Lagos, Osun, Ekiti to recruit 1,320 militiamen On Operation Amotekun

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The new  security outfit geared towards tackling  kidnapping and criminal activities in the South-West, Operation Amotekun, gained momentum on Friday as Lagos, Osun and Ekiti state governments announced they would recruit about 1,320 militiamen for the purpose.

The announcement came barely two days after South-West governors led by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State inaugurated the outfit, also called Western Nigeria Security Network.

The development came just as the  police have identified about 52 deadly blackspots they would focus on  in collaboration with the militiamen.

The development came  amid the  announcement by  some social-political groups across the country endorsing the outfit, saying it would help tackle insecurity in the region.

The groups are the Arewa Consultative Forum, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Ijaw Youth Congress, Pan Nigeria Delta Forum, Middle Belt Forum and Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra

Announcing their plans to recruit  militiamen from the Oodua Peoples Congress, Agbekoya, Vigilantes and hunters, Lagos, Osun and Ekiti said the recruitment would be handled by each state in collaboration with  the  security agencies.

The Chief Press Secretary to Osun State Governor, Ismail Omipidan, said the state planned to recruit 700 locals that would work with the  conventional security outfits in the state.

Omipidan also  said all security agencies were involved in the recruitment, which according to him, was going on  smoothly.

He added that the role of  the militiamen  would be restricted to intelligence gathering.

He said, “The success of the Civilian JTF initiative in the fight against insurgency has encouraged us to engage the locals primarily in the area of intelligence gathering.

We are recruiting 700 locals and all security agencies are involved in the recruitment process. It is ongoing and I believe it will be completed soon.”

A top official of the state close to the Operation Amotekun said the state would inaugurate its own chapter of the  outfit  before the end of  the month.

He said, “ Osun will use the Olajokun Park in Gbongan as their operational base.  We are still perfecting the operational procedures and we should complete that  next week.

“What we want to do now is to have men on  patrol  to know the areas very well.  The people  we will  recruit will gather intelligence and send it to the operational base in Gbogan.

“They will not arrest anyone, they will  only gather information. We will recruit about 10 people  each through the local government areas and the local council development areas.

“These people understand the terrain, they understand the culture, beliefs and other things that can make them function better. It will be successful.”

Also, the Special Adviser on Security to Ekiti State Governor, Brig Gen Ebenezar Ogundana (retd), said on Friday that  Operation Amotekun would fully  take off as soon.

Ogundana said the states were awaiting the operational procedure which would define the mandate of the operators.

The security adviser said, “It will take off as soon as possible. The only thing we are waiting for is the standing operational procedure that is going to define our mandate so that we don’t send people out and something happened that we will not be able to explain. When we get the document, we will read it to them and we begin operation.”

Ogundana said they would  not  do  any   recruitment in Ekiti because “we have people we are going to use”.

He added, “We are using members of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria, it is an institution that is already on the  ground. The  Oodua Peoples Congress is a regional organisation that is fully on the ground that is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.  The hunters have a national association registered with the CAC too.

“These are the people we will use and we have them in Ekiti, we have them in every local government. We have contacted the local government and they will forward their lists to us. The kabiyesis are the ones coordinating the hunters and the head of the vigilante group has the list. That is what we are compiling.

“In Ekiti, we are looking at between 400 and 500 people for a start.”

Ogundana said the vigilantes, hunters and OPC members  to be recruited would be trained to enhance results for the outfit.

He  said, “The roles they are going to play is in terms of gathering information which will be localised and they will be located in their own atreas.”

Also, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, on Friday said the state had donated 20 vehicles and would recruit 120 people  to support Operation Amotekun.

Omotoso, who spoke with one of our correspondents, said although the state already had its local Neighbourhood Watch similar to  Operation Amotekun, it would continue to support any thing  that would promote peace in the region.

He said, “Lagos has donated 20 vehicles and in terms of personnel, we are going to contribute no fewer than 120. We also have a template on the same security. We have been running Neighbourhood Watch and it is working for us. But it does not mean that if there  is  any regional idea we would not support.That is why we have contributed vehicles in terms of equipment and 120 personnel in addition to other things that we are doing.”

The commissioner said Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu was not able to attend the inauguration of the outfit on Thursday because he already had a scheduled programme for that day.

Meanwhile, the  Arewa Consultative Forum, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Ijaw Youth Congress, Pan Nigeria Delta Forum, MASSOB and Middle Belt Forum, and the National Association of Nigerian Students on Friday said they were happy with the South-West security initiative.

The President, Ohanaeze, John Nwodo, who described it as laudable, said, “Nobody needs to tell any Nigerian today that your security is in your own hands.”

