THE coast became clearer on Thursday for the establishment of Operation Amotekun, the security network set up by Southwest governors.
Police Inspector-General Mohammed Adamu and six Southwest governors met in Lagos on Thursday on the operations of the security outfit.
The Operation Amotekun bill scaled second reading in the Houses of Assembly in Ondo and Oyo states. The draft bill was also ratified in Osogbo by the Osun State Executive Council.
The Ogun State House Assembly confirmed receipt of the draft bill from the executive.
The decision on Operation Amotekun by the IG and Southwest governors was announced after the meeting at the Lagos State House, Alausa, Ikeja.
At the meeting were Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos) and Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo State), who is the Chairman of the Southwest Governors’ Forum.
Deputy Governors Rauf Olaniyan (Oyo); Mrs. Noimot Salako-Oyedele (Ogun); Benedict Alabi (Osun) and Chief Bisi Egbeyemi (Ekiti) represented their governors.
Other stakeholders at the meeting were commissioners of Police, attorneys-general and commissioners for justice from the six states, representatives of other security agencies, monarchs, and representatives of Community Development Committees (CDCs).
Akeredolu and IG Adamu briefed reporters at the end of the meeting. They both alluded to the need for Operation Amatekun as a community policing strategy to tackle crime in Lagos, Oyo, Ondo, Ogun, Osun and Ekiti states.
They, however, agreed that it will not be a regional outfit, but state-based.
Following the passage of the Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN), codenamed Operation Amotekun on Januray 9 in Ibadan, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami declared the outfit illegal.
But, after a meeting with the Federal Government, the governors agreed to ‘unbundle’ the regional connotation and formalise its establishments in the six states with relevant ligislations.
Fayemi had hinted of plans by the governors to simultaneously sign the bills into law today.
The Ondo governor said on Thursday: ”It is clear that community policing which the Nigeria police is anchoring, is one that will benefit all of us from the ward up to the state level,” he said, adding that after yesterday’s meeting, all stakeholders agreed to embrace community policing in its entirety.
Explaining that Operation Amotekun is not a regional police, but state-based, Akeredolu said: “We have made things clear to everybody and we want all of us to know now that when we said we are having Amotekun, it is not that we are creating a regional police. Amotekun is not a regional police.
“Amotekun is state based, because we don’t have regions in the country anyway. We only have states; and all of us have agreed that when you have laws in your respective states backing Amotekun or any security outfit, then you can go ahead for as long as it is within the legal bound.
“So, we have come out happy; all of us have agreed and it’s been a wonderful resolution of few dark areas, which we have put light into, but we can’t give you full details because this is a security summit. But, I can assure you that we are on the same page in respect of this.”
The IG echoed the governor’s statement, saying that Amotekun is not a regional outfit.
Adamu said: “Every state, right now, has one form of security outfit or the other working with security agencies to fight crime and criminality. Community policing is infused into all the existing states’ security structures.
“What we have concluded is what the chairman of the Southwest Governors’ Forum has explained. “Amotekun is not a regional security outfit. As it is existing now, every state has one form of outfit, whether it is vigilante or neighbourhood watch, that are working with security agencies of the state to fight crimes.
“And it is not different from what has been existing before. Every state is having its own structure and it is agreed that this structure they are creating, the community policing strategy is infused into it. So, policing the community will be the initiative of the community. The public is the police and the police are the public. So, everybody must be involved.
“This area must be clarified. It is not a regional structure, it is a state structure and it must be backed by law for it to be effective. So, we are saying the same thing. The structure must be in tandem with community policing.”
Asked whether the police will be involved in the training, deployment and payment of salaries of Amotekun operatives, the IG said: “Community policing is nothing but partnership, adding that whatever structure that is in place it must be in partnership with the police to deal with problems that are associated with crimes, and criminality.
“Therefore, any structure brought by any state government that is geared towards assisting and collaborating with security agencies to suppress crimes we will all participate, be it in training or deployment all geared towards dealing with crimes and criminality.”
In his opening remarks, Akeredolu said that Southwest governors will not compromise on security of lives and properties in the region.
He said: “And we say it without fear, our people believe community policing is necessary whose time has come. It is time to face the truth, which is community policing, because of the peculiarity of every state.
“This is what is done in advanced countries and it is time to embrace it because of numerous security challenges, which has overstretched the conventional police.
“This is something of great importance to all of us, something we cannot pretend about, we must be honest with ourselves. All of us agree that we are facing security challenges, the National Assembly, the President, nobody is happy with the way things are going, we must have a rethink about central police, there is too much on the IG’s table.”