The Six South West governors, weekend, declared that they will not “capitulate to blackmail” from within or outside the region, and reaffirmed that the South West security initiative, Amotekun, is neither a regional army nor an ethnic agenda aimed at obliterating and undermining national cohesion.
Chairman of the South West Governors Forum, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, therefore, advised against divisive statements and utterances that are capable of compromising the genuine intentions of the governors.
Meanwhile, Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, has lambasted the protagonists of Amotekun, describing it as a tribal militia to prosecute the region’s agenda of transforming into a separate nation through the backdoor.
This came as legal luminary, Chief Afe Babalola, SAN, advised the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, to take the six South West governors to court over the creation of the joint security network codenamed ‘Operation Amotekun’, rather than constituting himself to a court dishing out judgement.
Also, former Aviation Minister, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, urged the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to perish any thought of outlawing Amotekun, saying it has come to stay to safeguard lives and property of the people.
Similarly, the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, yesterday, called on traditional rulers in the South-West, to throw their weight behind Operation Amotekun for it to see the light of the day, while urging the various state houses of assembly to pass laws legalizing the security outfit in their states.
In the same vein, a former Presidential aspirant of the Alliance For New Nigeria, ANN, Thomas-Wilson Ikubese, weekend, asked the South West governors to give the Amotekun security outfit a legal strength by getting their various houses of assembly to enact a law legalising it in each state.
Chairman of the South West Governors Forum, Akeredolu in a statement in Akure by his Information and Orientation Commissioner, Donald Ojogo, said, “ethnicizing the current situation is even more unhelpful. There should be no reason for such.
“This is more so that the Amotekun scheme is not targeted at any non-South West ethnic group just as its benefits are to be reaped by all Nigerians irrespective of ethnic or religious placements. Amotekun was initiated to complement the efforts of the conventional internal security agencies that appear to have been hampered by the absence of local intelligence gathering architecture. Put simply, 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. On-going discourse on the issue of Amotekun must not be misguidedly used as a platform to ventilate personal or group views aimed at oiling primordial sentiments and grievances.
“The South West governors will not capitulate to blackmail either from within or outside the region but are ready to pursue the Amotekun security scheme through all permissible political and legal means. Under circumstances of the nature of Amotekun, the choices are numerous.
“They range from prevarication and pretense; partisanship and sycophancy as well as moderate and complementary steps not inimical to the corporate existence of our Nation Nigeria. The South West governors have chosen the later. In unequivocal terms too, each of the choices has a consequence, if not consequences.
“Unfortunately, the steps of South West governors have unwittingly, had to contend with forces of conspiratorial silence and unpretentious moves of sabotage. Each has a right to choices; but certainly, no one individual can circumvent the consequences of whatever choices he or she makes in life.”
But Mohammed, who spoke to newsmen, said the move by the South West leaders would backfire against them and equally pitch them against other Nigerians, who are not in support of such an ethnic agenda.
He said: “It was a grave mistake for the Presidency to allow the governors to set up the outfit if it is true that the federal government gave them any form of permission to launch. How can governors who have not been able to pay the new minimum wage be able to set up an army and armed the militias?
“To me, it is not in Nigeria’s interest to allow Amotekun at this time in its history. As far as I am concerned, the fact that they went ahead to float such an entity at this moment in the history of Nigeria shows clearly that there is something fundamentally wrong with the polity.
“I know the key players in the South West very well. And part of their calculation is that if Amotekun fails, they would at least use it to force the Federal Government to make more concessions to the Yoruba. But I want the masterminds of this grave illegality to be ready to face the consequences of their dastard action.”
But reminded that Amotekun, Hisbah police and Civilian JTF were all the same, Mohammed disagreed, pointing out that while Amotekun is armed by the governors of the South West, Civilian JTF were mere hunters and like Hisbah does not carry arms but merely assist law enforcement agents in maintaining law and order.
Mohammed also asked the Federal Government to test the matter at the Supreme Court to get a pronouncement that no state has the right to raise a state or regional army while the constitution forbids such.
