By Adesina Wahab
A group, the Yoruba Appraisal Forum, YAF, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari and governors of the six South-West states to integrate the Western Nigeria Security Network, popularly called Amotekun, into the community policing initiative of the Federal Government under the Nigeria Police Force.
YAF stated that Amotekun should urgently be reformed, integrated and placed under the supervision and control of the Inspector General of Police to check the excesses now manifesting in its operations, in the interest of peace and national security.
The Forum alleged that Amotekun has been hijacked by forces planning to destabilise the South-West and the country at large, stressing that the regional security outfit needs to be properly kept under security watch by the police that is constitutionally empowered to secure all Nigerians.
This was contained in a petition signed by the group’s National Coordinator, Adeshina Animashaun, sent to the President and governors of the six states in the region, the Inspector General of Police and the service chiefs.
YAF also copied the petition to the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Moguno (rtd); Director-General, Department of State Services, Mr Yusuf Bichi; Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd); Minister of Police Affairs, Alhaji Muhammad Dingyadi; and Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.
YAF said that Amotekun must be thoroughly scrutinised and monitored by the police high command under the Inspector General of Police.
It noted that under this arrangement, the police high command should be allowed to supervise and oversee Amotekun’s activities and operations, especially since the original rationale behind its formation was to complement the police in checking crime.
According to the group, just as it observed and raised the alarm on the inherent dangers in the formation of Amotekun by the South-West state governors, operatives of the regional security outfit have unfortunately become embroiled in the wanton killings and maiming of citizens, especially in Oyo State and across other South-West states in collaboration with emerging armed gangs masquerading as Yoruba freedom fighters.
It, therefore, accused Amotekun of extra-judicial killings, ethnic profiling and cleansing, which it warned could generate some serious backlash for Yoruba living in other parts of Nigeria, particularly those residing in states up North, if nothing is urgently done by the Federal Government and relevant central security agencies to rein in the excesses of the operatives.
YAF, in the petition to President Buhari, also reeled out instances of the atrocities already allegedly being perpetrated by Amotekun operatives.
“Recently, seven people, including a Fulani man and two of his sons, were killed after some operatives of the Oyo State chapter of Amotekun clashed with some Fulani herdsmen in Aiyete, Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State.
“Before then, in December last year, Amotekun operatives in Ibadan, Oyo State, killed a university student it claimed was an armed robber. On January 4, Amotekun operatives shot a policeman in the Sanga area of Oyo town.
“In a nutshell, Your Excellency, it is shocking that in less than three weeks in January this year, Amotekun operatives killed no fewer than 11 Nigerians in Oyo State alone without any just cause.
YAF, therefore, stated that with the “unfortunate development,” Amotekun’s mode of operations has begun to raise serious concerns and even causing fears amongst Nigerians, especially non-Yoruba residing in the South-West.
The group also stated that even Amnesty International, human rights activists and some lawyers, including Mr Femi Falana (SAN), had continued to express their fears about Amotekun, and were now looking up to President Buhari to urgently act before the regional security outfit would further degenerate into a militia group and become uncontrollable.
“Your Excellency, Amotekun operatives fragrantly and openly wield dangerous weapons, including pump-action guns during their operations, a development that has resulted in the unwarranted killing of many people by its operatives,” the petition added.
YAF in its petition also noted that the various violent clashes in which Amotekun had been involved were “a bad omen for the South-West known for its peaceful disposition in Nigeria.
“Today, we, the Yoruba Appraisal Forum, again have it on good authority that enemies of peace and progress in the South-West and the entire Yorubaland have begun moves to cause chaos, wanton destruction of property and killings in our own part of the country. Some Amotekun operatives and religious leaders, we gathered, are already being recruited for this sinister and evil purpose!
“Your Excellency, we’re by this letter putting your humble self and the various security agencies on the alert about the impending doom Amotekun could bring on the South-West and the nation in general, if its activities are not immediately checkmated.”