Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN), codenamed Amotekun, was on Thursday launched in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital by governors of the geological zone, to help combat the upsurge of crimes the zone witnessed in 2019.
The governors also declared at the launching of the outfit that Amotekun is not a regional police, as many people had insinuated, and assuring that it would.not be used as a political tool.
All the six states in the region – Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti – are jointly funding the outfit, which will involve local hunters, vigilantes and designated members of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) as personnel. The police will drive the process.
Each of the states contributed 20 patrol vehicles – Oyo gave 33 – all fitted with communication gadgets to cover the region under a central command.
The Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, while speaking at the ceremony, said: “Amotekun is not a duplication, neither is it a replacement for the Nigeria Police Force and other statutory security agencies. Amotekun is a complement that gives our people the confidence that they are being looked after by the people they elected into office”.
Fayemi also noted the magnitude of insecurity witnessed in the Southwest last year which led to the need for Amotekun could not be ignored, adding that there was a need for additional support for security agencies.
The governor, who further explained that the enemies of Amotekun went on social media to give wrong interpretations of the security outfit, said further: “We were daily assaulted by armed robbers, bandits and kidnappers. The mainstream security agencies did their best. It was in that circumstance that we lost Funke Olakunrin, the daughter of our leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti. All these mounted pressure on political leaders because our people could not sleep with their two eyes closed.
“So, our primary responsibility to provide security and welfare of the citizenry led to this. Though criminal activities were all over the country then, our people in the Southwest, a relatively peaceful zone, became agitated over the increasing insecurity.
“I am pleased that Amotekun, whose idea has come, has been endorsed by the police in the country.
“The IGP has announced its endorsement. Amotekun is nothing but a community policing response to the yearning of our people.
“It will fill the void pending the time community policing structure being planned by the police will be ready. It is a confidence-building strategy for our people in the Southwest.
“When elements that will work in a joint task force are ready, they will do it with the knowledge of the language and culture and terrain of the places where they will work.
”So, we do not want this to create any fear in the mind of anyone. We have seen all manners of things in the social media. It is an attempt to sabotage what we are doing.
“We are not creating a regional police force. We are not oblivious of the steps we must take to have a state police.
“Some of us are unapologetic in our belief in state police but we are also-law abiding citizens. We know the lawful steps to be taken to achieve that but that won’t stop us from taking steps to provide security for our people.
“As long as they are close to our people and they can be held accountable, we are okay by it. So, this should not be misconstrued. They will operate independently but relate regionally. Most importantly, this is not an attempt to undermine the Federal Government of Nigeria. We will do everything to protect the integrity of our country. Our primary interest is the security of our people and we will do everything to push this frontier.”
On his part, the Chairman of the Southwest Governors Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, promised that they would not deploy Amotekun for political purposes.
He said: “We acknowledge the efforts of the Federal Government in providing adequate security.
“It is our sincere hope that our efforts at the regional level will be useful for the Federal Government in the future.
“All we want to do is to protect our states. We are not coming up with an antagonistic structure. We are just working together. Criminality is alien to Yoruba. We always triumph over negative issues.
“We must emphasize again that this is not in any manner a body which will operate as an alternative to the Police. It is in the realm of the intelligence gathering.”
“The Southwest leaders believe in the unity of Nigeria. Some of us cannot afford to break this country. We are committed to a more united and stronger Nigeria. Allmost all of us agree that our unity is our strength.”