FORMER Lagos State police commissioner Fatai Owoseni has shed further light on the creation of the Southwest Stakeholders Security Group known as Operation Amotekun yesterday saying that its members will be allowed to carry dame guns.
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.
Over the last week, they have supplied it with vehicles and equipment. Under the arrangements being planned, 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.
Mr Owoseni, who is the special adviser to the Oyo State governor on security, said Amotekun members will be allowed to carry Dane guns just like the way hunters are allowed to do. He, however, explained that the Amotekun vigilantes would not run a detention facility but would purely be an intelligence-gathering group.
“They will use Dane guns if it is necessary for them to use in some instances because hunters do carry them with their dogs. Those are their tools and it is not illegal.
“The power they have to make arrests is the same power you have. Every citizen has the power of arrest, when you arrest, you take to the police station.
“That is the same power. They are not going to operate a detention facility, it is non-state actors participating in security,” Mr Owoseni added.
He pointed out that the idea of Amotekun originated from a paper presented by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID). He said the paper was adopted by the Nigeria Police Force and was thus not inimical to the security structure of the country.
According to Mr Owoseni, Amotekun would act like CCTVs and be a source of intelligence to the conventional security forces. He added that Amotekun was not different from the local vigilantes like the uniformed neighbourhood watch in Lagos State.
Mr Owoseni said: “They are vigilantes but the southwest is just formalising them like different states have one vigilante group or the other. Even in Oyo State, the police command had been working with the vigilantes who are registered at every area command.
“The procedure and the guidelines for the support and harnessing them with the non-state actors and the conventional security were drawn by DFID and the force headquarters bought into it. A strategic paper was prepared and it was out of that the Nigeria Police Force issued the Force Order guidelines on community partnership with the police.
“So, it is not a new thing as the networking thing is not new. There used to be a G8 for the north-central geo-political zone when I was in the Federal Capital Territory command, as the G8 then was formed by the governors as the conventional security people but this one being done with the southwest are the community people, non-state actors.”