Onyedi Ojiabor, Sanni Onogu and Tony Akowe, Abuja

OPERATION Amotekun is a logical end product of President Buhari’s compelling vision on community policing, Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi said on Thursday.

Fayemi described the controversy trailing the January 9 inauguration of the security outfit as storm in a tea cup.

He insisted that contrary to the claim by Attorney-General and Minister of Justice,  Abubakar Malami, security agencies were duly carried along in the formative stage of the security outfit.

Fayemi spoke in Abuja at the 17th edition of the Daily Trust dialogue with the theme “20 years of democracy in Nigeria, strengths, weaknesses and opportunities.”

Responding to the remarks by the Chairman, Media Trust, Mallam Kabiru Yusuf, on the inauguration of Operation Amotekun, Fayemi noted that the security outfit became necessary following the spate of kidnappings and banditry in the Southwest.

He classified the outfit as a bottom-top approach to security sector governance across the length and breadth of the country.

Fayemi added: “You need to talk to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo State), if you need an official position from South West Governors. But I think it is important given the current debate about the legality and desirability of the local security initiative: Operation Leopard Amotekun and how it fits into Nigeria’s peace and security architecture for me to say one or two things.

“And for many of us who have been involved in this process since it started around June 2019, following the spate of kidnappings and banditry in the Southwest, we see the Amotekun vision as a logical end product of President Buhari’s compelling vision on community policing and bottom-top approach to security sector governance across the length and breadth of our country.

“And that is why we’ve said in various communication that far from being a competitor with the existing national security platforms, all it does is aimed to complement them in areas of neigbourhood watch, information and intelligence gathering, detection of early warning signs and in giving intelligence response in a proactive manner apart from acting as liaison between the conventional security outfits and the local population.

“And in the process of bringing this about, the conventional security outfits were not only in the know, they actively collaborated with the South West Governors in this process.

“So, for those who are unfamiliar with mechanics of security sector reforms and transformation in democratising polity, they readily appreciate the need for a multi-faceted, multi-layered and multi-dimensional approaches to national policing and maintenance of law and order.

“Indeed, apart from strengthening the operational and administrative capacity of security institutions in our country and the training and retraining of security agents, the other vital components of this paradigm shift in national security architecture is the direct logical coherence and sequential involvement of the local population and grassroots governance in national security and crime prevention.

“It is the recognition of the above that the Amotekun model emerged and its proponents have already made it clear to the police authority that it is a model open to public scrutiny, a model open to reform and fine-tuning and even reconceptualization in the basis of any new information or superior knowledge that might assist them in improving the quality of its operations.

“And let me say here that it is only in the context of such robust conversation that I believe that democratic plurality is entrenched.”

Also speaking on Amotekun, a former Governor of Katsina State, Dr. Ibrahim Shema, said: “In issue of security, we all know this forms part of the process of restructuring Nigeria. I will want to propose and suggest to all concerned that there is need for coming together by states, local and federal government to work on security issues that concern and bother all Nigerians.

“It is not about the South West, South East, South South and North Central, it is a national issue. Therefore, this aspect of having the Amotekun which my brother Kayode Fayemi spoke about is an issue that should bring us together the federal, states and local governments to look at it and leaders in this country, traditional institutions, religious leaders should form a team that would support the states, local and federal governments to create a system that would work and help solve the problems in Nigeria which includes the menace of Boko Haram, kidnappings, banditry, armed robbery, one chance and numerous other vices that bedevil our nation.”

Yusuf had in his welcome remarks said Nigerians have cause to celebrate having put behind them 20 years of unbroken democracy.

Speaking on the security situation in the country, the media chief said:  “As we celebrate 20 years of democracy, we also mark with sadness the 50th anniversary of the end of the Nigerian civil war. Prof. Soyinka used that occasion to say that the fragile state of the polity today reminds him of the mid 1960s just before the civil war.

“He also added that the only thing that gave him hope was that the governors of his South Western corner of the country had found the courage to launch Operation Amotekun.

“Another stakeholder during that occasion, David Umahi, Governor of Ebonyi State and current Chairman of the South Eastern Governor’s forum reacted to the South West Governor’s Initiative by saying it was copied from the South East.

“Apparently a retired General by the name of Obi Umahi, perhaps a sibling of the Governor has already been appointed to coordinate security architecture of the zone.

“After some bickering, the Federal Government may declare Amotekun and by implication all other nascent regional security organizations illegal because we all know that this is not about law but about politics.

“The region hardest hit by kidnappings and armed banditry is the North. Despite repeated assurances by the Inspector General of Police and the Governor of Kaduna State, most of us here will know better if we were to take a short drive from Abuja to Kaduna, which happens to be the major road that I use.

“In Katsina where President Buhari comes from, thousands of people have abandoned their villages for IDP camps while the state government negotiates with bandits for some sort of ceasefire.

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