Opinion: Amotekun Will Succeed As A Shield Not As A Sword | By Muideen Olagunju  - Mega Icon Magazine
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Opinion: Amotekun Will Succeed As A Shield Not As A Sword | By Muideen Olagunju 

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Let’s not deceive ourselves, AMOTEKUN evolved into our security consciousness because of the incursions of criminal elements among the Fulanis of Northern Nigeria who have mastered crimes like pillaging, malicious damage, murder, rape and armed robbery. If I am not directly familiar with the modus operandi of the ones that lay sieges along the Osun-Ondo-Ekiti axis, I am fully abreast of the activities of these Fulani gangsters in my immediate environment of Oyo Town. The Oke Ogun zone of Oyo State has also been the stomping grounds for Fulani armed robbers.

Many of us view them as mere cattle herders but they are super intelligent. The level of their conspiracies is higher than that of common criminals. A Fulani man doesn’t act alone. If he is a crime perpetrator, he could get backing as high as Abuja. If he’s the victim, and the wrongdoer is Yoruba, haaaaa, his rights and interests could be defended by the high and mighty.

I’ll give you an example. A Fulani herdsman was killed just before Fasola Village in Oyo Town in 2013. His kinsmen reported to the Police and 3 individuals were arrested close to the scene of the crime. They protested their innocence and were able to give accounts of their whereabouts at the time of the murder. In short, in legal parlance, they had alibis. The DPO exercising jurisdiction over the matter couldn’t release the suspects. He said he had to transfer them to Homicide Division at the State CID even though he was convinced they are innocence.

He confided in me that he feared the influence of the Fulanis and their propensity to escalate the matter up to the office of the IGP in Abuja. He then gave me an alternative route to get my clients released. He said I should talk to a particular Fulani man who, at the time I must add, was the Head of all Fulanis in the Oyo area. I approached him. He said MIYETTI ALLAH was monitoring the matter. He became convinced too that the suspects had nothing to do with the murder but said only a directive from Miyetti Allah could make him drop the case. We exchanged numbers as he promised to get back to me. He did the following day and asked me to meet him at a Filling Station around Gedu, Oyo.

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I met him and at least 10 other men. He asked me to tarry as they were expecting Miyetti Allah’s representatives from Ilorin and Ibadan. Within one hour, the delegation from Ilorin comprising three individuals arrived and two persons came from Ibadan. They spread mats within the premises of the filling station and began deliberations. After about 20 minutes, I was summoned. I presented the case of my clients before the entire group. One of the men from Ilorin replied.

He was quite garrulous and had an air of assumed authority. He said they could punish my clients for the sins of Yoruba farmers against their people in the area. He added that but for the generous recommendation from the Seriki Fulani about me, my clients would have faced charges of murder. He then gave the OK that my clients could be absolved.

The above is just to tell you how organized and protective these people can be. We cannot forget how President Buhari accompanied them to confront erstwhile governor of Oyo State, Lam Adesina, over skirmishes between Fulanis and local farmers in Oke Ogun area in 2001. In terms of influence, we don’t actually stand a chance.

Now let’s discuss the composition and the operational nomenclature under which the Amotekun outfit will function. It appears they would not bear firearms and if they would, it is likely police or the government will only allow such basic firearms like pump action rifles. It goes without saying that the Fulani marauders bear more sophisticated weapons. The least In their Arsenal is the Kalashnikov (AK 47) assault rifle. In terms of operations, we have to remember they are primarily pastoralists.

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Walking the bush or forest is child’s play to them. Stamina comes in abundance. They can operate during the day or night with ruthless efficiency. No matter how well we train the Amotekun outfit, taking the battle to the marauders will be counter-productive except the Police and/or army will be co-opted to assist in the manhunts.

Keep in mind that the Amotekun initiative is being rammed down the throats of Northern interests. They see it as act of confrontation. In the minds of the hardliners among them, it is an affront. The current make up of the hierarchies of the security sector in Nigeria is not favourable to Southerners except we want to live a lie. All out battle against the marauders may elicit surreptitious complicity from the rank and file of the traditional security outfits like the police and the army in their favour.

As a sword, Amotekun will be like a Pygmy squaring up to Goliath.

