South-West states set for Operation Amotekun takeoff January 7
South-West governors will on January 7, inaugurate Operation Amotekun, a security strategy meant to combat killings and kidnapping in the zone.
The Ekiti State Commissioner for Information, Mr Muyiwa Olumilua, who said this in an interview with one of our correspondents on Wednesday, said vehicles and equipment for the security outfit were ready.
He stated that the inauguration was delayed by the need for all the states to be adequately ready in terms of meeting the requirements.
The governors had, in September, after a meeting in Akure, said they would set up Operation Amotekun, following serial killings and kidnapping in the zone by Fulani herdsmen.
In June, gunmen, suspected to be herdsmen, killed Funke Olakunri, a daughter of the Afenifere leader, Reuben Fasoranti, on the Ondo-Ore road.
There were cases of kidnapping, including the abduction of a lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Prof. Olayinka Adegbehingbe, in May, at the Ikoyi/Apomu junction of the Ibadan-Ife Expressway in Ikire, a border town between Osun and Oyo states.
Also, a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God and four others were kidnapped at the Ogbere area of Ogun State in August.
Leaders of some ethnic groups in Yorubaland like the Oodua Peoples Congress and Agbekoya, had, in November, said they were awaiting South-West governors to request personnel from them for the joint security outfit.
The Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Chief Gani Adams, had, in an interview with Sunday PUNCH on November 10, said, “The present stage is that the group is awaiting the response of the governors so that we can know the number of security personnel needed.”
But three months after the governors said they would start the operation, the security outfit had yet to be inaugurated despite the worsening security situation in the zone.
For instance, members of the Orin-Ekiti community in the Ido/Osi Local Government Area of Ekiti State recently lamented that the invading herdsmen had vandalised farms worth N50m owned by 70 farmers in the area.
The Ekiti State Commissioner for Information, Olumilua, in the interview with The PUNCH, said, “Everything is set now. On the 7th of January, it (Operation Amotekun) will be launched obviously. All the states have to be on the same page. They were trying to be sure that all requirements were in place.
“Right now, all the states are ready with their requirements. All the states are set for January. It is not a matter of contribution of money. It is about equipment, vehicles and other things like that.
“As far back as the past two months, Ekiti has bought its vehicles – 20 pick-up trucks – for the purpose. Remember, the vehicles must have communication equipment. All those ones are ready for the launch.”
Olumilua said the state government had strengthened the security architecture in the state to stop killings and kidnapping.
The commissioner said, “Intelligence is usually secret, but we have a lot in place. We have adequately funded, encouraged and mobilised the police. We have made sure we have eyes and ears in the different communities.”
Also, the Ogun State Government said it was ready for the inauguration of the Operation Amotekun.
The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Kunle Somorin, stated this on Wednesday while answering questions on the delay in the operation.
Somorin said, “It is a regional initiative. All the six states in the region must agree to start at the same time. Once they agree on a date, they will start. They have agreed with the Amotekun principle, others are operational details.
“Each state is expected to get 20 Hilux trucks. We even have more than enough. We have bought our own. The agreement is that everybody will provide 20 Hilux trucks.”
On his part, the Special Adviser to the Ondo Governor on Security Matters, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo, said, “ It will be difficult for me to give a date for the launch because I have not got an answer from Oga (the governor). When he is back, he will be able to give us the date but definitely it is not going to be this year again, probably next year.”
On the resurgence of kidnapping on the highways in the zone, Dojumo said the government was being proactive about it, saying security agencies in the state were already at work to tackle the challenge.
On its part, the Osun State Government said it was awaiting the date for the inauguration of the initiative.
Chief Press Secretary to Osun State Governor, Ismail Omipidan, told one of our correspondents that the state had procured 20 operational vehicles.
He added that the state had completed work on its helipad and the citizen contact centre as well as a base that would be used for the operation.
As of the time of filing this report, Taiwo Adisa, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State could not be reached. Text messages that were sent to his phone were not replied.
But the Police Public Relations Officer, Oyo State Command, Mr Olugbenga Fadeyi, said the state government boosted crime-fighting by procuring 66 operational vehicles for patrol services across the state.
He stated, “Without mincing words and without any sentiment, Oyo State Government has really done well for the command.
“The state government bought 100 security vehicles and, at least, 66 were given to us. The vehicles now augment the ones that we already had on the ground. We have deployed them to strategic areas where patrol vehicles were lacking. With this, members of the public can call us and we can respond promptly. This is what governance is all about.”
The Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had, at a security meeting in Lagos early this month, said the outfit’s operation would begin in January.
Military to contribute troops to S’West operation
Troops of the Nigerian military will be involved in the joint South-West states’ security operation, authoritative sources confirmed on Wednesday.
Although the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, could not be reached for comment, top military sources confirmed that the state governors had consulted the leadership of the military and had worked out modalities to make the operation successful.
A source said, “The military has a joint operation in almost every region of the country and the military authorities are never against the start of any security operation in the South-West.
“Already, we have the Nigerian Air Force Quick Response Group in Osun State, and the troops of the Nigerian Army are also on stop-and-check in Ondo, Ekiti, Oyo and Ogun states. So, personnel of the armed forces have to be part of that joint exercise.”