Security Analyst speaks on South-West Joint Security Task Force, 'Amotekun' 

By Olawale Oyegbade, The Nigerian Voice, S/W Bureau Chief
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As Governors of South-West States launched a Joint Security Task Force codenamed 'Amotekun' today to tackle crime in the region, a Security Analyst, Mr John Ogunlela said the concept is good even though many people are apprehensive.

Ogunlela said the guidelines for the activities of the Amotekun should be made known to the public so that people would not be in the dark about their activities.

According to him, "Nigeria is huge and growing necessitating the need for more effective policing. Decentralization of the policing effort is a critical aspect of creating such effectiveness and Nigeria should have addressed that decades ago."

"However, the day is now upon us. The rise in organised crimes of kidnapping for ransom, and assaults by a network of aliens usually thought to be associated with itinerant herdsmen has introduced a new dimension to the crime environment all over the country."

"In addition, clashes between farmers and herdsmen over grazing lands continues to threaten the very fabrics of peace in the land. The fallout of these particular crimes is injurious to economic development in a special way as it creates an extraordinary atmosphere of fear and of financial ruin for the victims."

"Policing against such crimes demand a constant feed of local intelligence and familiarity with the uninhabited terrain of the forests. Only the local people - the farmers and hunters who explore such remote terrains - have capacity to supply such intelligence."

"Of course, the only other group who have information on the details of the lay of the land are the herdsmen or criminals associated with them because they crisscross these forests daily as they lead their herds about."

Ogunlela said Fears of abuse of the force have been the biggest hindrance to the creation of the local police hitherto.

He said "It is feared, particularly, that such a force can be used to acquire arms with which rebellion may be orchestrated against the lawful government. It is also feared that a sitting governor or even a Local Government chairman may use such a force to constrain the opposition, which translates to holding the people in bondage."

"Whatever these fears may be, the dimension and dynamics of crime in the society has proven to be much more telling and to justify the need for local policing. All the fears of the negative possibilities will be addressed as we go on, but first of all, let us have a bulwark against invading criminal forces, especially those led by organised, armed aliens. When we get to the bridge of other fears, we shall cross it!"

"But there are issues we must sort out if this new security set up will be of benefit to society and will not start off as a liability to social order. Where is the rule book? How are these men commanded. What are the dos and donts. How may they be reported in case of infractions? Where do their powers begin and end? Can they detain? Will they be checking the particulars of vehicles. If not, what can they do if they suspect, with reasonable grounds, that a vehicle is stolen? Under what circumstances can they open fire on their local (Dane) guns? How will they relate with existing security structures like the conventional police force?"

"To sum up, my opinion is that this local police force planned to take off on January 9 is a good idea. It could be wobbly at the beginning, but it will continue to be refined and it will keep getting better. We should only make sure we are united to see that they are nonpartisan and they are well educated to understand why they must extort the people", Ogunlela said