The Director-General, Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission, Mr Seye Oyeleye, has made some clarifications on the operations of the Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Amotekun, explaining how personnel will be recruited, remunerated and organised.
On Monday, Oyeleye explained on Your View, a breakfast talk show on TVC that each state government will recruit and remunerate the personnel according to its security needs. He added that no state will pay the personnel less than the minimum wage which workers in the employ of each state government receive.
Oyeleye participated through a telephone call when the anchors of the programme led by Morayo Afolabi-Brown, seemed unsatisfied with the explanation given on the show by their guest, Mr Fatai Owoseni, who is the Special Adviser to Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde, on Security Matters.
The DAWN DG expressed surprise at speculations making the rounds that the personnel of Amotekun will be paid N13,500 monthly.
His words: “Maybe because we are in a social media age, people just sit behind their laptops and put out a story.
“The way the Amotekun is operating is that individual states are responsible for the recruitment and no state will pay below the minimum wage to whoever it recruits. So, the N13,500 story is what someone just plucked from somewhere and put it out to the public.
At no point during the implementation for Amotekun did we ever mention N13,500. So I am actually mystified where the figure came from.”
When asked if all the states will be able to pay the salaries which will be an addition to their current wage bills, Oyeleye replied: “As an example, assuming tomorrow state police were approved, the states will have to pay them. Amotekun will be funded by the states through their security trust funds. So I see no difficulty at all in paying the personnel.
“I have to emphasize this is not one army that is being set up and they would be paid centrally. As I said to you, the states are responsible. So, if your state has 300 members in your Amotekun, it will pay and I am not sure any state will pay below minimum wage but N13,500 figure is a false claim.”
On suggestions that the absence of three governors at the launch of the outfit in Ibadan was a sign that they were not in support of the project, Oyeleye said: “ Five governors were there – three governors and two deputies. The deputies represented their principals. It is challenging. Nigerians like to major on minor issues. All the states sent in their vehicles and personnel which clearly shows the six states are in sync. They were all painted in the same colour with the same logo, I am not sure a governor who didn’t come would have sent in his vehicles or the personnel if he was not interested. The governors that didn’t come had a genuine reason for not coming, it wasn’t like they are taking it lightly.”
In his own explanations, Owoseni said the fact that the Inspector General of Police (IGP) was not there did not mean that the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) did not support Amotekun. He said the outfit is just a stronger arrangement of the Vigilante which is register and has branches in all the states of the nation. He said they work with the police in every way, adding that their operation has helped the police greatly.
He stressed that Amotekun is just a regional outfit that will leverage the resources of six states and draw the benefits of collaboration against criminality.
The retired police officer, who was the Commissioner of Police (CP) in Lagos State, posited that those anxious to know Amotekun’s mode of operation are possibly criminals who want to identify how to beat the security outfit.
His words: “Those wanting to know the mode of operation of Amotekun are criminals. The outfit will take off and do its job accordingly.
“It is not compulsory for the Inspector General of Police to be at the launching. Most of the elements that are going to be used, I can talk of Lagos where I have worked; I have worked in Benue, even in Oyo State, all these states, even here in Lagos State, they have a law that is enacted, administered and guide how neighbourhood watch is operated. Most of the states have laws for vigilante people, the Vigilante Group of Nigeria, each of the states has that. There is practically no state that doesn’t have a law setting up community development associations and that is the umbrella under which they relate and the Nigeria Police has been part of this for a very long time.
“The DFID has a programme , I brought it out last week. There is one they call the voluntary policing sector and while I was here, they were very strong around Agege and they extended it to most parts of the state and they meet with police regularly. It doesn’t mean the Inspector General of Police has to sit down there. People are giving you all sorts of narratives and it is very unfortunate. No one has seen the concept.”
On the fear expressed by Myetti Allah who alleged that they were victimised by the local security structure set up by the Benue State government, Owoseni assured Amotekun will not victimise anybody.
He said: “You will not like it if you are a criminal. Those elements are supposed to co-operate within their abode. I have given examples from Ibadan where I came from this morning, if you are going to Ijebu Igbo which is Ogun State from Akanran, there is a main road that leads to Ijebu Igbo from Akanran in Ibadan. There are also footpaths inside the bushes that lead to Akanran and you are getting these elements that are called neighbourhood watch, vigilante but their operation is codenamed Amotekun for the purpose of networking. They were born in that village, they can tell you that there are 50 footpaths that lead from Akanran to Ijebu Igbo. It is like when you are sitting down now, you can enter this place from different angles”
The retired police boss also allayed fears that personnel and managers of Amotekun may abuse the privilege.
His words: “Even for state actors – the police, the military , the SSS – are Nigerians not saying they are trampling on people’s rights? These people have not even started. It is like you have a nightguard in front of your house. The guideline is very simple; the power you have of arrest is the same power they have of arrest. It is a different thing if you are saying they are creating a detention camp.
“Every citizen has a power of arrest, they can also give information. I have likened them to CCTV. In security, there is what is called HUMINT(Human Intelligence), it is for them to be at the back end. We’ve seen this. And when you talk of Miyetti Allah, you talk of people that are rearing animals. Every law must be obeyed. If I am rearing my animals and I deliberately to go and destroy somebody’s farm, is it lawful? Is it right?
“I have cited examples. When I was here, there were some deadly criminals that we got arrested here with information, the partnership with Neighbourhood Watch. What do they call community policing? That’s what they call community policing but the elite, because they have the opportunity, anything that is going to benefit the masses, they want to corrupt it, that is what is happening in this country.”