Members of the Yoruba Worldwide Congress, hunters union, Oodua People’s Congress, the National Association of Nigerian Students as well as other groups in the South-west region, on Tuesday, protested the opposition of the federal government to the regional security outfit tagged Amotekun.
The groups marched through the streets of the capitals of the states, demanding that the federal government retrace its steps, and that the regional governors remain resolute in pursuing the actualisation of Amotekun.
In Ado-Ekiti, besides NANS and OPC, other groups such as Vigillante Group of Nigeria, Yoruba Koya, Man ‘O War, Oodua Union, Ekiti Council of Elders and Agbekoya were also at the solidarity rally.
The police and operatives of the State Security Services provided security for the participants, who trekked from the popular Fajuyi park through Okesa junction, Ojumose to the popular Erekesan market and Ijigbo area of Ado Ekiti.
The groups, in their respective submissions, held that the Amotekun initiative had berthed permanently in the region and that it was not formed to fight Fulani herders but only the unruly and destructive ones.
Speaking at the rally, a student leader and coordinator of the peace protest, Praise Ayodele, said Amotekun had come to stay in the South-west.
“We are not fighting anybody. The security of our people is very important. We are to do this to support our governors that we are happy with Amotekun,” he said.
“It is sad that our people were being killed and kidnapped and many of these carnages were without arrests. We are daily in fear of being killed and these and many more are the reasons for the formation of Amotekun.
“On the proscription of Amotekun by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, we are of the opinion that the minister only expressed himself as a private citizen who is entitled to his own opinion.
“We charge our governors to remain focused, we advise our leaders to desist from politicising Amotekun and that our security should be of priority.”
Also, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Kayode Fayemi on Internal Security, who is a former Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Dele Olugbemi, said Amotekun was for easy identification of all visitors to Ekiti and South-west.
“It is sad that Malami made a pronouncement over an issue he knew nothing about. He spoke as if he didn’t know the level of insecurity in this zone,” he said.
“Some of these evil doers besieged even our towns, killed the people and destroyed everything in the farm. Amotekun will work in their localities and it is not about fighting anybody.”
Making his contributions, the Coordinator of Oodua Union, Femi Robinson, said the security architecture in the country had collapsed and local security had become imperative.
“If Amotekun disarm armed robbers, are they not helping the police?” he asked.
The leaders of Agbekoya and Vigillante Group of Nigeria, Sunday Omoyajowo and Suwebat Aliu respectively, said Yoruba people would maintain a united front on Amotekun and “that nothing would change that.”
The leader of the delegation of Ekiti Council of Elders, Niyi Ajubulu, regretted that people could no longer move around as a result of increased insecurity .
“We have to be vigilant in this zone. Amotekun has landed and we must cooperate with them. Whoever that is averse to the formation of this outfit is satanic,” he said.
In Akure, the Ondo State capital, the NANS, Zone D, comprising Ondo, Osun, Ekiti, Oyo, Ogun and Lagos states, during the protest, denounced the AGF’s declaration of Amotekun as Illegal.
The students’ body said it was giving the AGF two weeks ultimatum to retract his statement noting that his failure to do so will lead to the shut down of all campuses across the South-west region.
The protesters carried placards with various inscriptions and marched through FIWASAYE girls college to ‘A’ Division Police Station, in Akure, the Ondo State Capital, chanting solidarity songs in support of Amotekun.
The South-west NANS Coordinator, Kowe Odunayo, who led the protest, described the declaration by Mr Malami as embarrassing and political.
“Amotekun is an idea whose time has come to stay for the betterment of the people, it was initiated to complement the efforts of the conventional internal security agencies that appear to have been hampered by the absence of local intelligence gathering; there is no doubt, we are lacking security in the South-west region, hence the need to support Amotekun,” Mr Odunayo said.
Another student leader from Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo, Ebiniyi Goodwin, in his remarks, described Amotekun as a timely intervention that would do the nation good.
In Abeokuta in Ogun State, the Amotekun solidarity witnessed a low turnout.
But the police and civil defence corps were also seen stationed in strategic locations of the venue, at Rally Square in Panseke area of the town.
The protesters marched with placards of various inscriptions to support the security initiative, insisting that the regional security network will work.
The Ogun State Coordinator of Amotekun Solidarity rally, Jimoh Taofeek, while addressing the rally, urged the federal government to reconsider its position on the controversial issue, explaining that Amotekun is not established to witch-hunt anybody but rather to complement efforts of other security agencies in the country.
“We are here to reach out to the larger public. We want to tell the federal government and the entire Nigerian populace that we want Amotekun in South-west,” he said.
“If Hisbah can be in the Northern States, if there can be Azaru, there can be Civilian JTF, if there can be vigilante groups, some of them even carry arms, arresting even legitimate police officers and being prosecuted, so there is no reason why we should not consider Amotekun in South-west.
“Besides, I want to make it very clear that Amotekun is not to witch-hunt anybody whatsoever. I think one of the major responsibilities is to protect the masses, the safety of lives and properties is the major responsibility of the government.”
Similarly, the Secretary-General of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Olayinka Folarin, said Amotekun was a reality that had manifested, declaring further that it had come to stay.
“If we don’t secure ourselves, nobody will secure us. This outfit is to complement the efforts of other security outfits. All people living in South-west must support Amotekun.”
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police, Kenneth Ebrimson, who came earlier to monitor the security arrangements at the venue, assured that the command would always ensure the protection of lives and properties of the people residing in the state.
“I am on routine visit, everyday, I go round the metro to ensure that everywhere is calm but I got intelligence reports that some groups yet unidentified are trying to protest or do rally and I just came around to talk to my men and place them on alert to ensure that there is no breach of peace.”
In Ibadan, Oyo State, the Yoruba Worldwide Congress (YWC) led the protest in support of Amotekun and declared “it will not allow anyone to rape women or kill farmers in the six South-west states henceforth”.
The group also reacted to the reported blockage of the rally in Lagos State by some security agents and maintained that no amount of intimidation from Nigeria Police Force, could stop the existence of Western Nigeria Security Network also known as Amotekun.
The Oyo State Coordinator of YWC, Kunle Adesokan, while speaking with journalists during the rally, said there was no going back on Amotekun, adding that “Yoruba people would not allow foreigners to come and kill their people unnecessary.”
Some of the groups present at the rally include, Hunters Group of Nigeria, Yoruba Youth Socio-cultural Association (YYSA), Agbekoya group, Atayese, Yoruba Reconciliation Groups, Kaaro Ojiire group, Oodua People Congress , Majiyagbe Group Vigilante group, United Self Determination People, Oodua Liberation Movement, Oodua Sovereignty Defence Agenda, Ojulowo Omo Oodua Group, Soludero group, among others.
In Osogbo, the Osun State capital, protesters under the aegies of Yoruba World Congress, trooped to the major streets of the city to protest.
The groups converged on the Freedom Park and marched through major streets in Osogbo, carrying placard with various inscription to express their grievances.
They called on the governors not to back down on the implementation of the security outfit despite pressure from the federal government.
Coordinator of the protest, Akin Adejuwon, called on the people of the region to give their total support to the governors in ensuring the success of Amotekun.
The solidarity rallies were held following the stance of the federal government that Amotekun is illegal.
Some South-west governors including Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti and Seyi Makinde of Oyo have, however, insisted that the region would go ahead with the outfit despite the controversy.