Governors of Southwest, Inspector General of Police (IG), Mr Mohammed Adamu and state police commissioners in the region, yesterday met behind closed doors in Lagos to forge a consensus on the regional security outfit, Amotekun, being promoted by the six states in the geopolitical zone.
The meeting, which held at Lagos House, Ikeja, followed plans by the governors to domesticate operations of the Southwest security initiative, code-named ‘Operation Amotekun’, in their various states.
At the end of the meeting, the police rallied behind the governors to ensure the take-off of Amotekun.
The governors’ meeting with the police top chiefs, hosted by Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was attended by Chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, heads of other security outfits in the six South-west states, attorneys-general and commissioners for justice, traditional rulers and community development committee representatives.
Governors of Oyo, Ogun, Osun and Ekiti states were represented at the closed-door meeting by their deputies – Rauf Olaniyan, Noimot Oyedele, Benedict Alabi and Bisi Egbeyemi – respectively.
Akeredolu told reporters after the meeting that it was time to deploy community policing because of the peculiarity of every state as it was done in advanced countries.
According to him, there is need to embrace community policing because of numerous security challenges, which have overstretched the conventional police.
”This is something of great importance to all of us; something we cannot pretend about. We must be honest with ourselves; all of us agree that we are facing security challenges. The National Assembly, the president, nobody is happy with the way things are going.
”We must have a rethink about central police; there is too much on the IG’s table,” Akeredolu said.
The IG, on his part, said community policing had to come from the public and not just from the police.
Adamu commended the Lagos State Government for the structure put in place in policing the residents and urged other states in the region to emulate Lagos.
”We don’t want everything to be taken to the police to handle, there are issues the Oba in the community can handle,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu said he was happy that the conversation around community policing started from Lagos and the South-west.
”We are indeed happy that the IG deemed it fit that all of the conversation around community policing need to start in Lagos and in South-West.
”We assure the entire Nigerian police formation that the Lagos State Government will continue to give cooperation that is needed to ensure that the entire police force discharge their responsibility and their duties very well,” Sanwo-Olu stated.
However, a statement later issued by Chief Press Secretary to Sanwo-Olu, Mr Gboyega Akosile, said the governors and the IG ratified the decision to set up Amotekun.
The statement added that the IG substantiated Akeredolu’s claim, saying the participants at the meeting had fine-tuned Operation Amotekun and adopted it to be state-led initiative and not regional.
The statement quoted the IG as saying that: “This is the second meeting we have held with the governors of the South-west region concerning the creation of Operation Amotekun. The just-concluded meeting was to discuss and fine-tune Amotekun. Our conclusion is what the chairman of South-west Governors’ Forum has explained.
“Amotekun is not a regional security outfit. Every state has one form of security arrangement, whether it is vigilante or neighbourhood watch that are working security agencies in the states to fight crime. Amotekun is not different from these initiatives. We have agreed that community policing strategy be infused into the Amotekun structure, so that policing will be the initiative of the community members.”
Adamu said the police would be part of the recruitment, training and deployment of personnel to be assigned for Amotekun operations, adding that the initiative would complement the community policing model.
The IG stated that policing must start with the public and urged people to unite and form an alliance against criminals in their communities.
He said the police would support the residents’ efforts to keep their communities safe, but added any decision to be taken must come from the public.
The IG praised Lagos Government for adopting a community-led policing arrangement, saying Lagos remained an example where “a good structure” of community policing had been effective.