By Samuel Adegoke
The Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission has disclosed the reason Amotekun Corps has not taken off in the six South West states of the country.
The commission in a statement on Tuesday, signed by its Director-General, Mr Seye Oyeleye, explained that the six states were in the process of recruiting personnel into the corps when coronavirus became a pandemic in March, which necessitated restriction of movements and a ban on gathering of people in the country.
The commission initiated the Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN), codenamed Operation Amotekun in September 2019, as a regional response to the growing insecurity in the South West. But (WNSN) was declared illegal by the Attorney General of the Federation Abubakar Malami (SAN), thereby forcing its establishment to state-by-state basis. But they retained the same name, insignia, operational procedure, training and agreed to work together to overcome geographical boundary hinderances for effectiveness. They will now be known as Amotekun Corps in each of the six states.
In the statement entitled: COVID-19 Pandemic: Amotekun and the Call for Deployment in the Wake of Insecurity in the Region, DAWN Commission explained that the states were yet to conclude their recruitment before COVID-19 broke out which automatically prevented the commission from conducting training for the personnel as scheduled.
It added that the Ondo State Governor, who is also the Chairman of Western Nigeria Governors Forum, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) had announced that the corps would take off in April according to recruitment and training schedule but that restrictions on gathering and other activities grounded the entire process.
Many commentators in the traditional and social media have been calling for the deployment of Amotekun in the wake of the current attacks on residents in some parts of Ogun, Lagos and Oyo States during the restriction period. But DAWN said neither the commission nor the governors would risk deployment of untrained personnel for security operations in the communities as it will be counter-productive.
“The Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN) codenamed Amotekun, which was launched on January 9, 2020 by the governors of the States of Western Nigeria (SoWN) has been passed into law by the states. To ensure that it has an institutional framework, DAWN Commission, with some security experts, came up with the Standard Operating Procedure that clearly defines the role of the Amotekun operatives, their engagement with the people living in the region as well as with the conventional police since WNSN is to complement the efforts of the Federal Government-owned security agencies to tackle insecurity in the region.
“To make Amotekun strong and efficient when it eventually commences operation, DAWN Commission and the state representatives drew up a template for the recruitment and training of the Amotekun personnel. This is to ensure uniformity in the recruitment process and particularly, to instill in the personnel, the ethics of Omoluwabi through the training, as this is what WNSN symbolizes. Almost all the states in the region have started recruiting prospective personnel for the security outfit. But as agreed upon at one of the meetings of the special advisers to the governors on security matters, there has to be a common template for training. This is to ensure a uniform mode of operation across the region.
“Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu who is also the Chairman of the Western Nigeria Governors Forum (WNGF) said in one of his recent interactions with journalists that the security outfit and the deployment of the Amotekun vehicles would take off in April 2020 across the region. This explains why DAWN Commission had to convene series of meeting with the SAs on security, commissioners for regional integration as well as other stakeholders, just to make sure that no critical area is left behind before the take-off in April as proposed by the governors.
“Unfortunately, the whole process has been stagnated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has made the gathering of the personnel for training difficult and unadvisable. The emergency situation posed by this deadly virus has also brought about some security challenges in some states in the region as a result of some measures being taken by the governors to prevent its spread. For instance, in the wake of recent activities of hoodlums and street urchins, some concerned Nigerians have asked why Amotekun has not been deployed to intervene.
“It is imperative to note that the six governors in the region prioritize the issue of security as it affects the lives and property of the citizens. But they are also aware of the need to avoid negative feedback from the people, the enrolment into Amotekun has to be thorough since the governors would be held accountable if the outfit goes outside its mandate. As a result of this, one would not expect the personnel to put on uniform, or the Amotekun vehicles deployed without proper training and mapping out of areas to be secured.
“At this juncture, it is important to state that some vigilante and self determination groups are working with the police and other security agencies operating within the region, to flush out these criminals. We also want to assure all that as soon as COVID-19 pandemic is over, DAWN Commission shall work with the states in continuing the process of recruiting, which has not been completed in the states, and to ensure that the uniform training as directed by the governors is conducted before the deployment of personnel and vehicles.
“DAWN Commission wishes to assure the general public that Western Nigeria Security Network (codenamed Amotekun) has come to stay. It is unfortunate that the COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted the operational take-off, but as soon as the coast is clear for resumption of activities and a return to our daily lives, the training of Amotekun personnel will commence in earnest and we shall soon be enjoying the services of the outfit across the region,“ the statement said.