Governors of Southwest states has declared that the zonal security outfit is neither a replacement for the nation’s security system nor a state police.
They also assured that the outfit will not be deployed as a political tool.
The governors gave the assurance in Ibadan as the novel zonal security initiative – The Western Nigerian Security Network (WNSN) was inaugurated. It is code-named Operation Amotekun.
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 local level of the security outfit will be solely handled by individual states. The two levels will work in collaboration.
While the headquarters will be in Ibadan, the operation will be controlled from Gbongan in Osun State.
Chairman of Southwest Governors Forum, Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, performed the inauguration of the equipment in the presence of Governors Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) and Seyi Makinde (Oyo).
Osun State Governor Adegboyega Oyetola was represented by Deputy Governor Benedict Alabi while Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun was represented by Deputy Governor Noimot Salako-Oyedele.
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was part of the decision to create Operation Amotekun at the security meeting in November 2019 in Ibadan, was absent.
Fayemi 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”.
The Ekiti State governor added that the magnitude of insecurity witnessed in the Southwest last year which led to the need for Amotekun could not be ignored. He said there was a need for additional support for security agencies.
Akeredolu 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.”
Makinde said it was an honour for Oyo State to host the launch of another first-of-its-kind project in Ibadan.
He said it was time for Southwest to be brave, stressing that Amotekun was in the direction of achieving that.