CHAIRMAN of Nigeria’s Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption (Pacac) and close adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari Professor Itse Sagay has thrown his weight behind the establishment of the regional security outfit Operation Amotekun.
Over recent years, heavily-armed herdsmen have been running riot across southwestern Nigeria, engaging in kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry. To address the problem, the governors from across the geo-political zone decided to launch a regional security outfit named Amotekun, which means leopard in the local Yoruba language.
Within the last week, the six governors have supplied Operation Amotekun with vehicles and equipment. Under the arrangements drawn up, the governments of the six states will train vigilantes, hunters and members of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) to provide security to provide intelligence for the official security services like the police, military and civil defence corps.
Throwing his weight behind the programme, Professor Sagay insisted that Amotekun was legal and was in line with the constitutional role of the governors as chief security officers of their states. He added that the Nigerian Police Force lacked adequate manpower to effectively secure a country of nearly 200m people, hence the establishment of Amotekun was in order.
Professor Sagay said: “I am positively disposed towards it as I think it is a good beginning not to depend completely on the federal government for our security. We should begin to rely more and more on ourselves so that those who feel the pain are those who try to take control of the security situation.
“We know that the police are few and they are stretched as we have about 250,000 policemen in a country of almost 200m, so, I think these regional security institutions are necessary. I believe the police should cooperate with them and help with their training and I believe eventually, they should even be armed so that we can have a lot more hands and local people involved in security.
“Perhaps that can lead to other benefits, such as economic cooperation and wealth creation and gradually, we’ll begin to regain what we lost when we lost the regions in the 60s, so, yes, I support it. It’s not state police and I think the people who created it have been careful as there is nothing in the constitution that precludes either states or an association of states from taking care of their security.
“There is this popular saying that the governor is the chief security officer of a state and that’s not an empty statement. They get a lot of money for security and I look at this as part of the responsibility of the governors acting jointly to provide greater security in the southwest.”