So we have to use it as a SHIELD. At least by now, the signs are obvious that Southwestern states are fed up with the brazen activities of Fulani bandits. We have to mix the show of force with clever diplomacy. We have to open an interface for dialogue and engagements with the relevant stakeholders including the Miyetti Allah. This will include security summits between our six governors working in unison and their Northern counterparts. Engagements should include fast-tracked solutions to the perennial open grazing crises. This is where engagement with the federal government is crucial. The POWER OF SIX should be persuasive and result-oriented.

Of course, not all Fulanis are bad. The settlers are actually good people for the most part. Their major infraction is malicious damage of farmlands. Many of them have been with us for long and some have been completely Yorubalized. We can develop a system of useful collaboration with them. One thing I’ve discovered is that they also hate the activities of the nomads particularly since the settlers are often victims of the cattle rustling activities of the nomads. The “enemy of my enemy is my friend” mantra is apt in that situation.

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While the issue of banditry may have spurred the birth of the Amotekun initiative, there are sundry crimes being committed daily by Yorubas themselves. Ritual killing is one. Youth gangsterism is another. Proliferation of drugs is also a matter of concern. Amotekun should be localized to work with community leaders for the purposes of identifying bad eggs among us. Working in tandem with the police, criminals can be easily identified and reined in. We should also work hard to see that the outfit is not infested with corruption. Who would have thought the FRSC will deteriorate into being part of the “Sabanmu” gang?

It will take a lot of tact and wisdom to get Amotekun to achieve its fullest potentials. May we get it right.

 

Barrister Muideen Olagunju, ex-lawmaker,

Oyo State House Of Assembly writes from Oyo town

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Opinion

Oluwo Of Iwo In Royal Fiasco | By Rahaman Onike 

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When the news was first broke that Oba Rasheed Akanbi, the Oluwo of Iwo beat up another monarch, I thought the cynics were only trying to expose the royal father to public ridicule. Alas,the unfortunate incident which was reported to have occurred in the presence of AIG Bashir Makama, the State Police Commissioner and even the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters in the state of Osun was neither denied by Oluwo nor the police authorities till this moment.

Ordinarily, the royal fathers as custodians of Yoruba culture and traditions shouldn’t have descended so low to engage themselves in physical combat even at the point of provocation. With the status and exalted stools occupied by the two traditional rulers,it is painful that the duo failed to guide their heritage jealously.

Regrettably, failure of Oluwo to toy a path of honour in overcoming his anger at the point of provocation, if any, has exposed their sacred mandate to public ridicule. Somehow, the unfortunate incident has diminished the honour, respect and dignity the stools of the two monarchs symbolise and command.

The current development is a further reminder of how  the name of Oluwo of Iwo has been associated with several controversies in the past. Rather than being a true symbol of Yoruba culture,values and tradition, he is either being accused of one misdemeanor today or other infraction tomorrow. No one cares about the antics and other intolerable public outbursts of Oluwo until his recent public misconduct.

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If the land tussle between the neighbouring towns of the spring state could not be resolved through amicable settlement, the matter should have been referred to the court of law. I agree that our traditional rulers are human-beings and could therefore have reasons to disagree.

This particular incident is more or less a theatre of absurdity, seeing the two traditional rulers fighting dirty and roughly in the public. if verbal argument between Oluwo of Iwo and Agbowu of Ogbagbaa is allowed to snowball into open confrontation,it shows the level of degeneration and moral laxities among the nation’s traditional rulers.

No matter the level of provocation, Oluwo should not have turned himself to a boxer. It saddens one heart to see two highly revered monarchs turning a peace meeting summoned by the police to a royal rumble. Even if no one speaks out against the shameful action of Oluwo, he should be courageous enough to cover his face in shame for ridiculing the stool of his forbears apart from the legal consequence of such inglorious behaviour in the public.

Regardless of the causative agent and irrespective of who actually provoked the situation, the action of Oluwo of Iwo remains condemnable. With the injury sustained by Oba Dhikrulahi Akinropo, the Agbowu of Ogbagbaa during the fiasco, the transgressor being the Oluwo in this circumstance should not be seen as being treated as a king who is above the law.

Failure to bring the controversial Oluwo to justice will become a bad precedence. Apart from the legal implications of assault occasioning harm, it is sacrilegious for a king to beat up another king either within or outside his domain.

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An open fight between the two royal fathers in which one ended in the hospital is highly ridiculous and could not be justified culturally and by ethical reasoning.