Babalola, who spoke in Ado Ekiti yesterday, said, the federal government should be the one to approach the court to seek redress, since it waited until after the formation of Amotekun before making its position known.
“In my opinion, the act has been done, Amotekun had been launched, let them go on. Anybody that feels what they have done is wrong can go to court. They will meet the governors there. All the governors would have to do is to show them the law, the constitution, sections 24, 40, 45. That is it.
“What the state governors have done is legal, so why should they bother? Let the federal government try to go to court. It is a case that must fail if they go to court. They have not set up a parallel police outfit, no. The constitution says it is your duty to protect the interest of yourself and others and join together in doing so. So simple. The case will be so easy to win.
“The Amotekun outfit is a protective and supportive outfit established by the governors of the South West. It has its roots in the 1999 Constitution and the previous constitutions before it – 1960, 1963.
“Section 24 of the constitution provides that ‘it shall be the duty of every citizen to make positive and useful contribution to the advancement, progress and well-being of the community where he resides’. Well-being means security of life and property. How many Nigerians realise that they have a duty to assist and to protect the interest of the community and themselves?
“Section 40 goes further that ‘every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular, he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests’.
“When you put these two together, it shows that all of us have the duty to associate whether as Yoruba people or as state people to ensure that lives and properties are safe. The Amotekun outfit has its roots in the constitution. It is constitutional, it is legal, it is proper.
“What I have just said is that it is to support the police, support the government in their duty to ensure that there is peace, there is safety of property, safety of lives. It is a good idea. It is belated but it is lawful and constitutional.
“All that the AGF said is that Article 45 of the constitution, second schedule gives to the Federal Government the exclusive power to manage the police, he did not say that sections 20, 40 and 45 are abrogated. They cannot abrogate it.
“The sections I have quoted are superior to the schedule he is talking about and in any event, the governors have not set up a parallel police outfit, what they have done is to set up a supportive and protective organ to assist the police and in their communiqué, they said it would report to the police.
“The law says you can join together in association to assist the police. How can the police or any government be angry about this? In fact, the federal government should really thank the governors and blame them for coming too late because if this outfit has been on in the last 10 years, we would not have all these kidnappings and other crimes. They should immediately thank these people for what they are doing,” he said.
Fani-Kayode said: “Anybody that feels that he doesn’t have to support the people of the South West is making a mistake. And anybody that believes that we can be in anyway intimidated by stepping down and saying we will not protect our people from those killing is mistaken.
“There is no going back and it is something we have firmly resolved about. We speak as one, we stand as one. We are solidly behind the governors. Every group in the South West is behind the governors, it is across party line.
“Whether you are (a member) of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, or All Progressives Congress, APC, it doesn’t matter. The fact remains that those of us who claim to be the leaders in the South West have taken a decision. We will protect our people no matter what it takes, no matter what it costs.”
On Federal Government’s declaration of Amotekun as illegal, Fani-Kayode said: “That is just an opinion by the Federal Government, by the Attorney General. He is a man like you and I. He is entitled to his own opinion. I have been in government for many years and I know that government officials often say things that are often meaningless; that have no substance or basis.
“So our opinion is different. In any case, whatever he says, whatever the court says, we have the right to self defence. People are being slaughtered. The leader of Afenifere’s daughter was slaughtered, Baba Olu Falae’s farm raided, he was kidnapped and beaten like a dog, he was insulted.
“Thousands of our people are being slaughtered in the South West and somebody will come and tell us that his interpretation of the constitution is that we don’t have the right to self defence?”
The Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, yesterday, called on traditional rulers in the South-West to throw their weight behind the Western Nigerian Security Network, known as “Operation Amotekun”.
He said: “As we can see and observe, since the launch of Amotekun few weeks ago, criminal activities is gradually going into oblivion. Examples include kidnapping, invasion of farmland and other social vices. The existence of Amotekun is now the beginning of wisdom.”
He argued that the Minister and Attorney General, Malami goofed to have described Amotekun as an illegal security outfit, when similar security outfits such as Hisbah operates in Nassarawa, Kano and Katsina States.
