Governors of Southwest states declared on Thursday that the zonal security outfit is neither a replacement for the nation’s security system nor state police.
They also assured that the outfit will not be deployed as a political tool.
The governors gave the assurance in Ibadan as the novel zonal security initiative – The Western Nigerian Security Network (WNSN) was inaugurated. It is code-named Operation Amotekun.
All the six states in the region – Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Ondo, and Ekiti – are jointly funding the outfit, which will involve local hunters, vigilantes and designated members of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) as personnel. The police will drive the process.
Each of the states contributed 20 patrol vehicles – Oyo gave 33 – all fitted with communication gadgets to cover the region under a central command.
The local level of the security outfit will be solely handled by individual states. The two levels will work in collaboration.
While the headquarters will be in Ibadan, the operation will be controlled from Gbongan in Osun State.
Chairman of Southwest Governors Forum, Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, performed the inauguration of the equipment in the presence of Governors Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) and Seyi Makinde (Oyo).
Osun State Governor Adegboyega Oyetola was represented by Deputy Governor Benedict Alabi while Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun was represented by Deputy Governor Noimot Salako-Oyedele.
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was part of the decision to create Operation Amotekun at the security meeting in November 2019 in Ibadan, was absent.
Fayemi said: “Amotekun is not a duplication, neither is it a replacement for the Nigeria Police Force and other statutory security agencies. Amotekun is a complement that gives our people the confidence that they are being looked after by the people they elected into office”.
The Ekiti State governor added that the magnitude of insecurity witnessed in the Southwest last year which led to the need for Amotekun could not be ignored.
He said there was a need for additional support for security agencies.
Fayemi added that enemies of Amotekun went on social media to give wrong interpretations of the security outfit.
He said: “We were daily assaulted by armed robbers, bandits and kidnappers. The mainstream security agencies did their best. It was in that circumstance that we lost Funke Olakunrin, the daughter of our leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti. All these mounted pressure on political leaders because our people could not sleep with their two eyes closed.
“So, our primary responsibility to provide security and welfare of the citizenry led to this. Though criminal activities were all over the country then, our people in the Southwest, a relatively peaceful zone, became agitated over the increasing insecurity.
“I am pleased that Amotekun, whose idea has come, has been endorsed by the police in the country.
“The IGP has announced its endorsement. Amotekun is nothing but a community policing response to the yearning of our people.
“It will fill the void pending the time community policing structure being planned by the police will be ready. It is a confidence-building strategy for our people in the Southwest.
“When elements that will work in a joint task force are ready, they will do it with the knowledge of the language and culture and terrain of the places where they will work.
”So, we do not want this to create any fear in the mind of anyone. We have seen all manners of things in social media. It is an attempt to sabotage what we are doing.
“We are not creating a regional police force. We are not oblivious of the steps we must take to have state police.
“Some of us are unapologetic in our belief in state police but we are also-law abiding citizens. We know the lawful steps to be taken to achieve that but that won’t stop us from taking steps to provide security for our people.
“As long as they are close to our people and they can be held accountable, we are okay by it. So, this should not be misconstrued. They will operate independently but relate regionally. Most importantly, this is not an attempt to undermine the Federal Government of Nigeria. We will do everything to protect the integrity of our country. Our primary interest is the security of our people and we will do everything to push this frontier.”
Akeredolu promised that they would not deploy Amotekun for political purposes.
He said: “We acknowledge the efforts of the Federal Government in providing adequate security.
“It is our sincere hope that our efforts at the regional level will be useful for the Federal Government in the future.
“All we want to do is to protect our states. We are not coming up with an antagonistic structure. We are just working together. Criminality is alien to Yoruba. We always triumph over negative issues.
“We must emphasize again that this is not in any manner a body which will operate as an alternative to the Police. It is in the realm of intelligence gathering.”
“The Southwest leaders believe in the unity of Nigeria. Some of us cannot afford to break this country. We are committed to a more united and stronger Nigeria. Almost all of us agree that our unity is our strength.”
Akeredolu (SAN), warned criminals to stay away from the Southwest because” we now have our men who know the land, way, and roads who will follow and track them.”
The governor thanked the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission for a job well done. He said the commission was still working on the grey areas in Amotekun’s operational guidelines.
