad­viser said all the 120 branded Op­er­a­tion Amotekun ve­hi­cles – 20 vans from each of the six south­west states – would be there in Ibadan for the launch. He added that af­ter the launch, the ve­hi­cles would be dis­patched to the re­spec­tive states.

Ogun­dana said that the size of the troops would be de­ter­mined by what each of the six states had ca­pac­ity for and based on the level of se­cu­rity threat.

He stated, “Ev­ery state gov­ern­ment will fund the troops in its state. It is the ca­pac­ity of a state that will de­ter­mine the size of troops it needs.

“Each state will de­ter­mine what it needs and what it can af­ford. You know the states are not the same; the threats are not the same and the strengths are not the same. It is when we come back from the launch now that we will de­ter­mine our ac­tual needs.”

The Ek­iti State Com­mis­sioner for In­for­ma­tion, Muyiwa Olu­milua, dis­missed a ru­mour that South-west gov­er­nors had been in­vited to Abuja on Wednesday for a meet­ing over Amotekun, fu­elling fears the launch might be halted.

Fayemi went to Abuja on Wednesday – Com­mis­sioner

He said, “The in­au­gu­ra­tion still holds to­mor­row (Thursday). As I speak, all other South-west gov­er­nors are in their states prepara­tory to the launch. The launch is go­ing on to­mor­row (Thursday) as sched­uled. Gov­er­nor Kay­ode Fayemi left for Abuja af­ter the state Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil meet­ing in Ado Ek­iti to­day (Wednesday).

“All the is­sues con­cern­ing Amotekun have been re­solved and the launch will go on to­mor­row (Thursday) as sched­uled.”

Noth­ing is stop­ping Op­er­a­tion

Amotekun – Ondo govt

On his part, the Spe­cial Ad­viser to the Ondo State Gov­er­nor on Se­cu­rity Mat­ters, Al­haji Ji­moh Do­jumo, said of­fi­cers of the state were al­ready in Ibadan for the launch.

He said, “I don’t think any­thing is stop­ping the launch of Op­er­a­tion Amotekun to­mor­row (Thursday). We are al­ready in Ibadan for the launch, on the in­struc­tions of Mr Gov­er­nor. All the teams from other states are here too for the pro­gramme. So the op­er­a­tion would be launched as sched­uled.”

It’s not an al­ter­na­tive Army – DAWN

But the Di­rec­tor-gen­eral, De­vel­op­ment Agenda for Western Nige­ria, Seye Oyel­eye, said Op­er­a­tion Amotekun was not an al­ter­na­tive Army.

Oyel­eye, who spoke in an in­ter­view with one of our cor­re­spon­dents, said the out­fit’s head­quar­ters would be in Ibadan, the Oyo State cap­i­tal.

He stated,”i want to dis­abuse the think­ing that we want to set up an al­ter­na­tive army. This is com­mu­nity polic­ing and in 2020, polic­ing has to be lo­cal. That is the idea be­hind Op­er­a­tion Amotekun.

“I have heard peo­ple say the po­lice will not al­low it to work. But I say Op­er­a­tion Amotekun will, in fact, help the po­lice be­cause they are the lo­cal peo­ple that know ev­ery­where and un­der­stand the ter­rain very well. The po­lice can­not say they know all the forests and bushes in the South-west.”

Oyel­eye de­scribed as un­true a re­port that the per­son­nel of Op­er­a­tion Amotekun would be paid N13,500 monthly.

He stated, “Some­one said on Tues­day that they would be giv­ing the per­son­nel of the se­cu­rity N13,500 as monthly salary. This is not true. I can’t give you the fig­ure they will be paid but no state will pay be­low the min­i­mum wage. The pay­ment would be done by the in­di­vid­ual state. You see, Amotekun is a re­gional thing but it will be run un­der re­gional col­lab­o­ra­tion. It still has the state el­e­ments there.

“Their op­er­a­tion will be seam­less. If some­thing is hap­pen­ing near the Oyo bor­der, the Ogun Amotekun can cross into Oyo and vice versa. They will be work­ing and com­mu­ni­cat­ing to­gether but the states are, at the mo­ment, solely re­spon­si­ble for the pay­ment of salaries.”

Oyel­eye re­called what brought about Op­er­a­tion Amotekun was the in­crease in ban­ditry and kid­nap­ping in the South-west.

“The states said we are con­tigu­ous in that we share com­mon bound­aries and we speak same lan­guage, let’s do some­thing jointly among the states so that some­one driv­ing from La­gos to Ogun would have rest of mind. Even if some­thing is hap­pen­ing you can ap­proach them and the men of the Op­er­a­tion Amotekun will also call the po­lice for backup.”

Fayemi, IGP meet

Mean­while, the In­spec­tor-gen­eral of Po­lice, Mo­hammed Adamu, has en­dorsed the Op­er­a­tion Amotekun.

This fol­lowed the visit by Gov­er­nor Kay­ode Fayemi of Ek­iti State to the IG at the force head­quar­ters in Abuja on Wednesday.

Fayemi, who is also the Chair­man of the Nige­ria Gov­er­nor’s Fo­rum re­port­edly met with Adamu where they dis­cussed the op­er­a­tional modal­i­ties for the re­gional se­cu­rity out­fit which would be in­au­gu­rated in Ibadan, Oyo State, on Thursday (to­day).

A source said, “Gov­er­nor Fayemi has met with the IG and both men agreed on the need for the se­cu­rity out­fit to take off as soon as pos­si­ble to ad­dress the se­cu­rity chal­lenges in the South-west. They also dis­cussed the tech­ni­cal de­tails and the IG fully en­dorsed the ini­tia­tive.”

The po­lice spokesman, DCP Frank Mba, failed to re­spond to in­quiries on the re­gional se­cu­rity out­fit as calls to his phone rang out. He had yet to re­spond to a text mes­sage as of the time of fil­ing this re­port.

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