Eniola Akinkuotu, Olufemi Olaniyi and Peter Dada
The South-West states, through the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria Commission, have disagreed with the Presidency that the Western Nigerian Security Network, codenamed Operation Amotekun, will now be run in accordance with the structure defined by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said on Tuesday on Sunrise Daily, a programme of Channels Television, that the structure of the security network would be as prescribed by the IG.
Shehu was speaking on the approval of N13bn by the Federal Government for community policing across the 36 states of the federation.
“Whatever name they go by, Amotekun or whatever, will be streamlined and they will be run in accordance with the structure as defined by the Inspector-General of Police. They will be localised; they will be owned by the local communities. They will be managed by them,” he said.
The President’s spokesman further stated that the community policing structure would be the same across the 36 states and whatever would not conform with the national structure would not be “in the scheme of things.”
Shehu added, “You know the constitution of the committees will be defined as including council chairmen, traditional rulers, religious leaders, civil society groups and all of that.
“So, you are going to have a single type structure of community policing permitted all across the country and whatever is not in line with this does not have a place in the scheme of things. That is my understanding.”
When asked whether the new community policing being introduced by the Federal Government would not be in conflict with the Amotekun, which was created by Houses of Assembly of the six South-West states, the President’s spokesman said the conflict would only in terms of perception.
Shehu said governors were carried along in the process through the National Economic Council, which comprises the 36 governors and headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
However, the Director-General, DAWN, Dr Seye Oyeleye, “The houses of assembly in the six states in the South-West have passed laws to guide the operations of Amotekun in their states. I don’t know what he (Shehu) meant except he is saying that the order of the Inspector-General of Police supersedes the states’ laws.
“Amotekun is guided by the states’ laws. The setting up of community policing should not in any way disturb the operations of Amotekun. In any federal system, there are multi-layers of policing and the more the merrier; Nigeria needs policing at different layers.
“The operations of Amotekun are guided by the laws duly passed by the houses of Assembly in the six states in the region and the bills were assented to by the governors.
“When I read what was credited to Garba Shehu, I found it strange. The Ondo State Amotekun is fully operational. Even Garba Shehu contradicted himself while saying this. He said on the one hand, the IG would supervise Amotekun, and on the other hand, he said Amotekun was guided by individual state laws.
“If the states have passed the laws to guide the operations of Amotekun in their states, then there is no issue. Nigeria is not a unitary state, it runs a federal system. The states are allowed in law to have their security outfits as long as they are backed by law.
“But I find it a bit strange that he is saying that one superman will sit in Abuja and control security outfits in the states. I am sure that the lawmakers in the states would have read what he said and would just laugh it off. What is the point in the states passing the bills and their governors assenting them if the IG will run the outfit?
“Community policing is the way to go and it cannot be controlled by a single person in Abuja. We are operating a federal structure and Abuja should concentrate on its own community policing. I don’t want to believe that they are setting up their community policing structure to undermine what any state is doing. That shouldn’t be.”
Similarly, the Special Adviser to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State on Security Matters, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo, said the structure of Amotekun was already contained in the law that set up the agency.
He said, “I believe that Shehu was not well quoted because the setting up Operation Amotekun passed through all legal and legislative process.
“We passed the bill and it was signed into law by the governor. Everything about Amotekun is in the law that set it up.
“So I wonder why Shehu is saying this now but I believe he will deny the statement.”