He added: “We will make it difficult for undesirable elements to compound the problem on ground. You can’t use Amotekun to feather your own nest. You can’t use it for politics. No governor can deploy them for politics. Members of Amotekun will be accountable. We will depend on them to protect our territory.”
Akeredolu assured that all the governors would continue “to provide logistic support to statutory security agencies and Amotekun.”
Oyetola described the outfit as a fulfillment of the responsibility of the governments in the Southwest. He advised the personnel to operate within limits.
Makinde said it was an honour for Oyo State to host the launch of another first-of-its-kind project in Ibadan.
He said it was time for Southwest to be brave, stressing that Amotekun was in the direction of achieving that.
Firing at critics of the initiative, Makinde said: “Traditionally, humankind has always been afraid of what they do not understand. Sometimes, people throw out revolutionary ideas because people either do not understand it or are not willing to understand it.
“But, as an African proverb says, ‘the brave man is not he who doesn’t feel afraid, but he that conquers that fear.’’’
“It is therefore is time for us to be brave. Six months ago, we met, right here in Oyo State and decided to set up a regional collaborative security agency. I am happy that we followed through. With our sister states of Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, and Osun, Oyo State in launching Amotekun.
“As governors of these states, it is our priority to ensure that both indigenes and settlers within the boundaries of our various states can carry out their legitimate activities in a secure environment.
“The security of their lives and property should be of paramount importance. When we discuss the development potential of our states and talk about investment opportunities as well as growing our Internally Generated Revenue by exploring areas of comparative advantage, we remain keenly aware that we cannot achieve anything in a state of insecurity.
“To those who are afraid, I say, when we assumed office, we all took the Oath of Office and promised to be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria; To follow the dictates of the Constitution and protect the sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We have not forgotten our oath.”
Makinde said the Southwest regional integration project should be seen “in one light and one light alone: that we are coming together to fight a common enemy. That enemy is not Nigeria, the enemies are the elements among us and their affiliates who are determined to cause commotion within the borders of our states and threaten our peaceful coexistence.”
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi and the leader of the Yoruba World Congress, Prof. Banji Akintoye, commended the governors for the initiative. They called on all residents of the Southwest states to support Amotekun to succeed.
Oba Ogunwusi said: “All the traditional rulers are in support, the Federal Government is not opposed to it, let all and sundry support it for peace to reign in the region”.
Minister of Sports Sunday Dare; Chief Tola Adeniyi, Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly Adebo Ogundoyin, and other top government functionaries in the six states were also present.
The Aare Onakanfo of Yorubaland, Gani Adams, was represented by Mr Gani Kayode-Balogun.
After the branded vehicles were inaugurated, they were driven by the governors. Thereafter, the drivers took over and drove them around Ibadan City.
North Has No Justification To Remain In Power, Presidency Should Go To The South After Buhari —- El-Rufai
The Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, has insisted that the North has no justification to remain in power after the expiration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s second tenure.
El-Rufai maintained that the Presidency should rightly return to the Southern part of Nigeria.
He said though the constitution of the All Progressives Congress, APC, does not make provision for rotation but in the interest of justice, equity, and fair play, Presidency should go to other regions of the country.
Vanguard quoted him as saying: “The general political consensus in Nigeria is that the Presidency should rotate between the North and the South. It is not written but everyone understands it.
“In some of the parties, like the PDP, it is even written down in their constitution but it was breached in 2015. I think that every politician of honour should understand and abide by that consensus except there is an extenuating circumstance compelling it to be set aside. What could this be?
“President Yar’Adua died in office and it was compulsory for Jonathan to continue but when 2011 election came, there were many people who insisted that Jonathan should step aside for a northerner to complete the tenure of Yar’Adua but I opposed it because I didn’t think it was proper for an incumbent that got there not by his own design should be stopped from contesting when the constitution has not barred him from running.
“In the APC, we deliberately omitted rotational Presidency in our constitution and the emergence of a presidential candidate does not take into account zoning and that was why in 2015, Rochas Okorocha from the East contested, Sam Nda-Isaiah contested, Buhari, Kwankwaso and others contested.”
El-Rufai a chieftain of APC, added that presidential candidates are chosen on the basis of merit and general acceptance.
