SCORES of demonstrators in Osun, Oyo and Ogun States on Tuesday, took to the streets in their respective state’s capitals to protest against the Federal Government’s decision on the Western Nigeria Security Network also known as Amotekun.
The groups consist of the Yoruba World Congress (YWC), Agbekoya, Yoruba Youth Congress (YYC), Atayese, Yoruba Reconciliation Groups, Kaaro Ojiire group, Odua Peoples Congress (OPC), among other concerned individuals.
Prof. Banji Akintoye, Convener of Yoruba world congress had earlier issued public notice during his visit to the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission on today’s protest, canvassing for supports from relevant stakeholders.
But while the protest got security backing in Osun State, operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS), the Nigerian Police and officers of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) stormed venues of the protest in Ogun and Oyo States.
The security agents in mufti had positioned themselves at several meeting points.
The protesters had placards with inscriptions such as “On Amotekun we stand,” “We want to know who owns the land Amotekun”, “No Amotekun, No Hisbah”, “Yoruba Omo Oodua: Protect yourself, Amotekun.”
This is happening days after the Federal Government suspended the regional security network initiated by Governors of the southwest states.
Since the federal government’s pronouncement, through Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the Federation, the issue has generated controversy among Nigerians from different regions.
While elder statesmen in the southwestern states and lawyers have thrown their weight behind the initiative, northern groups kicked against it, supporting the position of the federal government’s position.
According to reports, Kenneth Ebrimson, the Commissioner of Police, Ogun state said at the protest, though the people have right to demonstrate, it is also the responsibility of the security operatives to ensure safety during the protest.
Ebrimson warned those who might want to take advantage of the protest to commit a crime, saying they would be ‘ruthlessly’ dealt with.
In Oyo, the protest commenced at about 10:50 am.
Regional Groups react to Amotekun
Shortly after the announcement of Amotekun, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) – Northern Nigeria Socio-Cultural Group expressed concerns that the security network may threaten the nation’s unity.
This is almost the same argument with the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, who said it could become a political tool in the hands of politicians in the region. They categorically kicked against the security network saying the Fulani tribe would not condone whatever injustice that might arise from the network’s operation.
But, the group of South and Middle-Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) led by Chief Edwin Clark, leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) are in support of the initiative.
The group had earlier met in Abuja, last week Monday to commend the decision of the South West Governors for displaying their mandate to safeguard the lives of the people in the region.
In a communique issued after the meeting, the elders criticized the federal government on its decision as announced by the AGF.
“We ask the governors of the southwest to ignore Malami and allow him to go to court to challenge their decision as he cannot constitute himself as a court over elected governors. We are not under military rule. We insist that what the governors have done is what individuals and neighbourhoods can legally do to secure their life and property,” SMBLF noted in a communiqué.
“While we encourage our states to make do with Amotekun as a temporary measure, the demand for state police must be intensified within the overall restructuring of Nigeria.”
Also present at the meeting were Chief Ayo Adebanjo (leader of Afenifere), Chief John Nnia Nwodo (President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo), and Dr Pogu Bitrus (president of Middle Belt Forum).
Prominent leaders from across the South and Middle Belt were as well in attendance.