Akure — Hundreds of diverse Yoruba interest groups, yesterday, in Akure, Ondo State; Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State; Ibadan, Oyo State; Osogbo, Osun State and Abeokuta, Ogun State, heeded the call by Yoruba World Congress, YWC, and rallied in support of Amotekun, the security outfit set up by the governments of the South-West to assist in providing security in the region.
Meanwhile, the rally was aborted in Lagos, as the Police barricaded Gani Fawehinmi Park, Ojota, venue of the planned protest, preventing protesters from converging on the ground.
Also, South West governors yesterday, insisted that the security outfit codenamed Amotekun has come to stay while all legal means will be deployed to achieve same without affecting the oneness of the country.
This came as former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, while expressing support for Amotekun, insisted that no human power has the authority to criminalise the protection of human life, and no human ambition is worth the failure to speak in support of the people in order to remain in the good books of the oppressors of the people.
Also, indication emerged yesterday that the newly-launched Amotekun might begin operations in Oyo State this week. Vanguard was reliably informed that all logistics, including uniforms have been provided for the smooth take-off of the outfit.
Amotekun has come to stay - S'West govs
Meanwhile, South West governors, yesterday, declared that the security outfit, Amotekun has come to stay, while all legal means would be deployed to achieve same without necessarily affecting the oneness of the country.
Chairman of the South West Governors Forum, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, stated this in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Ojo Oyewamide in Akure, while reacting to the outburst of the National Secretary of Miyetti Allah, Saleh Alhassan against the S'West governors on a private television station, yesterday.
Alhassan took a swipe at the launch of Amotekun by the governors and accused them of being ethnic irredentists and irresponsible.
Akeredolu said: "The outburst of the Miyetti Allah scribe was live on national television. As usual, the issue was Amotekun. Rather than throw same stones the arrogant miscreant threw at the governors, we will rather put the blame on those internal collaborators whose parochial political pursuits have beclouded their sense of tomorrow.
"Yes, the possibility of an outburst as such can only be seen when a serving senator because of his political ambition, would rather demonise Amotekun than support the scheme.
"Is it not curious that it was shortly after a supposed Senator, whose immediate environment is the most affected by insecurity pummeled Amotekun that the Federal Attorney-General came out that same evening to issue a statement?
"These are the internal collaborators whose vested interests have sold the South-West out. However, we must emphasize that our unity and cohesion as a nation are two cherished features that we can't afford to undermine.
"For the umpteenth time, Amotekun has come to stay and all legal means will be deployed to achieve same without necessarily affecting our oneness as a nation. Like others elsewhere, Amotekun remains complementary; it's not a regional force," he added.
Self defence is int'l human rights, guaranteed by Article 51 of the UN Charter - Atiku
Atiku in a post on his Facebook page, said: "As a nation, our police, armed forces and paramilitary bodies have shown great gallantry, patriotism and dedication to duty. They are our first line of defence against enemies of our nation and saboteurs within our midst. I laud, value and acknowledge them, which is why I awarded scholarships and gave other support to the children of some of our fallen heroes.
"Having said that, I must add that the reality on the ground in Nigeria today is that our armed and paramilitary forces are overstretched. To deny this is to unpatriotically put their lives at risk. This we must not do. They deserve better from us.
"To say that we do not need the services of those who are patriotic enough to voluntarily put their lives at risk to ensure the protection of the lives and property of Nigerians is to deny the obvious.
"I salute groups like the Civilian Joint Task Force in the North-East, who provided and continue to provide an invaluable service to Nigeria and her peoples, at great cost to themselves, both in human lives and in productive hours, for which they are not well remunerated. Without their altruistic services, where would the war on terror be?
"I also acknowledge and appreciate the work that hunters and vigilantes have done and are still doing to help boost security in states scattered across Nigeria, including in the North East and Zamfara, Jigawa and Taraba states, to mention a few. Not a few Nigerians are able to sleep with two eyes closed, because of the action of these bodies of dedicated and gallant countrymen.
"But on the matter of internal security as a means of self-defence, I call on all and sundry to speak up.
The right to self-defence, including the right to combat terror is guaranteed by international law, enshrined in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, of which Nigeria is a signatory.
Therefore, no human power has the authority to criminalize the protection of human life, and no human ambition is worth the failure to speak in support of the people in order to remain in favour with the oppressors of the people.
