As Amotekun’s work begins, it is expected that leaders of the South-West will invest in infrastructure and technology to drive the process. They should ensure they put a legal framework in place to guide the operation and curb the excesses of members, considering that membership is being drawn from a notorious group like the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) and other local vigilantes.


EDITOR’S NOTE: This column had already been written and submitted before the more recent, and no less controversial, declaration of the establishment of Amotekun as violating the Nigerian Constitution by the attorney-general of the federation.

Although controversies still trail the South-West security initiative, Operation Amotekun, in the aftermath of its launch last week, there seems to be a consensus that it is a solution-based idea whose time has come, even as people differ on modalities.
The discourses revolve around logistics, scope, modus operandi, functions, tools of operation and its novelty in the country’s statutes, in a federation which puts security under the Exclusive List in the Constitution, and not its desirability.

Tuesday January 7 was a historic moment for states of the South-West comprising, Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ogun and Ekiti. Together they launched the security scheme code-named Operation Amotekun, to secure and protect their people and geo-political zone from the menace of violent crimes leading to death and destruction.

Surprisingly, more than one week after, there has not been much opposition to it, even from the North, the most violence prone region, torn apart by insurgency in the form of the Boko Haram insurgency, banditry and kidnapping, apart from measured talks about a possible clash between Amotekun and the police, making the idea a fait accompli and an indication of the country’s readiness to experiment with anything new that has the capacity to curb crimes.

While police have warned about the consequences of Amotekun carrying arms, others talk about them using dane guns, and yet others say their job revolves around intelligence gathering.

An ex-Police commissioner in Lagos State and special adviser on security to the Oyo State governor, Fatai Owoseni, said Amotekun can use dane guns like hunters, “if it (dane gun) is necessary for in some instances, because hunters do carry their dane guns and go with their dogs…it is their tools, it is not illegal”. Ismail Omipidan, chief press secretary to Osun State governor also said Amotekun’s men “will gather intelligence” and send this to their operational headquarters.

On its part, the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, whose members’ conduct engendered Operation Amotekun in the first place, reacted rather cautiously. Its national secretary, Alhassan Saleh said, “We have no problem with them as long as they will not target our herders. We have our own defence mechanisms. We fight injustice anywhere, not only in Nigeria. So, if they end up meting out injustice to us, we will fight back. That is the truth but we are law abiding, and we must herd our cows until there is an alternative provided for us.”

The launch of Amotekun seems to have resonated well with a lot of people, considering the weight of how insecurity is felt in almost every household in Nigeria; but there are issues to ponder. Travellers will also be excited about the peace of mind that would be brought upon the lush green savannah road sides of the South-West, without butterflies in their stomach.


The Amotekun idea is still evolving and so details around it are sketchy. However, for a start, each state donated 20 vehicles each, making a total of 120 Amotekun vehicles, to be deployed accordingly; the headquarters will be at Ibadan; the size of the troops would be determined by what each of the six states has the capacity for and on the basis of the level of the security threat that comes up.

Besides, every state government will fund the troops within its territory. The capacity of a state will determine the size of troops it engages, and the idea is to localise policing; salaries of personnel will not be below the minimum wage and their operation will be seamless. Therefore, if something happens near Oyo, for example, the Ogun State Amotekun can cross into Oyo State to act and vice versa.

The launch of Amotekun seems to have resonated well with a lot of people, considering the weight of how insecurity is felt in almost every household in Nigeria; but there are issues to ponder. Travellers will also be excited about the peace of mind that would be brought upon the lush green savannah road sides of the South-West, without butterflies in their stomach. However, one issue of concern is how to reconcile the roles of Amotekun with that of the conventional police. If Amotekun will only carry dane guns, how will they subdue or confront AK-47 carrying militia and machine gun-wielding armed robbers or kidnappers? How sustainable is it anyway?

Although I like the idea of intelligence gathering by Amotekun members, for use by security personnel, it will amount to a waste of time and resources if the regular police do not follow up on this with investigation and prosecution.

Another question, is Amotekun going to have a desk in every police command under the jurisdiction of the states? Can governors give orders to the police to prosecute people that Amotekun accuses and or arrests?

Whether for political expediency or admission of failure, response from the Presidency has been measured. The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) controls five out of the six states in the South-West. The federal government has not cried foul or talked of suspicion or sabotage or attempt at secession, yet if exigencies beckon, no one knows how the South-West governments will use Amotekun to their advantage.

The symbolism of Amotekun is also not lost on other regions. The South-West governors put their political differences aside and worked in unity of purpose, proving once again that they are still the most progressive and liberal minded group, able to stand their ground when it matters.


One also wonders how the presidency would react if the South-South or South-East had taken this brazen initiative. Could the silence be due to their (the Presidency and South-West governors’) new found romance as members of the same party with the same interests?

Nevertheless, the South-West has proved once again that it is the most pragmatic and proactive zone in the country. Its power lies in thecooperation and collaboration of its constituents; a people working with a unified mission, vision and action, and readiness to jettison party affiliation when necessary.

No one should habour the illusion of a perfect situation; there could even be false starts but the creative and innovative minds that birthed Amotekun could think it and make amends with the passage of time.

The symbolism of Amotekun is also not lost on other regions. The South-West governors put their political differences aside and worked in unity of purpose, proving once again that they are still the most progressive and liberal minded group, able to stand their ground when it matters.

As Amotekun’s work begins, it is expected that leaders of the South-West will invest in infrastructure and technology to drive the process. They should ensure they put a legal framework in place to guide the operation and curb the excesses of members, considering that membership is being drawn from a notorious group like the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) and other local vigilantes. There is the need for citizen participation in order to have the buy-in of all.

As the South-West leads in community policing without resistance from the federal government, so shall state police come through in no distant future. It is the only way out; the only sensible way out of our security quagmire. Those who oppose state police now will come round to accepting the reality of it, depending on the success or otherwise of Operation Amotekun. Thus Amotekun’s advent will have a copious mention in the evolving history of Nigeria, however it goes.

zainabsule@yahoo.com, www.zainabokino.blogspot.com.