The governors of six southwest states came together on January 9, 2020 to launch the western Nigeria security network called ‘Operation Amotekun’ in Ibadan, Oyo state. The security outfit, according to the governors is not an attempt to disregard the federal security outfits but instead, to strengthen the security in southwest Nigeria. The governors explained that Amotekun, which is the Yoruba word for Leopard, is an outfit set up to complement the police and other state security outfits in the southwest. They can make arrests similar to that of citizen’s arrest when they see a troublemaker, but the Amotekun personnel do not have the rights to detain anybody in a cell or keep a suspected criminal without handling them over to the police.
While this is a good initiative and the southwest will no doubt benefit from it, it is important to know that there are troubles that might arise from the mismanagement or lack of proper plan of this initiative.
Below are three major problems Nigeria might face if Amotekun is not properly handled with clear cut duties.
Clash With Herdsmen
One of the major reasons the southwest governors came together to start Amotekun is because of insecurity on Southwest roads. In the past, several incidents of kidnapping and robberies on southwest roads have been blamed on herdsmen and Fulani marauders, and while this might be true, it is important to never forget that not all Fulanis are criminals and not all criminals are Fulani. What this means is that if care is not taken, the Amotekun personnel, who are mostly Yorubas, might be unjust in their engagements with herdsmen and Fulani nomads and this may lead to prejudice. A long time effect of this will no doubt be a strain on the relationship between the south-west and the north and may likely lead to crises if northerners feel that their people in the south-west are being victimized.
Unruly Behaviour and Extrajudicial Killings
Nigerian security personnel are known to misuse power. From military officers harassing civilians to SARS extrajudicial killing and police officers extorting innocent youngsters, we are yet to get it right when it comes to the kind of people employed into our forces. The organizers of Amotekun must therefore be firm in their decision to recruit upstanding Nigerians because if the Amotekun became a menace to southwest, the government will not be the only one to be blamed. Rather, the failure of Amotekun will be a stain on the Yoruba tribe as a whole. It is important that the personnel of Amotekun have a clear cut description of what their duties are. They should know what to involve in and what is not their business. It will be a shame to see the personnel of these initiative chasing around innocent young Nigerians for wearing “indecent clothes”, rocking dreadlocks or worst, go the way of Nigerian police and SARS and arrest innocent people for daring to live a lifestyle that is above poverty level. Perhaps one of the ways to ensure that the Amotekun personnel do not become nuisances in the society is to ensure that they are paid well and as and when due, and most importantly, that any transgression from them is not overlooked or cover up by the authority.
Personal Gains and Misuse
There is the fear that mighty people in southwest might hijack the use of Amotekun for their personal gains. The organizers of Amotekun and the powerful people in southwest must remember that this initiative was started to improve security in southwest and not to harass political opponents, rivals, or husbands of their concubines and most importantly, they are not available to cease/steal ballot boxes or harass voters during election.
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