Let it be known that Amotekun is a value system whose primary organisational goal is working cooperatively with citizens as individuals or groups to prevent crime, identify criminals and report criminal activity affecting the livability of each state in the West of Nigeria… It is an ideological change in combating crime.


For months, states in Western Nigeria were under siege by rampaging herdsmen, kidnappers, bandits and all kinds of criminals seeking to control the expressways linking the states and other major roads linking cities. Organised crime almost turned the region into a lawless ungoverned space in which bandits and killer herdsmen demanded ransom, killed their victims, raped women, ransacked villages, halted commerce, seized farms, burnt down villages, and stole cash and other valuables. The entire region was in panic. People felt unsafe and boxed in, knowing the marauders could still show up at any time. The criminals made sure that people got nothing done by inducing fear in them. Farmers stopped going to farm, trade from the villages to urban centres suffered and visiting families in the rural areas became a dreadful proposition. As organised violence took hold of the region, the effects of deliberate pauperisation through millions paid in ransom became very concerning, in a tough economic environment.

For a country riddled by an embarrassment of chaos, widespread insecurity became a test of the ability of governors in the zone to take the lead in securing their states. Every kidnap, every attack on settlements highlighted the disadvantages of an inadequate and centralised police force, which is limited in manpower, training and equipment, in stabilising a country increasingly defined by thw activities of well-armed gangs. In like manner, the widespread insecurity presented a reality check on how the pretend federalism Nigeria runs, contradicts and limits itself.

The unfortunate pronouncement of Amotekun as illegal by the Attorney General Abubakar Malami has succeeded in making it the most important conversation we are presently having, since June 12. Letting similar outfits thrive in the North, while declaring the same illegal in the West is major league hypocrisy.


Not taking a long view for what is best for the country as a whole has been the bane of Nigeria, and it might be its greatest undoing. It is sad that ethnic loyalty and ethno-political considerations define the short and long views in Nigeria. For more than a century, many Fulani had settled among the Yoruba without any problem. With civil wars in the horn of Africa, Libya and Central Africa Republic and the growth of terrorism on the continent, bearing arms has become part of the material culture of herdsmen. While people were getting killed and their lands taken over, the federal government looked away dismissing the situation as the traditional feuding between herders and farmers. This is no traditional feuding. The Yoruba has had the Fulani living and thriving among them for ages. What is happening now is adversarial and evil. The pattern suggests a challenge to the existence of the Nigerian State as defined by colonialism by organised violent actors. In functioning societies, the state alone has the centrality of power and authority. If another entity exists, establishes and imposes its authority on sizeable portions of the same geography, it is often a prerequisite for the disintegration of a sovereign state. The bandits, herdsmen and kidnappers as a collective or a franchise, were unto making Western Nigeria their own thiefdom, until the governors rose to ensure the safety and security of their people’s lives and property.

Before the security summit that birthed the Western Nigeria Security Network (Amotekun), economic activity outside Lagos was already weakening. Thankfully, Amotekun was conceived to help maximise public safety and restore confidence to all living and or doing business in the region. The unfortunate pronouncement of Amotekun as illegal by the Attorney General Abubakar Malami has succeeded in making it the most important conversation we are presently having, since June 12. Letting similar outfits thrive in the North, while declaring the same illegal in the West is major league hypocrisy. Malami’s hypocrisy was the adverse stimulus the Yoruba needed to galvanise themselves in the face of an existential threat. It lends credence to the beliefs held by those who see the rampagin of herdsmen as an ethnic expansionist agenda built on domination and the forceful occupation of ancestral land of the Yoruba.

The Yoruba understands their role as the gorilla glue that binds Nigeria together. The region can ill afford becoming an engine room of misery and failure. The Yoruba has an existential and emotional attachment to Amotekun. Our governors simply rose to the yearnings and aspirations of law abiding indigenes and residents of the region.


Let it be known that Amotekun is a value system whose primary organisational goal is working cooperatively with citizens as individuals or groups to prevent crime, identify criminals and report criminal activity affecting the livability of each state in the West of Nigeria. Apart from external defence, the security of lives and property is the next most important function of any government. No meaningful economic activity and development can happen in an unsafe environment. That, among other reasons, is why safety is important in our daily lives. It affects how we see the government, our economy and, at times, peace itself. Amotekun is antithetical to the traditional image of reacting to crime. Its principles infuses confidence, and it is predicated upon the prevention of crime and peacemaking. It is an ideological change in combating crime. Given the terror of 2018 to 2019, it is obvious that public safety and protection cannot continue to be the exclusive concern of the Nigerian Police, but that of the entire community.

The Yoruba understands their role as the gorilla glue that binds Nigeria together. The region can ill afford becoming an engine room of misery and failure. The Yoruba has an existential and emotional attachment to Amotekun. Our governors simply rose to the yearnings and aspirations of law abiding indigenes and residents of the region. Safety and security is a fundamental right. It cannot be illegal.

Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for PREMIUM TIMES. Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo