DESPITE Federal Government’s approval of the South-West Security Network otherwise known as Operation Amotekun, a new confusion appears to be brewing as the Nigerian Police assumes responsibility of recruiting individuals as community police officers in 774 Local Government Areas of the country.
The recruitment which was just approved through Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) is to be conducted with supports from traditional rulers and community heads nationwide.
Adamu had via a police wireless message with reference number: DTO: 231704/01/2020, directed Police state commands to set up screening committee for the recruitment process with the involvement of the Commissioners for Police (CPs), Assistant Commissioners of Police (ACP) and Divisional Police Officers (DPO).
“INGENPOL (IG) directs that you be informed that (the) Federal Government has given approval for recruitment of special constables as a step forward to enhancing (the) community policing policy nationwide.
“INGENPOL further directs all commands’ CPs, ACPs and DPOs in your respective commands to liaise with traditional rulers and community leaders in your respective areas to form screening committees that will screen volunteers who must be of good character and who will eventually be recruited as special constables,” the message received by The Punch read.
“All those to be recommended must be resident in their respective communities and must also be between the ages of 21 and 50 with (the) willingness to serve the community.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Government had given a caveat while approving operation Amotekun after meeting with governors of the southwest states.
It stated that the security network must align with the guiding principles of community policing. It is however uncertain if officers of the community police would be drawn from the recently approved regional security network.
Rotimi Akeredolu, the Ondo State Governor and his colleagues from the six states had explained that Amotekun would complement efforts of the existing police structure.
However, Prof Banji Akintoye, leader of the Yoruba World Congress (YWC), while reacting to the development said members of the security network cannot be recruited as police constables.
He described both bodies as separate entities that complement each other.
“Those (police and Amotekun) are two different things. The Federal Government has its own arrangements and South-West governors have Amotekun strongly endorsed and massively supported by Yoruba people.
“The two go side by side and they will reinforce each other to give South-West people the greatest security confidence. No one can combine the two jobs. They are different,” he stated.
Ondo State Chapter of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) also dissociated itself from the federal government’s policing initiative stressing that none of its members would be allowed to join the group.
“We can’t allow our members in Operation Amotekun to be recruited as constables and also we can’t work with the police, because we don’t want clashes. But we are ready to work if they give us our own independent roles,” Victor Olayemi, Ondo OPC State Coordinator told Punch.
“We know one another and we know what everyone can do, so they should allow us to do the work independently. That is why we are planning to meet with the governors, so they can give us our own role. We are ready to secure our people, we are ready to work in Operation Amotekun.”
Ekiti State Chapter of Agbekoya also disclosed that the Police are yet to officially inform the group of such initiative, thus it cannot make a straight decision on its member’s participation.
“Without letting us know their actual plans and intentions, such a decision that our members will partake or not can’t be made,” Sunday Omoyajowo, Ekiti State Coordinator of Agbekoya stated.
The ICIR contacted Deputy Commissioner of Police, Frank Mba, the Police Spokesperson for his comment on the new community policing but he did not respond to calls.
Text messages sent to him also were not replied.
Amotekun Personnel will get life assurance
Meanwhile, the Development Agenda of Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission, a regional development body of the South-West on Sunday said personnel of the Western Nigeria Security Network will get life assurance and medical insurance once the project becomes fully operational.
Seye Oyeleye, Head of DAWN Commission shared on the agency’s social media handle the operational model and recruitment process of the security network.
“There will be life insurance for each of the operatives. Life insurance is one of the benefits. Also, there will be medical insurance. Those are some of the things that personnel of ÀMỌ̀TẸ́KÙN will enjoy once they are recruited,” the commission stated.
But, contrary to popular opinions, he emphasised that Operation Amotekun is meant to protect every Nigerians irrespective of ethnicity or religion.
According to him, once someone is kidnapped, the kidnappers are often not interested in the victim’s cultural background or religion but their primary agenda.
“Amotekun is not against the Fulani, it is not against the Igbo, it is not against the Ijaw, and it is not against anyone, except the criminals. Their primary duty is community policing, protecting lives and property of everyone that lives in this geographical space,” the tweet read.
“…when someone is being kidnapped, I am not sure the kidnappers will ask whether you are Yoruba, Efik or Ibibio. What they do is to kidnap. So, ÀMỌ̀TẸ́KÙN will be covering everybody living within this geographical space.” #Amotekun
– Seye OYELEYE, DG, DAWN Commission pic.twitter.com/dXj5Im5Yir
— DAWN Commission (@DAWNCommission) January 26, 2020
Meanwhile, the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore Fulani Socio-Cultural Group had maintained that the security network is meant to target the Fulani group.
“We have no problem with them as long as they will not target our herders. We have our own defence mechanisms. We fight injustice anywhere, not only in Nigeria. So, if they end up meting out injustice to us, we will fight back. That is the truth but we are law-abiding,” Alhassan Saleh, National Secretary of the association.
But DAWN Commission noted that Àmotekun was not set up to face any ethnic group.
“Amotekun, was set up to protect lives and property for anyone living within this geographical space.”
On the operation model, he clarified that the initiative would be stated-based stressing that, aside from being a regional outfit, “the security operatives have the power to cut across and operate within each other state. There is going to be handshakes across the borders within the Region.”
Speaking on modalities for recruitment, he clarified that the employees should be literate and must reside in their respective states.
He stressed that the six States Governors in the South-West region have commenced work with the State legislative houses to ensure that Amotekun is backed by laws within their respective states.
“The ÀMỌ̀TẸ́KÙN initiative is all about local policing; therefore, those that will be recruited must be locals. Each state will pass a law to support it.”
“The Southwest Governors have executive powers, which they exercised in setting up ÀMỌ̀TẸ́KÙN.”
The commission further dispelled claims that prospective employees would need to provide a birth certificate for employment.
“This is Yoruba land. We do not play Religious Politics. Every household has traditional worshippers, Christians, and Muslims,” the commission tweeted.