He said, “Can you run a federation where the federating units cannot control their domestic security?”

Also, the Secretary General of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Mr Anthony Sani,  said  Operation Amotekun  would help  tackle the security challenges facing  the region.

This was contrary to assertion from some youths in the region that the formation of the security outfit was a “military wing” of the Oodua Peoples Congress.

The ACF chief said there was nothing wrong with the South-West governors coming together to proffers solution to the security issues in their region.

Sani said, “There is no harm in coming together against collective challenges for common good.

“Similarly, it is in the place of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to guide and protect the observance of the constitution. If  the  South-West  goes against the constitution there is a way to caution them.”

The  leader of the youth wing of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Mr Famous Daunemigha, said, “There is nothing wrong with what the South-West has done if they did it within the confines of the law.”

MASSOB leader, Uchenna Madu, said, “We salute the courageous spirit of the Yoruba governors and their political, traditional, religious and opinion leaders in unity.”

IYC President, Mr Eric Omare, called on other regions like the South-East and South-South to emulate the South-West and establish their own security outfits to remain alive.

The MBF President, Dr Bitrus Pogu, said the only way to defend the country was for every  community to set up their own security arrangements, noting that the security forces had failed to defend the people.

A former Lagos State Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni, said Operation Amotekun officials  would be allowed to carry Dane guns just like the way hunters are allowed to do.

Owoseni, who is the Special Adviser to the Oyo State Governor on Security, said this during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Friday.

When asked if the Operation Amotekun men would be allowed to use Dane guns, he said, “(Yes) if it is necessary for them to use in some instances, because hunters do carry their Dane guns and go with their dogs. These are their tools and it is not illegal.”

He, however, explained that the outfit  would not run a detention facility but would purely be an intelligence gathering group.

When asked if they would be allowed to make arrests, the retired CP said, “The power they have to make arrest is the same power you have. Every citizen has the power of arrest. When you arrest, you take to the police station. That is the same power. They are not going to operate a detention facility. It is non-state actors participating in security.”

North will emulate South-West govs –Lalong

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum, Mr Simon Lalong, has said the North will soon launch  its own   outfit to combat the “peculiar” security challenges facing the region.

Lalong, who is the Governor of Plateau State, spoke in Abuja shortly after meeting with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Presidential Villa. He, however, clarified that the outfit would complement the work of the police and other security agencies.

He  visited Buhari to brief him on the renewed killings in Mangu Local Government Area of his state on Thursday, where at least 13 people  were officially confirmed dead.

The governor was reacting to a question on the decision to launch  Operation Amotekun to confront insecurity in the South-West.

Speaking with State House Correspondents, Lalong said, “I am the Chairman of Northern Governors’ Forum. We took a decision sometime last year. The situation in the South may not be the same with the North, but in the North we are also looking at some ways that will also address these issues. So, we have gone ahead to set up committees, those committees have done their work and we are going to meet to address these issues once and for all.

“Two, we have also agreed to key into the community policing idea and at the level of the committee we have already gone far. Each state is already neck-deep in community policing.”

On the latest killings in Plateau, he  said  the problem was caused by cattle rustlers.

Herdsmen won’t accept injustice from Amotekun, Miyetti Allah warns

Herdsmen under the umbrella of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore have expressed scepticism over the inauguration of Operation  Amotekun.

Miyetti Allah, however, warned that it would not condone acts of injustice meted out to any of its members by the officials of the outfit or any other vigilance group.

The National Secretary of the group, Alhassan Saleh, said this on Friday during an interview with Saturday PUNCH.

Saleh said, “We have no problem with them as long as they will not target our herders. We have our own defence mechanisms. We fight injustice anywhere, not only in Nigeria. So, if they end up meting out injustice to us, we will fight back. That is the truth but we are law-abiding.

“And as herders, we must herd our cows until there is an alternative provided for us. If they give us alternative, we will go there and if they say they don’t want us, those that want to leave, will leave but what we will not sanction is anybody taking the law into their own hands because we have a history of fighting injustice anywhere there is oppression.”

He stated that Miyetti Allah was not in support of cows straying into people’s farms but movement as guaranteed by the constitution must be respected.

Saleh recalled that herdsmen suffered acts of injustice when the Benue State Government set up the livestock guard which   ended up extorting money from innocent herders.

The secretary said Operation Amotekun  could be used  by politicians to perpetuate themselves in power by election rigging.

Saleh argued that  South-West governors should have remained true to their call for state police rather than opt for the Operation Amotekun option.

He stated, “When you empower groups and give them arms, the possibility is that others will follow suit and the central government will begin losing its power. Definitely, our politicians will begin to abuse these outfits.

