As criticism continues to trail the Federal Government’s declaration of Operation Amotekun illegal, another spanner was thrown into the works after angry reactions trailed Miyetti Allah Kaute Hore’s warning to Southwest governors to disband Amotekun, saying that failure to do so may affect the geopolitical zone’s chance of producing the next president in 2023. Miyetti Allah, in a very controversial statement yesterday, described the security outfit as political; drawing the anger of notable Southwest leaders, and the Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, which berated Miyetti Allah, saying the North can go to hell with its presidency.
The national secretary of Miyetti Allah, Alhassan Saleh said: “The entire North is suspicious of the outfit because of the OPC experience under Obasanjo. The motive of the security outfit is not clear to us. Our concern is that the outfit will be deployed against innocent herders. A section of the Southwest political class is in alliance with the Biafrans that are calling for the balkanization of the country. We actually see the outfit as an Nnamdi Kanu wing in the Southwest.
“Miyetti Allah is totally against the creation of ethnic paramilitary security outfits like this because of our sad experiences in Benue, Plateau and Zamfara. The South West will definitely lose political support from the north if they continue along this sectional trajectory. The alliance that produced Buhari/ Osinbajo is actually good for stability of democracy and our concern is that this new approach by South West governors and opinion leaders will destroy the alliance. It is better we express our concerns now instead of resorting to self-help,” the statement noted.
In a strongly worded reaction, Afenifere National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, lampooned the herders’ association, dismissing its remarks as insolence. Odumakin said: “Miyetti Allah now owns the Presidency which they can give as gift to who they want and deny who they choose? What insolence? Cow herders threatening a people that produced the first lawyer in 1879 because a lawyer who doesn’t know the law is overreaching himself? Can they go and tell Yoruba in the Benin Republic such idiocy? “It is now a crime that we inhabit the same country with them? If Yoruba would be colonised, is it by those we should employ on our ranches? To hell with their presidency if the condition for it is that we must allow them to continue to waste the lives of our people. Who told these people Yoruba cannot opt for self-determination and have our own president? If they see the protection of our lives as politics, we are definitely in a wrong and impossible country.”
Also blasting Miyetti Allah, Afenifere chieftain, Pa Ayo Adebanjo said the herders should go to blazes with the presidency. “Let Miyetti Allah go to blazes with the presidency. What we are interested in is in the restructuring of the country, we are not keen on the presidency. Who are they deceiving? Let us restructure Nigeria first before talking about 2023. We are not interested in the 2023 presidency until Nigeria is restructured. For all I care, they can go to blazes with their presidency,” Adebanjo said.
In his reaction, the leader of the Yoruba World Congress, emeritus Prof Banji Akintoye, said the Southwest will not allow its citizens to be killed because of the presidency. Akintoye said: “What is the presidency? Is that a commodity that they are holding in their hand? Because we want the presidency, should we allow ourselves to be killed without defending ourselves? Is that what they are saying? So, they want us to lie down and allow marauding herdsmen to kill us and then have the presidency. Our answer to that is we cannot fold our hands and allow you kill us again.”
The Vice-Chairman of Ibadan branch of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Ibrahim Lawal, also blasted Miyetti Allah, saying the statement that the governors’ continued support for Amotekun might hurt the southwest’s chances of getting the presidency in 2023 was unfortunate. “Are they the ones to determine who will get the ticket? What is their population? We are talking about safeguarding the lives and property of the people; they are talking about someone wanting to be president. How does it affect us? We are saying we don’t want anybody to kill our people, you are talking about 2023, are they saying we should not protect ourselves because of 2023 election? Are they the ones responsible for insecurity in the southwest? What is their interest?” Lawal queried.
All the bile and vitriol came as Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, disclosed that the national security agencies were properly informed before the establishment of Amotekun. He said the conventional security agencies were carried along and had agreed to support the operation of the joint security organisation. Fayemi, who is also the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), spoke at the 17th edition of the Daily Trust Dialogue in Abuja. According to him, Amotekun is not a duplication or replacement for the Nigeria Police but was established to complement the existing security agencies.
