– AMOTEKUN: SECURING THE PEACETHISDAYLIVE – THISDAY Newspapers
Dwelleth Morountodun writes that the Oyo State command of Amotekun Corps is rising up to the challenge
In today’s dizzying and fast-paced world, emplacement of security across board has become everybody’s concern. It is therefore not an anomaly that security is perhaps one of the most discussed topics anywhere and anytime in the world today. On daily basis especially in the print, electronic and social media, one hears about senseless killings of innocent persons and property occasioned by terrorist activities, banditry and criminality not only in our country, but across other jurisdictions.
The 2020 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) released by Vision of Humanity says that Nigeria is the third country most impacted by terrorism. For eleven years now Nigerian has been battling the Boko Haram and ISWAP among other militant groups. Within that period, other security challenges have surfaced resulting in kidnapping, farmers/herders’ clashes and armed robbery. Truth be told, Nigerians neither enjoy security or welfare which the 1999 Constitution of the country in section 14 (2) (b) says is the primary purpose of government.
In order to find solutions to these security challenges, the idea of a collaborative security outfit among the six states in the South-West (Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Ekiti) came out of a summit held in Ibadan on 25th June 2019. The insecurity put considerable pressure on the South-west governors at a time that many farmers were being forced to abandon their only means of livelihood and villagers were deserting their homes due to incessant attacks.
Held under the auspices of the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission, the Director General, Mr. Seye Oyeleye, had assured before the meeting that the outcome would provide concrete ideas on how to secure the region. That idea birthed the Amotekun Corps.
To this end, the Western Nigeria Security Network, otherwise known as “Operation Amotekun,” was thus established on January 9, 2020 to tackle head-on the insecurity in the region. Since its establishment, the Oyo State command of Amotekun Corps has risen up to the challenge. It has been supported by Governor Seyi Makinde administration which has been investing massively in security and Amotekun in particular by providing operational vehicles, communication equipment, ballistic jacket/helmets, non-prohibitive arms within the prescribed laws. Additionally, operational logistics such as fueling, regular maintenance of vehicles, medical services for the corps members and regular payments of salaries are being provided to boost their morale.
Attesting to this in a recent media chat, the Commandant, Amotekun Corps, Oyo State, Col. Olayinka Olayanju (rtd), said “a befitting” State Headquarters is undergoing massive remodeling at Akinyele area of Ibadan. The complex, he added will have both operational and administrative facilities as well as modern training facilities for operatives. Col Olayinka therefore appealed to members of the public and well-meaning citizens both at home and in diaspora to support the government of Oyo State to do even more.
While commending Governor Seyi Makinde for his unalloyed support to the corps, the commandant pointed out that efforts are at advance stage to enroll corps members in the ‘Oyo health Insurance Scheme’ and to procure ‘Insurance policy’ with a reputable insurance company to cater for death, partial or permanent disability involving members and personnel. The commandant stressed that the state government recently promised to compensate families of corps members who unfortunately lost their lives in the line of duty with the sum of N2.5 million and the institution of scholarship schemes for the deceased personnel’s children. “This gesture, which gladdens the heart of all corps members, has gone to show that the government takes the issue of security seriously and that the welfare of those charged with protecting us seriously. The issue is not only about the compensation given – which is highly commendable, but the fact that life is precious and no amount of money can substitute for the loss of a loved one. Nonetheless, it goes to show that the Makinde administration is a caring administration,” the commandant stressed.
Olayanju, also pointed out that the corps is working in tandem with agencies within the state and South-west Amotekun commanders to ensure peace and stability so that citizens can go about their lawful duties. He said since its establishment last year, Amotekun has brought relative peace and stability to the state compared to the same period the previous year. “There has been a considerable difference with where we are now and where we were two years ago. Through our security strategies, we have been able to bring to the barest minimum incidences of suspected herdsmen attack in Oyo State. I want to commend the people of Oyo State for standing firmly behind Amotekun and giving us their unalloyed support.”
The Command has also been showing their human and compassionate side. For instance, Sarafa Ajayi of Pakoyi area Oyo West Local Government, whose life was saved by operatives of the corps, was filled with encomium for the well-trained men of Amotekun. Ajayi, who went for a time out at Akibest, a fun spot in the area, sustained gunshot wounds on her left shoulder and left buttocks following a violent clash between rival gangs of Eye Confraternity, a violent cult gang in the vicinity. The shootout between two rival gangs, Aye and Alora, attracted the attention of the Oyo Amotekun Corps who were on their usual patrol. The corps was able to restore sanity to the area by arresting some of the cultists and handing them over to the Police. Operatives also rushed the victim to the hospital.
“I want to sincerely thank Amotekun for saving my life,” Sarafa Ajayi said. “If Amotekun had not arrived when they did I wouldn’t be alive today. Their promptness in taking me to the hospital saved my life.” Another resident, Olarewaju Gbadamosi, who was mugged and his personal belongings stolen from him was full of praises for Amotekun for being on ground to help him. “I was walking toward the bus stop at night when three men accosted me and demanded I give them my mobile phone and laptop. Seeing that I was outnumbered I gave them the phone and laptop, but one of them hit me with a metal and I started bleeding. I started shouting from pain and my shout attracted a patrol team of Amotekun who came and rescued me. They also apprehended the criminals. I thank members of the patrol team for also conveying me to the hospital for treatment and also for retrieving my phone and laptop.”
The corps is also at the forefront in containing the farmers/herders clash in the state. Alhaji Oladega Ismail of Iseyin Local Government Area whose large cassava farm was ravaged by cattle applauded the bold move by Amotekun to forestall the breakdown of law and order in the area following activities of herdsmen. “I got an urgent call from my foreman that Fulani herdsmen and their herd of cattle were in my farm eating up my cassava. I immediately rushed to the farm and what I saw was devastating. All my crops were uprooted and eaten by the cows. We called Amotekun who arrested the herders. They paid a mere N130,000 for their action. Though a symbolic gesture, I believe it may deter others in the future.”
Because of the achievements that the Amotekun strategy has evolved in security operations and peace building in the state, the Director General, Operation Burst, Oyo State, Col. Joseph Oladipo, praised the corps for its performance and presence in the 33 LGAs, stressing that they have that local knowledge of the localities and by so doing they provide local intelligence for collaboration by other outfits.
Morountodun, Online Journalist with Extraordinairenews.com, wrote from Ibadan