ANY operative who wants to serve in the regional security outfit Amotekun in Oyo State must get a letter of recommendation from his or her divisional police officer (DPO) and local government chairman attesting to their good character.
Over recent years, heavily-armed herdsmen have been running riot across Nigeria, engaging in kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry. To address the problem, the governors from across the southwest geo-political zone decided to launch a regional security outfit named Amotekun, which translates to leopard in the local Yoruba language.
Backing up their plans with an official launch in Ibadan, the six governors have supplied Operation Amotekun with vehicles and equipment. After several meetings with the inspector-general of police Mohammed Adamu, the six governors asked their attorney-generals to draft an Amotekun bill, which was sent to the houses of assembly this week after being approved by their respective cabinets.
At the moment, the bill is before the Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, Ondo and Osun state houses of assembly but Ekiti has become the first state to pass it into law. All that remains now is for Governor Kayode Fayemi to assent to the bill and Amotekun will become a legal and constitutional entity in Ekiti State.
Yesterday, the bill passed its second reading in the Oyo State House of Assembly as was the case in Ondo and Ogun states. However, Oyo lawmakers added a caveat that anyone wanting to serve with the outfit in their states must have their application forms endorsed by their DPOs and local government chairmen.
Section 19(1) of the Oyo State bill read: “A person may qualify to enlist into the Amotekun Corps if the person (a) has applied in writing to the Agency; (b) has received confirmation from the Divisional Police Officer in his local government area of residence that he is of proven character and integrity and has no criminal records and (c) has been endorsed by the chairman of his local government area of residence or the traditional ruler of the community where such a person resides.”
Section 14(1) says: “There shall be appointed by the governor, a corps commander for the agency, who shall be a retired law enforcement officer or military officer not below the rank of a major or its equivalent in other security service. Section 14(4) adds: “The Oyo State Amotekun Corps commander may be removed from office by the governor if the governor is satisfied that it is not in the interest of the public that he should continue to be in office.”
After the lawmakers deliberated on the bill, the speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Hon Adebo Ogundoyin, said members of the Amotekun outfit should be recruited from the same localities where they would work, adding that vigilantes, hunters and guards should be integrated into the association. Former Kaduna Central Senatorial District lawmaker Senator Shehu Sani, said the establishment of Amotekun is evidence that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has failed in securing the lives of Nigerians against Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, and kidnapping.
He called on other regional leaders in the north to emulate the creation of Amotekun to secure the lives and properties of the citizens in the states under the increasing wave of insurgency, banditry, and kidnapping. Senator Sani added: “In fact, Amotekun should be subsidised by the federal government because they are doing the job of the federal government.
“Amotekun is not different from state governors who decide to renovate federal roads or use the resources of the states to do what the federal government is supposed to do. If any one of them decides to renovate any building belonging to the federal government, will the federal government come and say it is unconstitutional?”
Meanwhile, the president of Southwest Soludero Hunters, Dr Nureni Akintola, said his group was prepared to serve Amotekun with all their might. He added: ” We are looking at a minimum wage of N30,000 but even when we were not being paid, we were working for the people.
“Police officers know that we were working for the people as we do not have any criminal record and for the past 11 years, we have a licence from the federal government to operate. Our covenant and oath are so strong that any of our members involved in criminal activities will die instantly.”