The Federal Government had through the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, proclaimed the joint security outfit as illegal. Malami said that the establishment of army, police and other security outfits was on the exclusive list which could only be exercised by the Federal Government. But Fayemi argued that while some commentators see conflict in the establishment of Amotekun, the move would further deepen public debate on the idea of community policing. “We see Amotekun as a logical end product to the community police debate. That is why we say it is to complement the police in response to security challenges, information gathering and so on. In the process of doing this, the conventional security agencies were taken along and they have agreed to collaborate with us.
Meanwhile, more groups from within and outside the country have urged the Federal Government to reverse its decision on Amotekun. In a statement yesterday, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Scandinavia countries said Amotekun stood to be of immense benefit for the overall security of the country. “The creation and launch of Amotekun by the Southwest governors should be encouraged. The insecurity challenges across Nigeria seem to be overwhelming for only security agencies alone to handle as of now. The governors already made it known that the outfit was established not as an arm of the security forces in Nigeria, but it is a joint neighbourhood security outfit to make security of lives and property easier in the region. We appeal to the Federal Government to think of it more from a holistic perspective and see it for what it is, encourage it, develop appropriate strategies to ensure the effectiveness of the outfit and jettison whatever fear they may have,” the group said.
The National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), in a statement in Enugu by its National Public Relations Officer, Mr. Bestman Okereafor, described the Amotekun’s structure, which is from the village hunters to other known vigilance groups working together in line with the Nigeria Police, as presenting the best form of community policing. According to the NYCN, this grassroots-oriented and bottom-up structured as well as all-involving security framework, which Amotekun presents, is the ideal framework for modern policing to checkmate emerging criminality in rural and remote communities.
Another group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), urged the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), heads of security forces, and especially the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu, to be careful so they don’t convey the express impression that the security of the lives and property of people outside Northern Nigeria is not sacrosanct and constitutionally guaranteed. In the statement by the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, yesterday in Abuja, the group said “such hostile attitudes to the setting up of the south west security initiative is unlawful, unconstitutional and an aberration.” HURIWA also reminded the heads of security forces that they are “not in public offices to carry out only such instructions that exclusively favour a section of the country based on religious/ethnic or pedestrian considerations.”
Also, the Ekiti Council of Elders (ECE) implored the Federal Government to fashion out harmonious working relationship between the Amotekun and other zones or state arrangement targeted at protecting Nigerians with its security agencies. The elders, while reacting to the proclamation by Malami that Amotekun was illegal, wondered whether such a position “actually represents the true feelings of the Federal Government.” In a statement in Ado Ekiti yesterday signed by the ECE President, Professor Joseph Oluwasanmi; General Secretary, Niyi Ajibulu; and Public Relations Officer, Dr Bayo Orire, the council said the Federal Government was expected to be exploring all reasonable avenues towards securing the safety of lives and property of its citizens. The council also reiterated calls for a national dialogue towards running the nation as a federal system.
The Yoruba Youth Socio-cultural Association (YYSA) Worldwide said Operation Amotekun had nothing to do with politics. In a statement in Ibadan by its National President, Olalekan Hammed, the group said: “Amotekun security outfit launched by southwest governors has nothing to do with politics. It was done with undefiled intention to put an end to unending menace of criminals that had been unleashing terror continuously in the southwest region. “Important personalities, including northern governors have lauded the idea, vowed to emulate our region by setting up similar security outfit to curtail criminality in the north.”
The Oyo State chapter of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), said it was in support of Amotekun. Its chairman, Ayodeji Abass-Alesinloye, who spoke at the new year get-together and review of 2019 activities held at the association’s office, Ibadan, said the association would support any move geared towards protecting lives and property.
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, pledged maximum support for Amotekun, saying the outfit had come to stay regardless of the Federal Government’s stance on it. The IPOB leader, in a statement, praised the initiators of the outfit, describing the arrangement as laudable. He assured the southwest of the readiness of his movement to provide the necessary manpower to the outfit. “The final and definitive stance of the Biafran people is that IPOB will support Operation Amotekun with all our might. “Regardless of the history of politics that may have existed between the East and the West in the past, we have sworn to work with this generation of Yoruba leadership, with the likes of Pa Ayo Adebanjo, Yinka Odumakin, Femi Fani-Kayode and Omoleye Sowore at the helm.
“I will support this generation of Yoruba that set up Amotekun. IPOB will work with them. If they want one million men, I will provide them to ensure this expansionism is stopped. IPOB will back Amotekun security outfit. Amotekun is not going anywhere. It is here to stay and IPOB will support it.”