South-West Govs in Talks with FG Over Arms for Amotekun — Oyebanji

In a bid to combat the rising insecurity in the South-West region, the six state governors in the zone have commenced discussions with President Bola Tinubu-led Federal Government on the need for the Amotekun corps to carry sophisticated arms.

The Ekiti State governor, Biodun Oyebanji, who disclosed this on Sunday during a media chat ‘Meet Your Governor ‘ in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, said governors were of the view that the growing level of kidnappings, killings and other heinous crimes in the region would be adequately tackled by the local security outfit with the right arms.

He disclosed that the former administration of President Muhammadu Buhari allegedly frustrated the effective and efficient operations of the local security network when it was established a few years ago.

Oyebanji described President Tinubu as an advocate of true federalism, expressing optimism that the present administration would agree with the South-West states on the need for the Amotekun corps to be legally and operationally empowered to confront criminal elements in the region.

“On Amotekun, I think we are turning the corner but I also know the legal structural limitations to Amotekun. We didn’t have the kind of robust engagement we would have love to have with the last administration at the federal level ; grudgingly they allowed us to be but they planted a lot of obstacles on its effectiveness, they can’t carry arms but you know that the present President is an advocate of true Federalism and I am sure we will navigate that.

“I don’t know how you want someone to combat criminals without protecting himself, that is a big issue. So, what we are using Amotekun for now is to gather intelligence that we share with formal security apparatus.

“Amotekun has the potential to do more if they are allowed to carry arms and it is a conversation the South West governors are having with the federal government and I am sure very soon , something will be done in that regard, because it is glaring that the local entity understands the environment better and we will get to the end of that very soon; the discussion has been positive”, he said.

On the recurring farmer-herder clashes in the state, the governor who described it as unacceptable, added that the government had responded to the situation with the formation of the Farmer/Herder Peace Committee which he said was helping in addressing the situation.

“Despite the skirmishes, Ekiti is still one of the safest states in the country and the south west but we still have pockets of criminalities. We still need to tackle the root cause of criminalities in our society.

“Farmers and Herders clashes are unacceptable to me and I cannot factor a reason why a farmer goes to the farm, worked and at the point of cropping, some people will just unleash and destroy them. However, we have put in place what we have done; farmers/ herders peace committee which has been extremely effective.

“In fairness, most of the criminals that come are not the herders, that is the truth and if you want to open Ekiti to business, we cannot ask people not to legitimately make their earnings here. This system has separated the real herders from the criminal herders. The real herders are part of us and they have information and intelligence on the activities of the criminal ones; they share information with us and before they strike, we move in but in areas they graze on people’s farm, they pay compensation.

“That is a temporary measure and to have a permanent measure, we are collaborating with our traditional rulers, to give us intelligence because once you have the correct intelligence, it allows you to react appropriately, we don’t want to be reactive”, he said.

Oyebanji, while speaking on the planned procurement of drones and tracker by the last administration of Dr Kayode Fayemi, added, “Yes, we wanted to procurement drones and tracker during last administration, I was SSG then and it was done through my office, we got the tracker with Ondo state, we shared the payment and the condition was to give to DSS to operate it for us. It is not convenient and there is what we call end users certificate and they didn’t give us unless we gave them to use.

“We wanted to get the drones but the former NSA did not give us the permission; we paid the contractors but they refunded the money before the last administration left. We didn’t have the drones but we got the tracker; it is a conversation I am having with the present NSA now and the discussion has been positive.”