South-West governors and the apex Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, on Wednesday differed on the All Progressives Congress leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s position on the Western Nigerian Security Network, Operation Amotekun.
Afenifere chieftains, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and Senator Femi Okurounmu, had, in a report challenged Tinubu to speak on the security outfit, which the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, on Thursday last week declared illegal.
But Tinubu, in a statement he personally signed, took a neutral position on Amotekun. He blamed both the South-West governors and Malami for the controversy the matter had generated.
Tinubu said the intentions of the governors were good but the manner with which Amotekun was being set up was wrong.
He also criticised Malami for issuing a statement condemning the initiative when he could have simply reached out to them and handled it internally and more amicably.
Governor Akeredolu, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Security, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo, alongside, the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, DAWN’s Head, Special Projects and Funding, and Prince Adetayo Adeleke-Adedoyin all said it was commendable for Tinubu to have broken silence on the issue.
They said, “We have to commend our leader, Asiwaju Tinubu, for his comments. As a leader who loves his people, he has made objective observations in his statement.
“In the comment he could see that the Operation Amotekun can never be a threat to the unity of the country and that the people of the South-West needed to be protected by their governors. Also, all other issues he pointed out in the statement would be looked into. But he has spoken well.”
But the Afenifere dismissed the statement by the former Lagos State governor, saying it lacked substance.
It said Tinubu spoke in a forked tongue, adding that his statement failed to defend the decision taken by his kinsmen to defend themselves against marauders.
The National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, in an interview with our correspondent, recalled how President Muhammadu Buhari, visited the then Oyo State Governor, Lam Adesina, to protest the alleged killing of his kinsmen.
He said, “Maybe, he (Tinubu) should have kept quiet. This is not the time to speak in a forked tongue. What is the reason? You are afraid of Buhari?
“In 2001, when there was a crisis between herdsmen and farmers, what did Buhari do? He went to Ibadan and told Governor Lam Adesina ‘your people are killing my people.’
“In 2013, what did Buhari do? He told President Goodluck Jonathan you can’t declare amnesty for Niger Delta militants while killing Boko Haram. Attack against Boko Haram is an attack against the North.
“We are being killed for months, our women are being raped. Now, our governors are taking a token measure to secure our people. At this point, if you can’t speak for the people, it is better to keep quiet. We are not impressed.”
Also, an Afenifere leader, Adebanjo, said Tinubu only came out to react because of his aspiration to be President in 2023.
Adebanjo, who obviously disagreed with Tinubu’s position, said the APC National Leader would not say anything that would contradict the position of Buhari.
However, a human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, said the South-West governors should submit bills on Amotekun to their houses of Assembly.
In a statement on Wednesday, Falana noted that the police had endorsed Amotekun while the attorney general of the federation questioned its legality.
He stated, “Although I had cause to take issue with Mr Malami over his legal opinion on the security outfit, I was compelled to call on each of the South-West governors to forward a bill to the house of assembly of each state for the formation of Amotekun.”
According to him, in the absence of an enabling legal instrument for the establishment, structure, functions, control, funding and operation of Amotekun various interest groups in the country have continued to express divergent views.
He stated, “Amotekun is not a regional paramilitary organisation but a zonal security outfit being set up to assist the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies in combating incessant killings, kidnapping, armed robberies and other violent crimes that are on the ascendancy in the region due to the negligence of the Federal Government to effectively police the country.”
Apart from those who are strenuously opposed to Amotekun, the concerned people in the South-West who have embraced the security initiative are entitled to know the law setting it up.
Therefore, the attorneys general in the states in the South-West should be saddled with the urgent responsibility of ensuring that the enabling laws for Amotekun are enacted by the respective houses of assembly without any further delay.”
He advised the Federal Government not to resort to force or self-help in resolving the constitutional dispute.