Commanders of South-West Security Network otherwise known as Amotekun have cried out over lack of sophisticated weapons to match high caliber guns wielded by kidnappers terrorising different parts of the region.
This is just as the Ekiti and Ondo state governments said they had applied for gun licence to enable Amotekun officials to carry rifles instead of locally-made guns and were awaiting approval from the Federal Government.
The security outfit was established in January 2020 to tackle the rising kidnappings, killings and other criminal acts across the six states that make up the region.
But the Commander, Ekiti Amotekun Corps, Brig. Gen Joe Komolafe (retd,), lamented that his men were constrained to rely on locally-made guns to fight well-armed robbers and kidnappers.
He said, “We need automatic weapons because the people we are combatting have automatic weapons. The only problem we still have is the Federal Government’s obnoxious law that says we cannot carry such weapons. We are appealing that the Federal Government should do it the way it was done for the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and let us carry automatic weapons. That will make us more effective. All the dane guns we use now cannot be as effective as AK-47.”
Komolafe however said the operatives were collaborating with other security agencies to beef up security during the festive period and urged people to be security conscious.
Also, the Ogun State Amotekun Commander, David Akinremi, described the weapons used by criminals as superior to those carried by Amotekun members who are supposed to confront them.
He said, “We rely on our local arms. That we need sophisticated arms is not in doubt. We call on the authorities that adequate law is put in place to make us carry arms to confront criminals. However, we have deployed our men since the beginning of this month. Massive intelligence has also begun in connection with other security agencies to ensure a hitch-free Yuletide period.”
His counterpart in Osun, Amitolu Shittu, equally said operatives had been deployed in all the nine federal constituencies in the state but bemoaned poor weapons used by the officials to fight criminals.
“We use only sticks presently and we are confronting hardened criminals. We need guns. If we can be allowed to carry guns, it would enable us to respond better to security breaches. We are expected to confront hardened criminals,” Shittu added.
Similarly, the Amotekun Commander in Ondo State, Adetunji Adeleye, said some governors in the region had written to the Federal Government, seeking approval for the corps officials to bear rifles but their request had not been granted.
He said, “The guns that my men are carrying are single-barrelled ones and they are all licensed. What we are talking about is automatic weapons like AK-47. Our governors have written on it, made their presentations but the request was not granted. We were not granted the licence but the criminals we are confronting are carrying AK-47 rifles about with impunity.”
The Director General of Amotekun Corps in Oyo State, Col. Olayinka Olayanju (retd.), lamented that some of him men had been killed because they carried local guns to attack criminals bearing AK-47, adding that the officials should be allowed to bear sophisticated weapons to effectively tackle assailants.
Ondo, Ekiti await approval
Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, on Security Matters, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo, said the state government applied for the licence to enable Amotekun operatives to carry sophisticated firearms immediately after the inauguration of the security outfit in August 2020.
He said, “The Ondo State Government is putting in its best. Governor Rotimi Akeredolu is making rigorous efforts on the issue of security. He has applied for the licence. He has direct access to the President and some other people. That is why we are calling for the support of the people. The governor has applied for the licence since the inauguration of Amotekun.
“On the issue of arms bearing on Amotekun and some other auxiliary security outfits, there is a law establishing Amotekun, limiting it to the calibre of arms they could bear. That is what they are doing presently and with the help of God, we are achieving a lot of results. But we are still saying that if some criminals could be carrying prohibited firearms and nothing is done about it, then the organisations that are for genuine a cause should be allowed to carry arms since there is a law regulating their activities. With the way things are going in this country, security-wise, there is no alternative to state police.”
Similarly, the Special Adviser to the Ekiti State Governor on Security, Brig. Gen. Ebenezer Ogundana (retd.), said the state government had applied for licence so that Amotekun operatives in the state would be able to bear weapons, adding that that the process of getting approval from the Federal Government was ongoing.
Ogundana said, “We have applied for the Amotekun corps to be able to carry weapons to protect themselves, but it has not been approved. The process is ongoing.”
The Ogun State Government, however, said it had yet to apply for gun licence for the Amotekun corps in the state but promised to do so soon.
The Special Adviser to the governor on Security, Olushola Zubair, said, “It is certain that the government will apply for arms for its Amotekun corps to ensure security of lives and property in the state. I cannot give you a definite answer now but Amotekun is a security outfit and you know normally we expect themSo there is nothing too unusual about applying for them to be using guns but I can’t give you a definite answer on whether Ogun State has applied or not but eventually it will still happen.” to carry guns.
So there is nothing too unusual about applying for them to be using guns but I can’t give you a definite answer on whether Ogun State has applied or not but eventually it will still happen.”
Police not aware of any application – FPRO
When contacted by one of our correspondents, the Force Public Relations Officer, CP Frank Mba, said he was not aware of any application seeking approval for the Amotekun corps to use rifles.
When asked whether the police were willing to grant the corps the licence to bear sophisticated firearms, Mba said, “I don’t answer speculative questions. I have not seen an application. I am not aware.”
He added, “The general rule is each application has to be dealt with on its merit. So, I will not answer any speculative questions. The direct answer is the fact that I have not seen, I am not aware of such an application.”
Oyo demands constitutional review
Meanwhile, Taiwo Adisa, the Chief Press Secretary to the Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, said the South-West governors demanded amendment to the constitution to allow each state run its security the best way it could.
He said, “As you can see, South-West governors have exploited their constitutional rights to advocate what is right, what is good for the security of us all. The ball is now in the court of the Federal Government to instigate necessary constitutional amendments that will guarantee the desired federalism in the running of the security sector in Nigeria.
“It is not whether the governors have made an application (for gun licence) to the Federal Government. Everyone knows someone at the federal level can always hide behind the existing constitutional provisions to preserve the status quo.
“What the South-West is demanding is the institution of true federalism in a way that will guarantee the operation of state police, such that agencies like Amotekun can operate bearing the required arms that will ensure they protect our people. And I think that should not be difficult to support by well-meaning citizens of this country.”
We won’t reveal security strategies, says Osun
Asked if the state would apply for firearms for the Amotekun operatives, the Osun State Commissioner for Information, Funke Egbemode, said strategies of the state in combating criminals would not be discussed in the open.
She said, “For us in Osun, security is not a public matter. We will not discuss our strategies or arsenal in the open. We need to continue to keep our people safe.
“And we will not let the criminals know what our tactics will be. The governor is determined to keep the people safe and we will do everything to keep Osun safe.”
Afenifere backs gun licence, experts advise govs
The General Secretary of a Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Sola Ebiseni, said it was in the interest of the Federal Government to encourage Amotekun by allowing it to bear sophisticated arms.
He said, “Relying on the fraudulent 1999 Constitution and its placement of arms, ammunition and explosives on the exclusive legislative list to render Amotekun impotent is a cowardly political response by a government that lacks initiative in every aspect of the people’s life.”
A security analyst, Hassan Stan-Labo, said there was a need to amend the constitution to enable Amotekun officials to carry high-calibre firearms and urged the governors in the South-West to rally support from members of the National Assembly.
Another security expert, Jackson Lekan-Ojo, said, “Amotekun is a state security outfit. It is not the issue of the Federal Government. But when you look at Nigeria very well, the issue of security is purely handled by the Federal Government. Amotekun emanated from the state laws, if they (officials) must bear firearms it must be approved by the Federal Government.”
“If FG wants to approve their application, what law would be the basis for it? What section of the constitution gives them the right to do so? Let the governors walk towards constitutional amendment.”