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South-West Govs Resist FG, Say No Going Back on Amotekun

The Chairman of South-west Governors Forum and Ondo State Governor, Chief Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), and Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, Thursday ruled out scrapping the South-west security network, Amotekun, on account of federal government’s opposition to its establishment.

Speaking against the backdrop of Tuesday’s declaration of the regional security network as illegal by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, Akeredolu told reporters yesterday in Akure that Amotekun was legal and the governors were ready to defend the continued existence of the security network that was launched last Thursday in Ibadan.

Soyinka also urged the governors to ignore Malami and not waiver in their commitment to protect lives and property in the geo-political zone.

While Akeredolu spoke at the Ondo State Cenotaph, Akure, during the grand finale of the 2020 Armed Forces Remembrance Day, Soyinka bared his mind on the matter at a news conference in Lagos.

Malami’s position on Amotekun, however, received knocks from lawyers, particularly Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), who said the governors broke no law in establishing the regional security outfit to protect the lives and property of their people.

Some of the SANs who spoke in favour of the governors include: Chief Solomon Asemota, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba, Dr. Kayode Olatoke, Mr. Ahmed Raji and Mr. Dayo Akinlaja.

Akeredolu, who was obviously not pleased with the federal government’s declaration of the outfit as illegal, stated that the governors were prepared to pursue Amotekun to a logical conclusion.

“Amotekun is not a paramilitary outfit, but a full-fledged security outfit ready to complement the operations of both the police, armed forces and other security agencies in confronting security issues in the region.

“We have a duty to ensure security of our people and that was why you elected us. Amotekun was launched to confront challenges of kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry in Ondo State and in the South-west.

“There is nothing illegal about Amotekun and like I said, we shall pursue it to a logical conclusion in the interest of our people,” Akeredolu said.

He urged chairmen of local governments in the state to erect befitting cenotaphs at their respective areas for the annual celebration of the Armed Forces Remembrance Day.

He said the facelift being given to the Akure Cenotaph would continue until the desired standard was attained.

According to the governor, the nation remains grateful for the selfless service of the armed forces through their contributions and sacrifice.

The governor described the annual Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration as a unique opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices made in the past years by the Nigerian Armed Forces to ensure global and internal peace and security of lives and property.

However, speaking on the federal government’s declaration of Amotekun as unconstitutional, Soyinka warned President Muhammadu Buhari to be careful not to go down in history as the president who led the country to the point of irreversible division.

He urged the governors to defy Malami and go ahead with the operation of Amotekun.

Soyinka said: “Whether they like it or not, Amotekun has come to stay because it is a creation of the people and you cannot deny a people their fundamental rights to protect themselves since government has failed to provide such protection.

“This has been a result of collective consciousness by people of this region. These governors met and they came up with this solution, Amotekun. Now, some people who have been sleeping all this time, taking belated actions in many directions, who watched the citizens of this nation decimated, villages wiped out, and farmers chased off their land. They are now coming out to tell us that this initiative is illegal, unconstitutional. I think they should go back to sleep.

“I prefer to believe that the government itself has not spoken. I refuse to believe that any serious government will raise any objection to this kind of initiative. Amotekun has come to stay.

“Amotekun is only a part of the story. It should not be the only solution to insecurity. We should move from Amotekun to Awosikun. In other words, we should start thinking in terms of how to feed our own people.”

Tracing the history of the Federal Roads Safety Corps (FRSC), which he was the pioneer chairman, Soyinka said having been tired of watching his students and colleagues at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) die of road accidents, he wrote a proposal to the governor of a state, adding that there were similar suggestions already.

According to him, this led to the establishment of the FRSC.

“I have always believed passionately in self-policing. If it were possible to eliminate any kind of formal policing, I am for it. My preference is always, as much as possible, for community policing.

“This is to show how effective a determined community force can be. Policing the road is not the same thing as going into the forest to confront kidnappers, herdsmen and terrorists, but the policy remains identical,” Soyinka added.

The governors also received support from senior lawyers and others as they faulted the federal government’s claim that Amotekun is illegal.

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