Federal government and governors from South-west yesterday found a political solution to the growing rift over the regional security outfit, Amotekun.
They both agreed to develop a legal framework for the outfit, whose launch has pitted the people of the region against the federal government, especially in the wake of the declaration by Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, that it is illegal.
They also agreed that the regional security network would have to be aligned with the federal government’s community policing policy.
Malami had insisted earlier yesterday that any security arrangement not supported by law remained illegal.
But speakers of Houses of Assembly in the geo-political zone rallied behind the Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN), code named Amotekun, pledging to give it legislative approval.
Rising from a two-hour meeting, presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the State House, Abuja, Chairman of South-west Governors’ Forum and Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, said they had a fruitful discussion and agreed on the way forward.
According to him, nobody ever attempted to stop Amotekun and described it as a form of community policing.
He dismissed insinuations that discussions were not held with Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, before the launch.
Akeredolu said he had earlier stated that political solution would eventually be found to the controversy generated by the advent of Amotekun, adding that what happened yesterday was a fulfillment of the declaration.
“Well, we had a fruitful discussion. Governors of South-west as you know, we were all there. The meeting was presided over by the vice president. The Attorney-General of the Federation was there as well as Inspector General of Police.
“So, we have rubbed minds (sic) and all of us have agreed on the way forward. The most important one is that we are going to have a legal framework to back this Amotekun. And this legal framework is going to be one which we are going to look at and will be sure to go without any hindrance,” he said.
Asked if the agreement meant that Amotekun would not function for now, Akeredolu said: “No. What I believe is our resolution is that Amotekun is there. You know the federal government is starting community policing. In essence really, it is about community. So, we are going to work together to see the community policing and Amotekun work.”
On whether lack of consultations fuelled the controversy, which trailed the launch of Amotekun, he said: “No. No. No. There were consultations. Don’t say there were no consultations. There were consultations because we held discussions with the IG then and what has developed is what has led to this; not that there were no consultations.
“We just felt that with all this noise outside, it is better for us to sit down. Remember that immediately the noise started, I said that we are going to explore political solution and all of us are here. My colleague, the deputy governor of Oyo, who is of the PDP, all of us are here. So, we have looked at this solution to it now; both political and legal solutions to it and all of us will do it.”
He disagreed with the perception that the federal government wanted to stop Amotekun.
“No, the government is not trying to stop it. Attorney-General has spoken on that. I’m sure you have all read the statement that he was misinterpreted. So, it’s so clear. There was no time that government wanted to stop Amotekun and the AGF having spoken, it’s all about us. So, there is no problem,” he said.
The launch of Amotekun had generated controversy across the country following reports that the AGF had declared the outfit illegal.
The declaration provoked anger in the people of the South-west, who staged peaceful protests across the zone in support of Amotekun on Tuesday, reiterating that there is no going back on the security network.
Osinbajo was believed to have been assigned by the federal government to reach an accord with the governors on the way forward for the network.
Yesterday’s meeting was attended by three South-west governors and three deputy governors.
Present at the meeting were Governors Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo) and Gboyega Oyetola (Osun) while their counterparts in Lagos, Oyo and Ogun were represented by their deputies.
A statement issued last night by Osinbajo’s spokesman, Mr Laolu Akande, said his principal met with the South-west governors, the AGF and the IG, at the instance of the governors whom he said had requested to see President Muhammadu Buhari over the controversy surrounding Amotekun.
Akande said following the president’s non-availability, he asked his deputy to preside over the meeting.
He said: “The meeting was fruitful and unanimous resolutions were made on the way forward. Having regard to the need for all hands to be on deck in addressing the security concerns across the country, it was agreed that the structure of Amotekun should also align with the community policing strategy of the federal government.
“It was also agreed that necessary legal instruments will be put in place by each of the states to give legal backing to the initiative and address all issues concerning the regulation of the security structure.”