By Ayo Fadimu, Bankole Taiwo & Omobolaji Adekunle Abeokuta, Florence Abatta, Osogbo, Jacob Akintunde, Akure, Akinlabi Afolabi, Ibadan
Ondo State governor and the Chairman of Southwest Governors Forum, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu has reiterated the determination of the six Southwest governors not to bow to pressure on the issue of the SouthWest Security Network code named “Operation Amotekun”.
Akeredolu made this disclosure while addressing a large crowd of protesters who stormed his office in support of the operation
The governor who spoke through his Chief of Staff, Chief Olugbenga Ale, said “we are not ready to abandon our people. We shall stand by the people of the Yoruba race notwithstanding the pressure.”
He declared that no challenge from any individual or government agency would make the Governors of the South West to succumb on operation Amotekun.
“I am assuring the entire Yoruba people and the whole world that Operation Amotekun has come to stay. This is not an alternative to Police or any of the recognized security agency in the country,” Akeredolu stressed.
Just like in Ondo State, there were massive protests all over the Southwest States of Ogun, Lagos, Oyo, Osun, and Ekiti States over the Southwest security outfit, otherwise known as Operation Amotekun which was created by the Southwest governors to curb the high rate of insecurity in the region.
Last week, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami declared the security outfit as illegal, opining that issues of defense and security are under the exclusive list and not with the states.
and called for immediate disbandment. This however, drew the ire of many Stakeholders in Yoruba land who vowed to continue
In Abeokuta, the Coordinator of Amotekun Solidarity rally in Ogun state, Chief Olawale Taofeek said that the creation of SouthWest Security Network code named “Operation Amotekun” remained the surest way to combat all mannerly of insecurity challenges bedeviling the Southwest region of the country.
Rather than the unnecessary opposition from the federal government, Chief Olawale Taofeek said the central government should see this security outfit as one created to compliment efforts of all other security agencies and not to undermine or witch-hunt anyone or tribe.
He stated this while speaking to Journalists during the Amotekun solidarity rally organised by World Yoruba Congress held at Pansheke Fun Park, Abeokuta on Tuesday.
Security officers drawn from the police, Department of State Security Service (DSS) Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were stationed all around the park to ensure there was no break down of law and order.
Chief Olawale said the essence of the rally was to reach out to the larger members of the public and also inform the federal government that Amotekun has come to stay in as much as such informal security outfits like Hisbah, Azaru and Civilian Joint Task Force among others operate in the northern part of the country.
He explained that “we are here to reach out to the larger public. We want to tell the Federal government and the entire Nigerian populace that we want Amotekun in Southwest. If Hisbah can be in the Northern States, if there can be Azaru, there can be Civilian JTF, if there can be Vigilance groups, some of them even carry arms, arresting even legitimate police officers that are to be prosecuted. So, there is no reason why we should not consider Amotekun in SouthWest”.
“Besides, I want make it very clear that Amotekun is not to witch hunt anybody whatsoever. I think one of the major responsibilities is to protect the masses, the safety of lives and properties is the major responsibility of the government. And I see no reason why anybody, quote and unquote should say no to Amotekun”.
It is should be other way round, where the Federal government should give kudos to our Governors for complementing security efforts with Amotekun”.
The National Secretary of Committee of Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) Comr. Yinka Folarin while speaking at the event said in as much as Amotekun was created solely to protect fundamental right to life of the people, the federal government must not be seen to be the clog in the wheel of progress.
Folarin described establishment of Amotekun security outfit as response to the failure of the government in funding properly the security agencies, refusal to restructure the country and the unwillingness to implement community policing saying that all these have contributed largely to the disturbing security situation across the Southwest region.
While lauding the six state governors for taking the bull by the horn and launching the security outfit, the human right activist said the least expected of the federal government was to allow this security network fulfill its mandate of ensuring security of lives and properties in Southwest region.
Speaking with the newsmen at the event, the Commissioner of Police in the state, CP Kenneth Ebrimson said he was only around to ensure that his men were on ground to ensure that there was no breach of the law.
Ebrimson said “I am on routine visit, everyday, I go round the metro to ensure that every where is calm but I got intelligence reports that some groups yet unidentified are trying to protest or do rally and I just came around to talk to my men and place them to ensure that there is no breach of peace.
“Nobody told me , nobody wrote to me of any protest, my own duty is to ensure that I come out to ensure that there is no breach of peace, that law abiding citizens go about their business unhindered.
“My advice is to everyone, anyone who has to go about protesting as it is the right of every citizen as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.
“We are here to ensure that nobody harasses, intimidate or cause a breach of peace and go on wanton destruction of properties that we will not tolerate
“I have seen my police men they are well placed, they have started strategically and I have no problem with them, they are basically here to checkmate anyone who wants to take laws into their hands and the law will descend on that person ruthlessly”.
In Akure, Yoruba World Congress (YWC) led the peaceful rally in support of Operation Amotekun.
The rally which kicked off at the MKO Abiola democracy park, Akure by 11am was attended by youths from various tertiary institutions in the state, traders and artisans.
The participants who later moved to the palace of the Deji of Akure, Oba Ogunlade Aladetoyinbo and the office of the governor.
At the palace of the Deji of Akure, the monarch who spoke through his chief of staff, Toyin Aladetoyinbo urged those participating in the rally to maintain peace and carried out their activities lawfully.
The monarch said the people of Akure are in support of any ploy that will bring peace and cohesion to the South West region.
The coordinator of the groups, Mr Oluyi Akintade said the rally was to express support for the South West Governors on Operation Amotekun, urging the Governors not to bow to pressure from Federal Government.
He said “Operation Amotekun has come to stay in the South West and no force on earth can stop it. The people of Yoruba land are solidly behind the Governor and we shall continue to stand by them.
“The Yoruba people have spoken with one voice and we are determined to ensure that Operation Amotekun stays. We are appealing to the six Governors of the South West to stand by their people on this issue.”
The participants at the rally who wore clothes with the inscription of Amotekun and carried various Yoruba traditional objects, chanted various solidarity songs in support of Operation Amotekun.
In Ibadan, The Oyo State rally kick-started at Arcade ground in front of the Oyo state government house and lasted for hours.
The protest was organized by the Yoruba World Congress (YWC); an umbrella body of all Yoruba