By Adeola Badru
In his bid to ensure a safe, secured urban and rural communities in Oyo State, Governor Seyi Makinde, on Wednesday, said the state’s Security Network Agency code named: “Ameotekun Corps” will serve as a local response, which would enhance a peaceful and stable society that will lead to the socio-economic development of the state.
The governor made this known at the passing-out ceremony of Oyo pioneer Amotekun Corps, held at the Emmanuel Alayande College of Education Sports Complex, Main Campus, Oyo.
Makinde noted that security has always been an issue and why it was made one of the pillars of his administration, adding that an insecure state could never attract investors either local or foreign.
Speaking further, Governor Makinde, however, hinted that the 2021 budget which has been perfected and concluded at the State Executive Council level would be presented to the state’s House of Assembly next week Monday.
His words: “When the story of the Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Amotekun is told, it will be on record that it was officially launched on January 9, 2020. However, the Amotekun journey began earlier. In July 2019, the six states of the southwest, namely Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, and Oyo States, agreed to set up this outfit.”
“Amotekun is indeed a first of its kind security agency because it is a regional security outfit initiated by one of Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones.”
“History will also state that the headquarters is here in Oyo State. Since its founding, we have been taking steps to ensure that the security outfit kicks off operations. In March 2020, the Oyo State House of Assembly passed the Oyo State Security Network Agency Bill 2020, which I signed into law a few days later.”
“Although COVID-19 and other logistical issues delayed the recruitment process, we ran an open and transparent recruitment process that culminated in announcing the 1,500 successful candidates’ names in October 2020. Shortly after that, their training began in the first week of November. Today we are here to witness the passing out parade of the pioneer members of the Amotekun Corps.”
“Security has always been an issue close to my heart. While on the campaign trail, I spoke about how we could tackle insecurity in Oyo State. We outlined clear plans in our manifesto, the Roadmap to Accelerated Development in Oyo State 2019-2023. And so, when we came into office, we went ahead to make security one of the pillars of our administration.”
“Our actions have been based on the fact that if our state is insecure, we cannot attract investment, whether foreign or local. So far, we have supported our federal security outfits, who do their best to protect our people.”
“We provided them with communication gadgets and patrol vehicles. More recently, we requested for and established just this past May 2020, the Police Mobile Force 72 Squadron at Ago-Are and presented them with patrol vehicles for the outfit’s operations.”
“But as I have argued on various fora, for governors to really play the role of Chief Security Officers of their states, state policing is the way forward. I am confident that someday, we will get enough support at the national level to achieve that constitutional review.”
“But, for now, we will settle for the next best thing. The Western Nigeria Security Network, codenamed Amotekun, is an independent outfit. Members will answer to the state governors, but they will be working with the federal security agencies.”
“Some of the primary functions of the Amotekun Corps as authorised by law include: Collaborating with and assisting the Nigeria Police and other security agencies in gathering information. They will be involved in crime, the investigation of crime, arrest, and prosecution of persons suspected of kidnapping, terrorism, destruction of livelihood, criminal damage to property, cultism, highway robbery, and any other illegal activities.”
“They will also be involved in routine day and night patrols on major roads and remote areas. Members of the corps will be drafted to all the 351 wards in Oyo State. They will be our own community police so that their presence will be felt everywhere. This ensures that offenders are quickly identified, arrested, registered, and promptly handed over to the nearest police station or post.”
“As I said during one of my speeches following the End SARS protests, this is one outfit that I can boldly say hold me responsible for the actions of the members.”
“Therefore, let me state to you 1,500 pioneers of the Amotekun Corps that you must remain excellent examples in service. You are to work for the people. You are not called to harass or intimidate the people. Instead, exhibit the highest level of professionalism in the discharge of your duties. Remember that there are limits to your authority, and always follow directives from the chain of command.”
“We have appointed two qualified men as chairman and commandant of the Amotekun Corps, the persons of Retired General Ajibola Kunle Togun and Retired Colonel Olayanju Olayinka. We also have other eminent persons on the board. I am confident that under them, the Amotekun Corps will live up to their objectives.”
“As I said during the official launch of this outfit in January 2020, our regional integration, through Amotekun, should be seen in one light. We are coming together to fight a common enemy. That enemy is not Nigeria; the enemies are the elements among us and their affiliates who are determined to cause commotion within our states’ borders and threaten our peaceful coexistence,” Makinde said.
On his part, the Chairman of Oyo State Amotekun Corps, Brigadier-General Kunle Togun (Rtd), lauded the effrontery of Governor Makinde to set up the state security outfit with the view to tackling insecurity plaguing the South-West region.
About 1,500 Amotekun cadets were passed out, while top government functionaries, traditional rulers and religious leaders graced the event.