DEBATE, PRESENTLY, GOING ON IN NIGERIA, on the establishment of “Operation Amotekun” by six Nigerian south-west governors of Lagos, Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo, seemed to raise the question, whether citizens and residents in the country, have legitimate “human right” to existence, secured living, and being protected by government from the atrocities unleashed on them by armed bandits and other criminal elements in the country.
Ironically, while the debate is on, Nigerian government, that is constitutionally, entrusted with the safety of lives and property kept mum. Genocidal killings and bloodlettings are, now, regular feature in Nigeria. To six Nigerian south-west governors, the unwarranted killings and maiming of their people are preventable. As chief executive of their states, and doubled as chief security officer, they moved promptly to secure their people.
Government that endeavours to live up to its constitutional responsibility of securing life and property of its citizens, will not watch helplessly, while death is on sales in their respective States, and, in the country. Thursday, January 9, 2020, the six state governors, co-launched Western Nigerian Security Network, WNSN, named “Operation Amotekun” meaning [Leopard], to tackle mounting insecurity in the region.
They would not fold their hands and watch their people being needlessly killed and maimed by armed bandits. Mixed reactions have trailed the establishment of the security outfit – by ways of criticisms, as well as, applause for the initiative. Some security analysts, have made cautious comments about Operation Amotekun. Northern Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN, described the security initiative as “Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, military wing in disguise”, in its criticisms of the security outfit.
Nigeria’s Ministers of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami said government was yet to decide on the legality of the outfit. “It is about analysing the scope of the functions of Amotekun with the constitutional spirit of exclusive legislative list or otherwise,” he said.
Itse Sagay, professor in constitutional law, and Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, PACAC, gave his backing to the establishment of Operation Amotekun. He said Amotekun was established by the governors in accordance with their constitutional responsibility as chief security officers of their respective states.
Sagay said Nigerian police lack adequate manpower to effectively secure the country of 200 million people, and urged the police to cooperate with the security outfit. With time, men of Operation Amotekun could be allowed to bear arm. “I am positively disposed towards it. I think it is a good beginning not to depend completely on the Federal Government for our security”, he said.
“We should begin to rely more and more on ourselves so that those who feel the pain are those who try to take control of the security situation. We know that the Police are few; they are stretched; we have about 250,000 policemen in a country of almost 200 million. So, I think these regional security institutions are necessary. I believe the police should cooperate with them and help with their training.
“And I believe eventually, they should even be armed so that we can have a lot more hands and local people involved in security. Perhaps that can lead to other benefits, such as economic cooperation and wealth creation; and gradually, we’ll begin to regain what we lost when we lost the regions in the 60s. So, yes, I support it,” Sagay said.
Gani Adams, Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, said the Yoruba people are pleased with the outfit. He lashed critics of the outfit, as playing politics with Operation Amotekun. That they do not have value for lives. Operation Amotekun, is a welcome development. Anybody criticising it is either a “sadist or does not value life”, Adams said. And Amotekun is not the same as state police, that has been under agitation.
Yinka Odumakin, publicity secretary, pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, said the birth of the security outfit does not foreclose the need for regional autonomy. He dismisses criticism against the outfit, as any society facing threats by suspected herdsmen, kidnappers and others, could have done the same.
Odumakin cautioned Operation Amotekun to ensure they perform their functions professionally. Concentrate on intelligence gathering. Their strength over the police is capacity to gather intelligence. As local people, they understand the terrain and local language.
Odumakin said Operation Amotekun should not be used by the governors for political purpose. They should not become outfit used for settling irrelevant issues, such as land matters. They should concentrate, strictly, on security, so that their success would boost the case for the demand for state police.
Wole Soyinka, on Monday, reacted to the regional security outfit Operation Amotekun. It was at the occasion of “Never Again Conference”, organised by the Nzuko Umunna, to mark 50 years, after Nigerian civil war. He said Operation Amotekun satisfied the yearnings of the people, and “a desirable New Year gift”.
He thanked the governors who responded to the demand and yearnings of the people and produced an organisation called Amotekun. Soyinka’s words: “It is one of the most unexpected because I had given up on them. It is unexpected, but at the same time, a desirable New Year Present”.