The continuous silence and philosophical calmness of Governor Isiaka Oyetola, the Governor of the spring state gives an impression that it is either His Excellency has overtly endorsed the reign of royal banditry in the state of Osun or probably the case of criminal assault is adjudged by the government as usual political matter.

In my view, none of the excuses given by Oluwo of Iwo to have turned himself to a boxer is reasonable enough to exonerate him of culpability. Someone needs to counsel Oluwo that the excuse that he only tried to defend himself against Agbowa’s attempt to stick his staff of office in his eyes seems to be a mere defence mechanism.

Since the royal rumble occurred in the state of Osun, the police authorities in whose presence the ugly incident happened has not made any public statement to deny or confirm the incident. If police could not made any statement twenty four hours after the royal fiasco, it may not be an aberration to accuse the police of connivance or negligence. This type of incident shouldn’t be handled whimsically or with levity because it can lead to communal crisis, if carelessly handled.

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What the incident further portend is that no one is saved even in the custody of the police, if assault of that magnitude could be successfully carried out in the presence of AIG and other top government functionaries.

The incident also raises the question of several unresolved land and boundary disputes among communities in Nigeria. With the current trend in the country, land disputes cannot be resolved by physical combat rather the parties in such conflicts should learn to approach the court of law once peaceful resolution seems to be impossible.

The state government must equally have an holistic look at the immediate and remote causes of land disputes in the state of Osun for the state to achieve sustainable peace, progress and development.

 

Rahaman Onike, Public Affairs Analyst writes from Oyo town, Oyo State.

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Opinion

Can Amotekun Be A Threat to Non – Yorubas? | By Abba Dukawa

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The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, argued that security “is a matter that is within the exclusive operational competence of the Federal Government of Nigeria. He added that: “No other authority at the state level, whether the executive or legislature has the legal authority over defence.”

The argument he made was that military and paramilitary outfits to defend Nigeria and its citizens is determined by the Constitution. “no State Government, whether singly or in a group has the legal right and competence to establish any form of organization or agency for the defence of Nigeria or any of its constituent parts.

As we all know, the primary responsibility of government at any level is the protection of lives and property of the citizen. In carrying out this function, the state employs different layers of measures to ensure effective and efficient policing. It is without doubt that in the past decade, particularly, the current policing administration in our dear country had been stretched to its limits and it is obvious that the reality of our domestic security upheaval will demand of us to recalibrate our police systems.

In achieving this noble goal, the police, the armed forces, and the court of law have swung into action with a view to protect the rights and liberties of Nigerian citizens and its residents within the country. Individuals’ conducts and behaviours living together and within the Nigerian society have been regulated in order for them to conform to the laid down rules and regulations, even as those violating the laws are punished.

Many writers argue that many State governments established such organazations like Kaduna State security outfit known as the “Kaduna State Vigilance Service” to assist security agencies to tackle criminality. The Sokoto State Government also established a local security outfit called “Yan Banga,” which operates in almost all the villages in the state to track criminals and hand them over to security agencies for prosecution. In Zamfara State, it established ‘Yan Sakai’ Local Vigilantes. Kano State has established the Hisbah Corps in 2003. In Borno State, the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) was created under the last administration called BOYES (Borno Youth Volunteers). They work in collaboration with the military to fight Boko Haram. Also working for the security of the state are local hunters and vigilante groups which have been around even before insurgency.

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The other North East States have similar outfits. In Taraba State, the Taraba Marshalls is a local security outfit set up by the state government in 2018 to tackle insecurity and other violent crimes. Rivers State Government’s Neighbourhood Safety Corps Agency. Ebonyi State Government also has the Neighbourhood Watch Group with membership drawn from the 13 local government areas of the state to complement the efforts of security agencies to control crimes and other security challenges in the state.

Since the return of civilian administration in the coyntry, Nigeria has witnessed an increase in the activities of ethnic and regional militia, vigilantes, and other armed groups in the last few years. One of the better-known of these groups is the O’odua People’s Congress (OPC) in the southwest which campaigns to protect the interests of the Yoruba ethnic group and seeks autonomy for the Yoruba people. The OPC is a complex organization which has taken on several different roles as it has adapted to the changing political and security environment in Nigeria.

Therefore federal government should do something to avert serious insecurity which Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN), codenamed Operation Amotekun may cause as the case. Nigerians have not forgotten that OPC was responsible for numerous human rights abuses and acts of violence, and its members have killed or injured hundreds of unarmed civilians In its spheres of activity-ethnic militancy and vigilantism- and fighting crimes.

