Governors in the South West Zone, on Thursday, in Ibadan flagged-off the operations of the Western Nigeria Security Network (Amotekun), stressing that it would complement the mainstream security agencies in the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti and Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo were present at the event.
Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun was represented by his deputy, Mr Benedit Alabi while Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun was represented by his deputy, Mr Noimot Salako-Oyedele.
Speaking at the occasion, Fayemi said Amotekun was not a duplication or replacement for the Nigerian Police.
He said, “Amotekun is a complement that will give our people confidence that they are being looked after by those they elected into office.
“So, we do not want this to create fear in the mind of anybody as we are not creating a regional police force and are fully aware of the steps we must take to have state police.
”We do not want anybody to misconstrue the concept of Amotekun.”
Fayemi said insecurity of lives and property in recent times was the main reason behind the formation of the security outfit.
He added that the mainstream security outfits had not been forthcoming in arresting the situation.
“It was in the context of the unfortunate development that we lost the daughter of Pa Rueben Fasanranti, the leader of Afenifere.
”And that further put pressure on us, as leaders in the Southwest, to do something about insecurity.
“As elected leaders, our primary responsibility, according to Section 14 (2) of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 as amended, is the security and welfare of citizens.
“That was what informed the governors coming together to fashion out a way to complement the work of the mainstream security agencies overstretched in their efforts to arrest the menace that have afflicted the entire country,” he said.
Fayemi said the announcement by Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, of the police commitment to community policing strategy was an indication that Amotekun had been embraced by the leadership of the mainstream security agencies.
He said Amotekun was a community policing response to the problem of insecurity in the country.
The governor said pending the time community policing strategy being put together by the Nigerian Police come to fruition, it was necessary to give the people a confidence boosting strategy.
”So, if you ask me, Amotekun is nothing but a confidence building strategy for our people in the six states of the Southwest,” he said.
On the mode of operation of the outfit, Fayemi said it would work as a joint task force with the mainstream security agencies.
He said having deep knowledge of the terrain, language, culture and history of the community where they would work, the outfit would be set apart from other agencies they would work with.
In his keynote address, Akeredolu said the outfit was only one of the many solutions being planned to tackle the many socio-economic problems facing the South West region.
He said that the six states each had procured 20 pickup vehicles and 100 units of motorcycles for the operations.
Akeredolu said the outfit would enhance the efforts of government in tackling security challenges across the zone and the nation as a whole.
He advised those that would be involved in the initiative not to politicise it.
The governor said none of the vehicles for the Amotekun outfit would be used for political campaigns during the election period.
Makinde, in his address of welcome, said it was the responsibility of the government to protect its citizens, adding that the governors took the oath to defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“What we seek to do is to keep our people safe, not fighting Nigeria but the elements among us that seek to destabilise our region.
“As governors of these states, it is our priority to ensure that both indigenes and settlers living within the boundaries of our various states carry out their legitimate activities in a secure environment.
“The security of their lives and properties should be of paramount importance,” he said.
Among the dignitaries at the flag-off were the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi and Prof. Banji Akintoye, leader of Yoruba World Congress.