“When it is election time, sitting governors will use the outfits to their advantage. The first casualties of such malfeasance will be the people of that state, because when they want to impose themselves, they use these people because they are already trained and armed just like in Benue State.

“At the end, the livestock guards ended up killing people. It is on record because people have been tried and jailed. So, it is not the way forward. If they cannot push the debate for state police, they should not do such half measures.”

Police identify 52 blackspots

According to police officials in Ekiti State, there are blackspots Operation ‘Amotekun’ need to cover in a bid to intensify security in Ekiti State.

These are: Iyemero Ekiti axis, area between Ayede Ekiti and Isan Ekiti, Ilejemeje council area, Iwaraja – Efon Alaaye, link road between Osun and Ekiti states, and Erio Ekiti – Efon Alaaye Road.

In Ondo State, police officials identified blackspots as Akunnu-Auga Road, Sobe along Benin-Owo Expressway, Oba Akoko along Owo-Ikare Road, Benin-Ore Expressway, Ore-Shagamu Expressway, Ipele-Ido Ani-Isua Road and Akure-Ado road.

The Public Relations Officer, Femi Joseph, said the command was ready to work as soon as the operation started. He did not mention the blackspots.

“On the Operation Amotekun, we are ready to work with the state governments of the South-West, once the operation begins. We too are ready to work with it, we will focus more on the black spots and I believe it will be a successful exercise,” Joseph declared.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Abimbola Oyeyemi said blackspots had become notorious for various criminal activities such as kidnapping and robbery in the state.

He listed them as Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta Road, Fidiwo, Onigarri, Kara Long Bridge, Ogbere J4 ,Odogbolu Junction and Owode-Ilaro Road.

“We have some places we marked as vulnerable points like the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway especially along Fidiwo, Onigari, then towards Lagos, he added.

Police officials in Oyo State said there were over 20 black spots in the state. These, they said, were scattered around Ijebu Ode axis, Ogbomoso-Oyo axis, Oke Ogun axis and Oyo-Ogun border. They said some were also located in Moniya, Iseyin and Ogbomoso

Others in Ibadan are located in Akobo, Born Photo area, Beere, Iwo Road, Oojo, Gate and General Gas.

Officials in Osun State Identified over 15 black spots located around Ife-Ibadan Expressway and Ilesha-Akure Expressway.

Others are located in areas around Ikire, Ikoyi, Iwaraja, Akure-Ilesha Road, Ife-Ibadan Expressway among others.

According to police officials in Ekiti State, there are black spots Operation ‘Amotekun’ need to cover in a bid to intensify security in Ekiti State.

These are: Iyemero Ekiti axis, area between Ayede Ekiti and Isan Ekiti, Ilejemeje council area, Iwaraja – Efon Alaaye, link road between Osun and Ekiti states, and Erio Ekiti – Efon Alaaye Road.

However, the Commissioner of Police in Ekiti State, Mr Asuquo Amba, believes security strategies and mode of operations should not be revealed to public in order to achieve the goals.

In Ondo State, police officials identified black spots as Akunnu-Auga Road, Sobe along Benin-Owo Expressway, Oba Akoko along Owo-Ikare Road, Benin-Ore Expressway, Ore-Shagamu Expressway, Ipele-Ido Ani-Isua Road and Akure-Ado road.

The Public Relations Officer, Femi Joseph, said the command was ready to work as soon as the operation started. He did not mention the black spots.

“On the Operation Amotekun, we are ready to work with the state governments of the South-West, once the operation begins. We too are ready to work with it, we will focus more on the black spots and I believe it will be a successful exercise,” Joseph declared.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Abimbola Oyeyemi said black spots had become notorious for various criminal activities such as kidnapping and robbery in the state.

He listed them as Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta Road, Fidiwo, Onigarri, Kara Long Bridge, Ogbere J4 ,Odogbolu Junction and Owode-Ilaro Road.

“We have some places we marked as vulnerable points like the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway especially along Fidiwo, Onigari, then towards Lagos, he added.

Police officials in Oyo State said there were over 20 black spots in the state. These, they said, were scattered around Ijebu Ode axis, Ogbomoso-Oyo axis, Oke Ogun axis and Oyo-Ogun border. They said some were also located in Moniya, Iseyin and Ogbomoso

Others in Ibadan are located in Akobo, Born Photo area, Beere, Iwo Road, Oojo, Gate and General Gas.

Officials in Osun State Identified over 15 black spots located around Ife-Ibadan Expressway and Ilesha-Akure Expressway.

Others are located in areas around Ikire, Ikoyi, Iwaraja, Akure-Ilesha Road, Ife-Ibadan Expressway among others.

Source: Punch

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