Soyinka hails Amotekun, South-east meets on own se­cu­rity out­fit

The Punch - - FRONT PAGE - Oladimeji Ra­mon and Ed­ward Nnachi

SOUTH-EAST gover­nors and other lead­ers will meet this month with the aim of con­clud­ing talks on the zone’s se­cu­rity out­fit.

The Ebonyi State Com­mis­sioner for In­ter­nal Se­cu­rity and Bor­der Peace, Mr Stan­ley Emegha, who gave this in­di­ca­tion in a tele­phone in­ter­view with one of our cor­re­spon­dents in Abaka­liki on Mon­day, said the South-west copied the South-east se­cu­rity out­fit model.

Emegha said the South-east gover­nors and lead­ers would within the third and fourth weeks of Jan­uary meet to con­clude talks on the is­sue.

The South-west gover­nors had, on Thurs­day, launched the West­ern Nige­rian Se­cu­rity Out­fit code-named Op­er­a­tion

Amotekun fol­low­ing a se­ries of killings and kid­nap­ping in the zone by Fu­lani herds­men.

The apex Igbo so­cio-cul­tural or­gan­i­sa­tion, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, on Fri­day com­mended the South-west gover­nors for set­ting up the se­cu­rity out­fit.

“I sa­lute the South-west gover­nors. No­body needs to tell any Nige­rian to­day that your se­cu­rity is in your own hands,” Pres­i­dent of the group, Chief Nnia Nwodo, had said in a state­ment by his me­dia ad­viser, Emeka At­tamah.

Emegha, in the in­ter­view with The PUNCH, said the South-west’s Op­er­a­tion

Amotekun was copied from the South-east. The Ebonyi State Gov­er­nor, Dave Umahi, is the Chair­man of the South-east Gover­nors’ Fo­rum.

He said be­fore the launch of the Op­er­a­tion

Amotekun last week, the South-east gover­nors and other lead­ers had held many far-reach­ing se­cu­rity meet­ings on how to cur­tail in­se­cu­rity in the zone.

Emegha dis­closed that the South-east gover­nors last year ap­pointed Gen­eral Obi Umahi (retd.) to co­or­di­nate the se­cu­rity ar­chi­tec­ture of the zone.

He stated, “The launch of Amotekun in the South-west is what is al­ready in vogue in Ebonyi State, in par­tic­u­lar and South­East in gen­eral. This is so, be­cause traces of in­se­cu­rity like kid­nap­ping, car-snatch­ing and armed rob­beries are no longer found in Ebonyi State. What they have done is they have just copied what is al­ready in ex­is­tence in Ebonyi. This kind of se­cu­rity strat­egy is be­ing put in place and has been made pos­si­ble by the South-east Se­cu­rity Con­sul­tant, Gen. Obi Umahi (retd). But we have been silent about it be­cause we are wait­ing to launch at the right time.

“Se­cu­rity is a tech­ni­cal en­deav­our and that was why many ef­forts of gover­nors of the zone in this re­gard, had not been made pub­lic. Se­cu­rity is a very se­ri­ous thing. No dull per­son can be a crim­i­nal. Those who go into crim­i­nal­ity are smart and in­tel­li­gent per­sons. So we play down what we do be­cause we don’t want those we are tar­get­ing or fighting to cash in on our strate­gies.

“By the end of Jan­uary, pre­cisely, one of the days within third and fourth weeks of the month, the se­cu­rity ef­forts and plans of the state and that of the en­tire re­gion, will have been made clearer to the pub­lic. We will meet with our con­sul­tant this Jan­uary over se­cu­rity is­sues. But we are also be­ing tact­ful and are wait­ing for ad­vice from stake­hold­ers, be­cause se­cu­rity is a tech­ni­cal thing.”

Amotekun, de­sir­able New Year gift

– Soyinka

In a re­lated de­vel­op­ment, the No­bel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, on Mon­day hailed the re­gional se­cu­rity out­fit of the south­west­ern states, code-named

Op­er­a­tion Amotekun, say­ing it sat­is­fied the yearn­ings of the peo­ple.

Soyinka, while de­scrib­ing the se­cu­rity out­fit in­au­gu­rated last week as “a de­sir­able New Year gift,” said he had ear­lier given up on the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship of the re­gion un­til the launch of the se­cu­rity out­fit.

The re­spected play­wright spoke on Mon­day in La­gos at the “Never Again Con­fer­ence” or­gan­ised by the Nzuko Umunna and Ndigbo, to mark the 50 years af­ter the Nige­rian civil war.

Soyinka said, “To thank a num­ber of pub­lic-spir­ited, hu­man­ity-con­sid­er­ing gover­nors in this na­tion, who fi­nally re­sponded to the de­mands and yearn­ings of the cit­i­zens and pro­duced one or­gan­i­sa­tion called Amotekun.

“It counts as one of the most un­ex­pected be­cause I had given up on them; it is an un­ex­pected but at the same time a most de­sir­able New Year present.

“So, I think this coun­try has a few

amotekun (leop­ards). Those who dis­agree are free to dis­agree. The point is: the yearn­ing of the peo­ple has been ful­filled.”

Mean­while, two se­cu­rity ex­perts on Mon­day said Op­er­a­tion Amotekun would help curb crimes such as armed rob­bery and kid­nap­ping on the high­ways.

The two re­tired com­mis­sion­ers of po­lice told the News Agency of Nige­ria in two sep­a­rate in­ter­views that the se­cu­rity out­fit would com­ple­ment the po­lice and other state se­cu­rity outfits in the South-west.

A re­tired and former Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice in La­gos State, Ibe Agharaya, said that Amotekun would make use of the con­cept of com­mu­nity polic­ing in its op­er­a­tions.

He said that it in­volved the use of lo­cal in­di­genes to part­ner the mo­bile po­lice­men to quell armed rob­beries on Okene-lokoja Road then.

“Amotekun is a mod­ernised sys­tem of col­lab­o­ra­tion and part­ner­ship be­tween the reg­u­lar se­cu­rity agen­cies and the com­mu­nity for se­cu­rity pur­poses within a given area.

“With the type of war­like cam­paign, elec­tions, trib­al­ism and re­li­gious big­otry, we need such polic­ing sys­tem to be adopted for se­cur­ing lives and prop­erty.

“This sys­tem is par­tic­u­larly ef­fec­tive in the pre­ven­tion of crimes, par­tic­u­larly on the high­ways, where armed rob­bery and kid­nap­ping usu­ally take place,” he said.

Agharaya urged the com­mis­sion­ers of po­lice in the South-west to key into

Op­er­a­tion Amotekun by pro­vid­ing the sys­tem with mod­ern weapons so that the out­fit could be ef­fi­cient.

He stated, “No po­lice­man will en­ter the bush in the night to look for kid­nap­pers be­cause of lack of ba­sic equip­ment such as night gog­gles, good body ar­mour and sub­stan­tial gas to smoke them out.

“How­ever, the hunters and the in­di­genes of any given area will un­der­stand the ter­rain and can en­ter the bush with the as­sis­tance of the po­lice.

“So, the in­tro­duc­tion of the se­cu­rity sys­tem in the South-west is a good strat­egy to pre­vent crimes.”

A former Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice in La­gos State, Mr Fatai Owoseni, said Amotekun would help achieve the vi­sion of the gover­nors of the South-west for a more se­cure geopo­lit­i­cal zone.

Owoseni also said that the se­cu­rity out­fit would com­ple­ment pos­i­tively the con­ven­tional se­cu­rity out­fit based on their knowl­edge and fa­mil­iar­ity with their lo­cal­i­ties.

• Soyinka

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