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How Akeredolu Championed Formation Of Regional Security Outfit ‘Amotekun’

Southwest governors have been urged to sustain Amotekun to uphold Akeredolu’s legacy.

Citizens of Ondo State in particular and many more across the country including President Bola Tinubu have showered tributes on former governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, who passed away on Wednesday, the 27th of December 2023, after a long illness.

The former Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) occupied several leadership positions in the course of his life, both in his home state and the country at large, bringing about positive change for Nigerians in several areas.

However, notable among the many tributes celebrating his life, is how Akeredolu fought for the establishment of the Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN), also known as “Amotekun”, a regional security outfit formed to work hand in hand with the police and other security agencies to ensure heightened security in the western states in Nigeria.

On the 9th of January, 2020, the Southwest Governors Forum, a committee that was chaired by the late Governor Akeredolu, founded the security network which they named “Operation Amotekun” which was established to combat and curb insecurity in Nigeria’s Former western region which has over time been broken into six states. The six governors of Nigeria’s south-western states, who make up the forum, made this decision at the regional security summit that was held in Ibadan, Oyo State.

However, this decision was met with backlash from different quarters, as Amotekun’s formation was was termed “unconstitutional”.

The federal government, after the establishment of the security outfit, through the then Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami declared that Operation Amotekun is an illegal operation, asserting that it is not supported by the Nigerian constitution.

Section 214 part 1 of the Nigerian Constitution states, “There shall be a police force for Nigeria, which shall be known as the Nigeria Police Force, and subject to the provisions of this section no other police force shall be established for the federation or any part thereof.”

Those who were opposed to the establishment of Operation Amotekun then used this part of the constitution to say that the operation was illegal, and it would not be able to stand.

The Nigerian Police also issued a warning stating that they would apprehend any member of the group found to be in possession of illicit firearms.

Akeredolu, however, was very vocal about the necessity of the security agency, saying that the constitution, in fact, does not prohibit the governors from running Amotekun.

He noted that since protecting the people is the main duty of the government, it is up to the governors to determine the best course of action in protecting their states.

The Southern Governors Forum, however, met with Malami, after which both parties decided to give legal backing to the operation, although they clarified that it would be state-based rather than regional as initially thought.

The then Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, also met with the governors and concurred that the new programme will be carried out in collaboration with the police to address issues linked to crime.

Then, in August 2020, after the bill setting up the security outfit was passed into law by the Ondo state House of Assembly and signed into law, Akeredolu, then inaugurated the Ondo State Security Network Agency, code-named Operation Amotekun at the Gani Fawehinmi Arcade in Akure, making Ondo the first state to launch the Amotekun outfit.

During the inauguration, the former governor said community policing became necessary to curb all forms of insecurity in the state.

Akeredolu constantly championed the cause of Amotekun, even to the point of promising to procure arms for the security network after it had been termed as illegal. He said that if the Federal government allowed security outfits in certain northern states to bear arms, then Amotekun should be given that right as well.

The late governor spoke confidently of the security network, saying that the initiative can never fail. He noted that the state government had thoroughly trained the operatives to deliver appropriately in tackling the security challenges in the southwestern region.

In a country where state and regional policing has been termed as unconstitutional, Akeredolu stood his ground and championed the establishment of Amotekun to address the security challenges in South-West states, even getting collaborations with the government to make the security outfit more effective.

Following Akeredolu’s passing, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Oyo State Council, has, in this light, appealed to the governors in the South west to sustain Amotekun in order to immortalise Akeredolu and make sure that his efforts are not in vain.

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi

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