He emphasized that the Minister has no moral justification to discredit Amotekun, at the expense of similar networks operational in the North, stressing that, if he found Amotekun illegal, he should also admit same for Hisbah in the North.
Reacting to Balarabe Musa’s comments on Amotekun, the Aare Ona Kakanfo pointed out that, the fear of the North is that, the existence of Amotekun will jeorpadise their conquest agenda, stressing that the Northern leaders are not for good governance, but conquest agenda.
He said: “Let me say this clearly, the emergence of Amotekun is the beginning of wisdom, and the fear of the Northern oligarchy is that, the existence of Amotekun may jeopardise their conquest agenda. They are not for good governance, but interested in their plan towards conquest agenda.
“As a former Governor in Nigeria, when has he become spokesman for the North that he is now condemning any good initiative from the South West? It is on record that he is the only former Governor in Nigeria, who operates a one man show, has no aide, he has no followership.
“We are pleased because, the fear of OPC (Odua Peoples Congress) on the criminals in the North is the beginning of wisdom. Their fear in the North is that, OPC will not compromise on the security situation.’
A former Presidential aspirant of the Alliance For New Nigeria, ANN, Thomas-Wilson Ikubese, weekend asked the South West governors to give the Amotekun security outfit a legal strength by getting their various state houses of assembly to enact a law legalising it in each state.
Ikubese in a statement in Akure, said: “For putting aside political party affiliations and established a community security outfit called Amotekun, for the protection of lives and properties of persons who inhabit this region, I must comment the South West governors.
“In recent times, South Western Nigeria, like many parts of Nigeria, has been under siege by spates of unprecedented criminality, ranging from outright banditry to ruthless kidnapping for ransom.
On the position of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, the Police and finally from the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, he said: “Perhaps, more confusingly disturbing is the fact that similar outfits exist in Northern Nigeria.
“The Hisbah police and Civilian Joint Task Force in North West and the Civilian Joint Task Force in North East have since been on ground, working to preserve the region and its people. So why the hues and cries about Amotekun?
“lt’s been rumoured in recent times, that there’s a grand plan to infiltrate and over run certain parts of the country by religious and ethnic supremacists. Could the South Western governors have gotten wind of this clandestine plot and acted in good stead to preserve their people and geographical ancestry, vis-a-vis the on-going widespread criminality?
“Could this be what General T.Y Danjuma was referring to when he stated last month that “if I tell you what I know is happening in Nigeria today, you will no longer sleep? Whatever the case, a people deserve the right to self preservation. The generally accepted police to civilian ratio is 1:450 or approximately 225 police officers for every 100,000 people.”
Meanwhile, the Yoruba World Congress, YWC, an umbrella body of all Yoruba Socio-cultural and self determination groups plans a solidarity walk in support of Operation Amotekun.
A statement by the Director of Contacts and Mobilization of the group, Mr Victor Taiwo said, the walk would take place in all the South West states capital simultaneously, Lagos, Abeokuta, Ibadan, Osogbo, Akure and Ado-Ekiti respectively from 9a.m., on Tuesday (tomorrow).
“All Yoruba people are urged to come out in their millions any where they are in Oduduwa land on Tuesday to show to the world that Amotekun has come to stay.
“We must show the external forces and their internal collaborators who want to stampede our resolve to protect ourselves, safeguard our land from kidnappers, armed-robbery and put an end to consistent destruction of our farm lands that enough is enough.
“Well-meaning Yoruba people and leaders of thought would be at designated venues to address the protest. We want to assure our governors that Yoruba people are behind them on Amotekun. We urge them not to shiver and they must never shiver. It is no retreat, no surrender. We will not surrender Amotekun.
“On the meeting points, those in Lagos are to converge on Gani Faweyinmi Freedom Park, Ojota; Oyo: Opposite Agodi Cenotaph, Ibadan; Ogun: Pansheke Junction, Abeokuta; Osun: Nelson Mandela Freedom Park, Osogbo; Ondo: Alagbaka Roundabout, opposite First Bank, Akure while those in Ekiti are to converge on Fajuyi Round about, Ado-Ekiti.