“I can say that as distinct from the PDP, APC has no rotational Presidency but candidates are selected strictly on the basis of political merit and the general acceptability of the candidate.
“I want to say that those of us from Northern Nigeria honour agreements. We do not violate unwritten political agreements and I will be the last person to lead in violating that agreement. I may have a personal view but that should be the basis. I don’t care where you come from but I look for merit.
“But as a group, the Northern APC will have to sit down and endorse someone, most likely someone from the South, because after eight years of Buhari, I don’t think the Presidency should remain in the north unless there is some extenuating circumstances. But all things being equal, we will honour our agreement and we keep our words,” he said.
Woman, 3 Others Jailed 160 Years Over Fake Naira Notes
A woman, Hadiza Bello, and three other accomplices have been sentenced to 160 years in prison by a Federal High Court, sitting in Yola, Adamawa State, for dealing in fake naira notes.
The convicts were dragged before the court by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission after they were caught at a checkpoint along Girei-Yola Road.
A statement from the ICPC spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa, said five suspects — Hadiza, Mohammed Dauda, Bello Salisu, Ali Adamu and Hassan Bello, were involved in a deal to exchange the sum of N5m counterfeit notes for N1m real notes, adding that Hassan, a native doctor, could not be sentenced because of his death before conviction.
The statement said, “A Federal High Court sitting in Yola, Adamawa State, has sentenced four persons, including a woman, to 160 years’ imprisonment on a multiple-count charge of conspiracy and possession of counterfeit banknotes.
“Justice Abdulazeez Anka, who handed down the sentences to the convicts in the case brought by the ICPC, ruled that they would spend 10 years in prison on each of the four counts preferred against them.
“Three of the convicts, Hadiza Bello, Mohammed Dauda and Bello Salisu, had in March 2017, left Kaduna and were joined by the fourth convict, Ali Adamu, from Kano, to meet a native doctor, Hassan Bello, who was a counterfeiter at Wamdeo Uba, Borno State, with the intention to procure about N5m counterfeit banknotes to exchange for about N1m genuine banknotes from a customs officer.
“The deal with the customs officer did not go through for undisclosed reasons. However, as they made their way back, they were caught at a checkpoint on Girei-Yola Road, with counterfeit N1000 banknotes to the value of N5, 504,000 by soldiers on duty and subsequently handed over to the ICPC.”
The anti-graft body said an investigation launched by its officers led to the residence of the native doctor at Wamdeo Uba, where he was arrested.
“A search conducted on the premises revealed more counterfeit N1000 bank notes reading the same serial number to the value of N26,000.
“At the conclusion of investigations, except for Bello Salisu, who was charged with abetment to commit an offense of possession of counterfeit banknotes, the other four suspects, including the native doctor counterfeiter, were arraigned on four counts of being in possession of counterfeit banknotes, which is an offense contrary to sections 5(1) (b) and 6(2) (b), and punishable under Section 5(1) (c) of the Counterfeit Currency (Special Provisions) Act, cap. C35, LFN 2004,” the statement added.
In his ruling, Justice Anka found the accused persons guilty on each of the four counts and sentenced them to cumulative 40 years’ imprisonment each, although the sentences would run concurrently.
Man Rapes Six Teenage Boys, Blames Demons
The Anambra Police Command on Sunday said it had arrested a man, Emmanuel Bassey, for sexually assaulting six teenage boys.
The police claimed that the man lured and forcefully defiled the underage children.
The suspect, it was alleged, molested his victims in different parts of the state.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Haruna Mohammed, in a press release, said the suspect was arrested following a tip-off.
“Following a tip-off, police detectives attached to ‘B’ Division, Awka, arrested one Emmanuel Bassey (38) of Abi LGA of Cross River State, but resident at Ngozika Housing Estate, Awka.
“The suspect allegedly had unlawful carnal knowledge against the order of nature with over six small boys of between 10 and 14 years on different occasions.
“The suspect has equally made a voluntary confessional statement to the police and blamed his act on demons.”
Mohammed said the victims had been taken to hospital for medical examination.
“The Commissioner of Police, John Abang, has ordered immediate transfer of the case to the State Criminal Investigation Department for discreet investigation after which the suspect will be prosecuted,” the PPRO added.