Amotekun begins operations in Oyo this week
Indication emerged, yesterday, that Amotekun will begin operations in Oyo State this week. Vanguard was informed that all logistics, including uniforms have been provided for the smooth take-off of the outfit.
This was revealed during the solidarity walk staged for the outfit.
Majority of leaders from the South West zone who assembled in Ibadan for the solidarity march vowed that "anybody who doesn't want the outfit to stay doesn't want Yoruba. If anybody doesn't want Yoruba, it then means the person doesn't want Nigeria."
While speaking at the Government House Arcade, Agodi, Ibadan on behalf of the leader of the Yoruba World Congress, Emeritus Professor Adebanji Akintoye, Evangelist Kunle Adesokan, insisted that thousands of security agents cannot stop the operation of the outfit.
He said security issue is an environmental thing which the government should treat as such as it is done all over the world.
"Today, is another history in our lifetime. The gathering is just to prove that Amotekun has come to stay. No matter how intense the threat is, we are not going back on this security outfit," he said.
A leader of Agbekoya, Chief Olalere Ayalu, who was among those that fought during Agbekoya crisis between 1968 and 1969 simply said: "We have begged God to give us strength and he has given us."
In Abeokuta, Ogun State, the protesters were armed with placards with various inscriptions such as 'Iberubojo Amotekun ti ba won", "No Amotekun, No Hisbah", "Every Yoruba is Amotekun", "Amotekun Wole, Inira Dopin", among others.
The rally, which held at Panseke in Abeokuta, was monitored by policemen and other security agencies in the State.
Addressing the protesters, Coordinator of Amotekun Solidarity Rally in Ogun State, Chief Jimoh Taofeek, said, the walk was to agitate for the recognition of the security outfit.
He said: "We are here to reach out to the larger public. We want to tell the Federal Government and the entire Nigerian populace to know that we want Amotekun in South West.
"If Hisbah can be in the northern states, if there can be Azaru, there can be Civilian JTF, if there can be Vigilance groups, some of them even carry arms, arrest even legitimate police officers and prosecute, so there is no reason why we should not consider Amotekun in South West.
"I want to make it very clear that Amotekun is not to witch-hunt anybody. I think one of the major responsibilities of Amotekun is to protect the masses. The safety of lives and properties is the major responsibility of the government."
Also speaking, Chairman of Oodua United People's Association, Ola Bello said: "Amotekun was launched to check the excesses of criminals in the region."
In Ondo State, hundreds of diverse Yoruba interest groups, yesterday, thronged Akure, where they held a peaceful solidarity rally in support of Amotekun.
Participants at the rally include members of the Yoruba World Congress, YWC, Yoruba People's Congress, Federation of Yoruba Consciousness and Culture, youths from various tertiary institutions in the state, traders and artisans.
They converged on the MKO Abiola Democracy Park, Akure around 11a.m., before marching round the state capital. The participants, who wore clothes with the inscription of Amotekun, stopped over at the palace of the prominent traditional ruler in the town, the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladelusi Aladetoyinbo before proceeding to the governors' office.
Oba Aladetoyinbo, while addressing the rally said that the people of the town are solidly behind the six south west governors on the formation of Amotekun. Speaking through his Chief of Staff, Toyin Aladetoyinbo, the monarch pointed out that "the people of Akure are in support of any process that would bring peace and cohesion to the South West region."
Ekiti -- In Edo-Ekiti, Ekiti State, a crowd of hunters, students movements as well as members of Oodua People's Congress, led other groups in solidarity rally with Amotekun. Other prominent groups involved in the rally were, Agbekoya, Yoruba Koya, members of Vigilance Group of Nigeria, Man 'O War, Oodua Union and Ekiti Council of Elders.
Security was provided for the procession which started at Fajuyi pavilion, at Fajuyi Park in Ado-Ekiti by the police and operatives of the Department of State Services. The long procession moved from the Fajuyi park through Okesa junction, Ojumose to the popular Erekesan market and Ijigbo area of Ado Ekiti capital city.
Leaders of each group who took turn to address the crowd, lamented the state of insecurity in South West, saying Amotekun initiative has berthed permanently in the south West region and that it was not formed to fight Fulani herdsmen, except the unruly and destructive ones.
Senior Special Assistant to Governor Kayode Fayemi on Internal Security and former Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Dele Olugbemi, said: "Amotekun is for easy identification of all visitors to Ekiti and South West. It is sad that the AGF made pronouncement over issue he knew nothing about. He spoke as if he was not aware of the level of insecurity in this zone. Some of these evil doers besieged even our towns, killed the people and destroyed everything in the farm. Amotekun will work in their localities and it is not about fighting anybody."
Members of the Yoruba World Congress, YWC, thronged the streets of Osogbo, Osun State in solidarity with Amotekun.
The groups which consist of Agbekoya, hunters guide and other stakeholders converged on the Nelson Mandela Freedom Park Osogbo at 9:20a.m., before moving through major streets of the state capital. Security operatives, consisting of Police, Department of State Services, DSS, Civil Defense Corps were also visible in their numbers to ensure that the protest was not hijacked by hoodlums.
The procession started at 10:30a.m., led by the coordinator, Dr. Akin Adejumo and escorted by the security operatives. While the procession was on, solidarity songs were echoed by members, describing the South-West governors as heroes of the people. Addressing the gathering at Ola-Iya junction, Adejumo said, the walk is a form of awareness to sensitize the populace that Amotekun becomes a necessity because of the safety of the inhabitants of the region.
He said the outfit was a spontaneous response to the the security situation in the region and the country as a whole.
In Lagos, however, armed Policemen, yesterday morning, aborted the rally as they barricaded Gani Fawehinmi Park, Ojota, Lagos State, venue of the planned pro Amotekun protest, preventing protesters from converging on the ground.
The security personnel, with no fewer than 30 operational vehicles, included police officers, DSS personnel and other security operatives. A senior police officer, who spoke with Vanguard on anonymity, said: "We are acting based on an order that the rally must not hold, because it tends to disrupt the peaceful nature of a state like Lagos."
The placard carrying protesters, who stormed the venue as early as 9 a.m., were prevented from gaining entrance into the park forcing the protesters to retreat. Addressing journalists and other groups outside the park, George Akinola, Lagos State Coordinator of Yoruba World Congress, and Amotekun, insisted that despite all antagonism against the creation, "Operation Amotekun will stand."
Akinola said: "This is the voice of Amotekun. We have the rights to protect our lives and property. Yoruba race has been subjected to indiscriminate and annoying oppression in Nigeria and we will not allow it anymore.
Fasanmi, Afenifere advocate amicable dispute resolution
Meanwhile, National Leader of Afenifere, Senator Ayo Fasanmi has expressed support for the South-West Governors on Amotekun, seeking amicable resolution of the issues around the outfit.
Fielding questions from journalists after the group's meeting at his Osogbo residence, Pa Fasanmi said the general populace also owes a duty of help government ensure proper security by being vigilant in their various communities.
"One of the main vital decisions we took is on the Amotekun, We are happy with what the governors have done, it is really on course. Security is very important to every nation. A situation in which people cannot keep with their two eyes close is not good for a nation, a situation whereby lives and property are not safe, is not good for a nation and our state governors have taken a step and we shall give them all the necessary support they need.
"We also call on the public that internal vigilance is at the liberty. We must look out when we see strangers around the premises, you must alert the security people. The mere fact that the governors of the West can camp together and take a decision is good for Yoruba people, we stand united and firm; no shaking and we have the confidence that the outcome of the Amotekun outfit will benefit the people.
"Nobody should politicise it. It is a clean outfit for securing lives and property. There is no politics in this. The Yorubas are coming together to ensure that lives and properties of the people are safe," Fasanmi said.
Enact laws for Amotekun now - Falana
The governors in the South West zone launched the South West Security Network otherwise called "Operation Amotekun" in Ibadan, Oyo State on January 10, 2020. The Police authorities endorsed Amotekun while the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, has questioned its legality. Even though I had cause to join issues with Mr. Malami over his legal opinion on the security outfit I was compelled to call on each of the South West governors to forward a bill to the house of assembly of each state for the formation of Amotekun.
In the absence of an enabling legal instrument for the establishment, structure, functions, control, funding and operation of Amotekun various interest groups in the country have continued to express divergent views on the needless controversy that has trailed the official inauguration of the security outfit. On their own part, the south west governors have been assuring the federal government that Amotekun is not a regional paramilitary organisation but a zonal security outfit being set up to assist the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies in combating incessant killings, kidnapping, armed robbery and other violent crimes that are on the ascendancy due in the region due to the negligence of the federal government to effectively police the country.