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The most widespread killings by the OPC took place in the context of clashes between Yoruba, Hausa’s and other ethnic groups, which reached a peak during 2000 and 2002. However, violence and human rights abuses continued in 2000, 2001 and 2002. Between these years, Nigerians witnessed how OPC activities ranging from political agitation for Yoruba autonomy and promotion of Yoruba culture to violent confrontation with members of other ethnic groups resided in the South Western states in the name of vigilantism and crime-fighting.

How sure are we that Amotekun will not commit the same large-scale killings by the OPC in 2003. The clashes between OPC and other ethnic groups especially Hausas living in the southwest and how the southwest governors and the promoters of Amotekun will act to avert ethnic tensions which may likely arise. My concern on the formation of Amotekun is not personal but on safety of other ethnic groups living in the south west. There is likelyhood that members of Amotekun will commit large scale human right abuses based on ethnic differences. Finally, chairman of the South West Governors Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu, has said there is no going back on the operation of the regional security agency, Amotekun, which they are prepared to pursue to its logical conclusion. Governor Akeredolu emphasised that the governors of the region were committed to improved security and are particularly keen to address the rising wave of banditry, kidnapping and farmers and herders’ clashes. The stage is therefore set for a major confrontation between the Federal Government and the South West States.

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I blame previous administrations for not doing the needful in making sure that the Nigerian federation is kept intact by ensuring that law and order are maintained. It is one of the important responsibilities of the federal government to bring peace and tranquillity in the nation. However, Federal Government has for decades ignored State governors setting up security agencies all in the name of supporting security agencies in their respective States.

 

 

Abba Dukawa, Public Affairs Analyst and Media Practitioner writes from Kano State.

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Opinion

Opinion: The Travesty of Governance in Oyo | By Segun Adeoye

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For the first time since 1976 when old Oyo state was created and since 1992 when the old Oyo state was split into two, carving out the present State of Osun, the election of Seyi Makinde as the governor of Oyo state signifies the first time the state is bedevilled with the misfortune of a chief executive whose only obsession is to enjoy the accolade of being a governor.

He brings to government the myopic mindset of cheap populism in an attempt to pull wool over the public’s eyes that he’s a saint and that his immediate predecessor is a devil!

Governance has never been this without direction in the state as it has been under the ‘juvenile Seyi Makinde’. Even during the reign of late former Governor Lamidi Adesina when federal allocations to the state were almost zero, Oyo state was not thrown into epileptic comatose. Since eight months ago when the administration of Seyi Makinde has been inaugurated, nothing new and novel has been done by way of developmental projects in the state except the legacies of enduring developments carried over from the last administration of the excellent His Excellency Abiola Ajimobi.

One recalls that by the sixth month of Senator Ajimobi in his first tenure as the governor of Oyo state, the perennially problematic bridge between Customs and Awolowo Roundabout on Secretariat-Bodija road had been constructed and it was named Restoration Bridge! The solid reconstruction of the bridge is indeed a restoration of hope, protection and peace of mind for the teeming motorists and passersby who used to experience untold hardship plying the erstwhile flood-ravaged bridge. The time was when there was a flood disaster around Ibadan metropolis, resulting from the persistently torrential rains.

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Senator Ajimobi’s administration went to work immediately, dredging rivers and reconstructing bridges in the areas where the floods wreaked most havoc. Till the administration of Senator Ajimobi wound up, there was no record of flood disasters in Ibadan metropolis! All these projects of immense impact and more were done within the first six months to one year during the first tenure of Senator Abiola Ajimobi!

However, since Governor Seyi Makinde has been at the helms in the state, little or nothing has been done in terms of solid developmental projects apart from pockets of developmental flukes like the 100 units of Kia Rio cars, unsuitable for security surveillance and patrols, which the governor bought for security agents.

Governance has been at its lowest ebbs in the state. The local government crises the governor manufactured and because of which he has abandoned governance has pushed governance to recess. Nothing is working in the state except the touted regular payment of salaries because of which Governor Makinde has incurred debts running into hundreds of billions of naira. Is this the mediocrity Oyo people have to cope with for the next three years?

Those who saw today during the past electioneering that the present governor does not possess the mental acuity and mature temperament to take the state to the next level the past administration of Senator Abiola Ajimobi has prepared her for is right after-all.

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Segun Adeoye writes from University of Ibadan

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