The Senator representing Ondo South Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Nicholas Tofowomo, has condemned the formation of the Southwest Security Network, also known as Operation Amotekun.
Mr Tofowomo said the operatives have failed to achieve their objectives of curbing insecurity because the six southwest states failed to carry “critical stakeholders along at the formative stages”.
PREMIUM TIMES, on several occasions, reported how killings and kidnappings for ransom have become rampant on the nation’s highways and farms, including in the south-west region.
At a time in the region, the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Olu Falae, was abducted by armed herders on his farm in Akure. Despite efforts by police to free him, Mr Falae still paid N5 million to regain his freedom.
Also, Olufunke Olakurin, the daughter of the Afenifere chieftain, Reuben Fasoranti, was also shot and killed while on her way to Lagos by suspected herdsmen along Ore road.
At the peak of the insecurity, the six governors in the region met to create Operation Amotekun, a security outfit that is not completely independent of the existing security structure but supports the police and others.
But Mr Tofowomo said the security outfit was formed without carrying prominent people in the region along.
“The governors of the South-West created Amotekun without getting the input of critical stakeholders. I am not part of it as a senator. We have 18 senators from the South-West and none of us was involved. The members of the House of Representatives were not also involved,” he told Punch Newspaper in an interview on Friday.
“They should have involved a lot of people. They should have carried everybody along. They should have organised a big symposium and the communique at the end of it should indicate that all of us have agreed.
“They just took the bill directly to the Houses of Assembly without the input of stakeholders. We are not part of it. We are just watching them like a film. That is why they cannot tackle insecurity in their states.”
Speaking on the controversy surrounding the eviction of Fulani herdsmen from some communities in the south-west, the senator said “self-defence is a wrong tactic. Those who are advocating it are putting the cart before the horse.
“They should rather tell the governors who are using the Amotekun as bodyguards to fund them and position the corps to tackle the herdsmen.”
He also said herdsmen may not vacate the Ondo forest despite Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s directive because he (Akeredolu) failed to back his pronouncements by law.
“When the governor gave the directive, my thinking was that he would back it up with an executive bill to the Ondo State House of Assembly,” he said. “It is his duty as the Chief Security Officer of the state. If a law is passed in that regard, police would enforce it.
“Now, he gave an order not backed by law – because there is no structure on the ground that could make the police carry out the order. When structures are on the ground, people will know that you are serious. We have problems of insecurity in Nigeria because the Nigeria Police has failed. They are just like security guards. They have no vehicles to go to the bush.
“Many state governors collect between N500m and N700m every month as security votes but we don’t know what they do with it. They will just buy a few vehicles for the police. As of today, there is no bill against open grazing in Ondo State.
“The bill should involve all the stakeholders, to be effective. Traditional rulers should be encouraged to set up vigilante and stop movement of cows,” he said.
Mr Akeredolu doubles as the Chairman of Southwest governors. His Chief Press Secretary, Segun Ajiboye, could not be reached for comments.
He did not respond to calls and text messages sent to him as of press time.
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