The national secretary of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Saleh Alhassan, Tuesday, said his organisation is afraid that if the Amotekun security outfit is allowed to operate, it could turn out to be a disaster for Nigeria. Alhassan, who was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, likened the initiative to the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), which he claimed has the history of heinous crimes and killings. He also described the initiative as a threat to Democracy.
“For us, Amotekun, the Yoruba tribal militia is one of the greatest threats to democracy we now have in place. You cannot empower an ethnic militia that has violent crime,” Alhassan said, adding: “We are afraid because if they don’t tame this monster at an early stage, it is going to be a serious disaster for the country. Essentially what you have as Amotekun is OPC that have a history of ethnic crimes and killings. And the proponents of Amotekun have not hidden who their targets are. They have consistently said their target is to displace the herders from the Southwest.”
He accused those backing the creation of the security outfit of planning to displace the herdsmen in the Yoruba-speaking states. Alhassan’s comments came two weeks after Amotekun, officially known as the Southwest Security Network, was launched by the governors of Southwestern states as part of an integrated approach to fighting crime in the region.
The Federal Government described the initiative as illegal, noting that no other authority at the state level whether the executive or legislature has the legal authority to set up its own security outfit. “The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) has established the Army, Navy and Airforce including the Police and other numerous paramilitary organizations for the purpose of the defence of Nigeria” Special Assistant, Media and Public Relations in the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu said.
The incendiary comments by the Miyetti Allah spokesman came as armed mobile policemen took over the Gani Fawehinmi Park in Ojota, venue of a pro-Amotekun rally in Lagos. Code-named “Amotekun Solidarity Walk.” It was organized by Yoruba World Congress (YWC) to peacefully protest and show support for the new security outfit set up by governments of southwestern states. But the heavy security presence along the roads and other nearby recreation parks made sure the rally did not hold. YWC had called on Yoruba sons and daughters to come out in large numbers on Tuesday to participate in a rally in support Operation Amotekun.
However, the president of the Yoruba Council of Youth (YCY), Oladotun Hassan claimed the police said they were directed to stop the solidarity walk by the Attorney General and Justice Minister Abubakar Malami. “If anything happens to any Yoruba tribe we will hold him responsible,” Hassan told reporters. He said: “We are tired of these senseless killings. From the report I received in Ogun and Osun States, armed police officers are at their respective venue of the protest to hinder the solidarity walk.”
Meanwhile, the solidarity walk held at the Remembrance Arcade, opposite Government House, Agodi, Ibadan, amidst heavy security as uniform and plain-clothes security operatives including the police, Department of State Services (DSS), and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) besieged the venue in large numbers. The heavy security presence with over 10 police patrol vehicles instilled fear and apprehension on participants as to the certainty or otherwise of the protest holding as schedule.
No fewer than 78 socio-cultural and militia groups under the aegis of Yoruba World Congress led by Emeritus Prof. Banji Akintoye, facilitated the solidarity walk across the six states of the South-west to make public their alignment with the decision of the South-west governors in embarking on the regional security outfit to address the various security challenges facing the region as a whole. Groups present at the walk include Hunters Group of Nigeria, Yoruba Youth Socio-cultural Association (YYSA), Agbekoya group, Atayese, Yoruba Reconciliation Groups, Kaaro Ojiire group, Oodua People Congress, Majiyagbe Group Vigilante group, United Self Determination People, Oodua Liberation Movement, Oodua Sovereignty Defence Agenda, Ojulowo Omo Oodua Group and Soludero group, among others.
The placard-bearing protesters also sang various solidarity songs to express their determination to support the South-west governors and ensure the security outfit works. Inscriptions on some of the placards read: “Yoruba Omo Oodua: Protect Yourself, Amotekun”, “On Amotekun we stand”, “We want to know who owns the Land. Amotekun” and “No Amotekun, No Hisbah” among others. Despite the tense security situation, the group defied police orders and marched from the Government House to the Oyo State Government Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan where they were received by the Chief of Staff to Governor Seyi Makinde, Chief Bisi Ilaka.
While addressing journalists on the purpose of the solidarity walk, the Head of Security, Yoruba World Congress, Kunle Adesokan, said the people are out to create awareness and also encourage the South-west governors not to yield to pressure to back down on the security outfit. He faulted the calls by some sections of the country that the South-west region may lose its presidential bid if it didn’t back down on the Amotekun project, stating that Nigeria belongs to everybody and not only any particular group or interest.