By Damola Emmanuel
The roiling controversy over the establishment of the South West Security Initiative, otherwise known as Operation Amotekun, was effectively laid to rest on Thursday as the South West Governor rose from a crucial meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the State House in Abuja, and declared that the matter had been settled.
The ground-breaking peace parley was held after the expanded National Economic Council (NEC) meeting. In addition to the South West Governors, Mr. Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, as well as Mr. Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, were also in attendance.
After the meeting, Laolu Akande, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the Vice President, took to his twitter handle to break the good news.
In the tweet, made at 5.55p.m., local time, Akande said: “News Flash: FG, southwest governors agree on Amotekun.”
The message must have brought a huge relief to many Nigerians as the country had been on edge since the launch of the security initiative on January 9, 2020. Shortly after the launch, with pomp, at Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, various interest groups had read different meanings to the initiative, with some saying it was a way of balkanising Nigeria through the back door.
While the Miyetti Allah Cattle Rearers Association, and some powerful northern interests declared Amotekun as illegal and unconstitutional, and actually threatened fire and brimstone, a former governor of Kaduna State and fiery democracy advocate, Balarabe Musa, told a national newspaper, The Sun, that: “…taking into account what happened in the history of Nigeria, this Amotekun will lead to a declaration of Oduduwa Republic.”
“Look at the composition of those who constitute the organisation in addition to the six states governors,” Balarabe continued. “There is also the OPC, Afenifere, and others. So, the fear is quite obvious. And this is in spite of the fact that this government is incompetent. Definitely, this government is incompetent. And it is because of the incompetence of this government that this problem has arisen. But let us also not forget that this federal government is an alliance between the north and the southwest.”
Although Balarabe said the South West Governors did not go through the rigours of law nor engage like Kano State Government did prior to the establishment of Hisbah, the governors insisted that Amotekun aimed at engendering regional integration and providing a conducive atmosphere for both indigenes and settlers in the region to conduct their businesses without fear.
The AGF, Abubakar Malami, actually stoked the fire of dissent against the formation of the regional security initiative when he declared it illegal. But President Muhammadu Buhari later countered him when he said that his government had not taken a decision on the matter and that the administration was coming up with a national policy on community policing aimed at fighting the pervasive insecurity in the land.
However, after about two weeks of hot debates, accusations and counter-accusations, the controversy died a natural death on Thursday as the Federal Government and the South West Governors reached a compromise through the meeting which, Laolu Akande said, was held at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari who returned to Abuja Thursday after attending the UK-Africa Investments Summit 2020 in London.
During the closed door meeting, the parties agreed that legal framework should be put in place on the establishment of Amotekun.
Akande would later issue a statement in which he disclosed that the meeting was held at the instance of the President in response to a request by the six governors to see him over the raging controversy on Amotekun.
“However due to the president’s foreign engagement, he asked the Vice President to host the meeting,’Akande said in his release. “The meeting was very fruitful and unanimous resolutions were made on the way forward.
“Having regard to the need for all hands to be on deck in addressing the security concerns across the country, it was agreed that the structure of Amotekun should also align with the community policing strategy of the federal government.
“It was also agreed that necessary legal instruments will be put in place by each of the States to give legal backing to the initiative and address all issues concerning the regulation of the security structure.”