The idea of establishing the Southwest security outfit, Western Nigeria Security Network, popularly known as Amotekun, was conceived by governors of the region to bridge the gap created by the federal police in tackling some security challenges in the region about a year ago.
However, reports emanating from the region about the modus operandi of the outfit are very disturbing and need to be urgently checked.
The security outfit has been accused of various rights infringements. One of which was the shooting of a police officer, Fatai Yekini, in Sabo area of Oyo town by an Amotekun corps member identified as Ibrahim Ogundele on Saturday, January 2, 2021. Another incident happened in Ibarapa Local Government of the state, where a septuagenarian, Alhaji Usman Okebi and his two sons were killed.
Alhaji Usman was killed when the members of the corps allegedly stormed their settlement and started shooting sporadically.
Earlier, on December 19, 2020, Amotekun operatives were accused of killing two people in Isale Osi area of the state. Also on December 20, a 400-level student of the Federal College of Education in the state, Akolade Gbadebo, was killed by the operatives who claimed he was an armed robber and cultist.
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) disagreed with the corps on the allegation. Two youths were also allegedly killed by the corps in Tapa community of Ibarapa local government of Oyo State on January 6, 2021.
The latest of their abuses is the killing of a 23-year-old man, Tosin Thomas in Inalende Area of Ibadan on January 13th by one of its operatives identified as Afolabi Kazeem.
The development led to the suspension of commercial activities for hours as residents staged a peaceful protest. A news medium recently reported that 11 persons were allegedly killed by the corps in three weeks.
We join in condemning a statement by the Osun State Commandant of the Amotekun, during the launch of the corps, which stated that indecent dressing and bastardising the Yoruba language would not be tolerated.
We urge that people in authority avoid such statements as that could be misinterpreted by members of the corps to go after innocent citizens indiscriminately.
The warning by the revered traditional ruler, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, to the Amotekun corps was timely and commendable.
The oba was quoted as saying "Amotekun that are going about with guns are doing the job not given to them. Amotekun are doing the job God doesn't like.
"Because they are in uniform does not mean they can terrorize the community by collecting money from citizens".
We also commend Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, on the call for the Amotekun corps to toe the line of the law.
He said, "I have told them anytime you want us to come and assist, we will come even if it is just on the ethical session so that as you are training them to defend us, we are also training their minds so that Amotekun does not become another SARS".
From the foregoing, there is need for a reorientation of the members of the Amotekun corps. The methods adopted by the members are unorthodox and that should not be the case. Officials of the corps should ensure that all those recruited are of good character. They should also be properly trained and the mode of operation clearly spelt out to them. The use of technology in tracking criminals should be encouraged as well. They should work with the police and the issue of carrying arms by members should be addressed as they may not have been properly trained to handle such at this stage.
Also, the Amotekun should avoid actions that portray them as pursuing an ethnic agenda. It is important that they maintain professionalism and respect rules of engagement at all times. All those found wanting in the incidents recorded so far should be fished out and punished appropriately to serve as deterrent to others.
Amotekun should not be allowed to be hijacked by miscreants as that would defeat the purpose for which it was formed.