South-west States Reject FG’s Bid to Regulate Regional Security Agencies

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Mallam Garba Shehu

•Says IG can’t determine Amotekun’s structure

James Sowole in Akure, Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti and Yinka Kolawole in Osogbo

Some states in the South-west yesterday rejected a bid by the federal government to regulate regional security outfits.

They faulted a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, that the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, will determine the structure of the regional security agencies, including the Western Nigerian Security Network codenamed ‘Operation Amotekun.’

Amotekun, an initiative of the six states in the South-west to enhance security for the region by partnering national security agencies, was birthed amidst the controversy from the federal government’s opposition to the idea.
The law passed by the various Houses of Assembly in the region specified the structure, functions and other key outlines for the regional security outfit.

Shehu, however, stoked the controversy yesterday as he said on a live television programme that Amotekun would be run, in accordance with the structure to be defined by the IG.
“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 local communities, they will be managed by them,” he added.

According to him, the community policing structure will be the same across the 36 states and whatever does not conform with the national structure will not be “in the scheme of things.”
“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,” he stated.

Reacting to the presidency’s position, the Ekiti State government said the recruitment and mode of operations of Amotekun would be determined by it.
The Special Adviser on Security to the governor, Brig. Gen. Ebenezer Ogundana (rtd.), told THISDAY that all the states in the South-west operating the security network enjoyed the legal rights to control the outfit.

Ogundana countered the position canvassed by Shehu, saying only the community policing being proposed by the federal government will be controlled by the IG.

He explained: “Going by the law that established Amotekun, all the states have the legal powers to control the outfit.
“The recruitments and operations are under the states. Even those to be recruited into Amotekun in Ekiti have been contacted about the date of the recruitment.

“So, only the community police will be controlled by the federal government with the arrangements on the ground.
“The states that established Amotekun will control the Amotekun security network.”
Also speaking on the issue, the Ondo State government yesterday said those pushing the idea of centralised regulation of Amotekun might be ignorant of the provisions of the law that established it.

The Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the Ondo State governor on Security, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo, told THISDAY in Akure that the law that established Amotekun is clear on its operations and structure.

According to him, “Amotekun is a project established by law made by the state House of Assembly. Whoever said what you asked me about may be ignorant of the law. By and large, Amotekun came into being because the police could not do what was expected in terms of security. If the police had been doing as expected, there would not be a need for Amotekun.

“Amotekun is quite different from community policing that the federal government is setting up. Amotekun came before community policing.
“But let me say this, Amotekun is not to compete with the existing security agencies but established to complement their operations. So, Amotekun was established by law and would operate according to the law that creates it.”

The Osun State government said the security outfit remained the brain-child of all the governors in the South-west.
The Chief Press Secretary to Governor Gboyega Oyetola, Mr. Ismail Omipidan, stated that the structure of the security outfit should not be a problem since the outfit was a brainchild of the South-west governors.

Meanwhile, the police have clarified that states will be responsible for the salary and upkeep of community policemen.
The Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of Research and Planning, Mr. Adeleye Oyebade, said on a television programme that the Nigeria Police Force remained one entity but constables to be recruited for community policing would be part-time personnel.

He explained: “They are special constables and they shall be recruited as community policing officers and the process of recruitment shall be guided by Section 49 to 50 of the Nigeria Police Act.

“So, the special constable is going to be an auxiliary police officer.
“We are expecting them to put in 16 working hours in a week and the remuneration is going to be paid by the state government after we must have trained and retrained and got them deployed in the local government where they have been recruited because they know the culture, the language, the orientation and the topography of the area for them to be able to work with the police at that level.”