There was low turn out at the solidarity rally organised by members of the civil society organisations in support of the establishment of Operation Amotekun in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital on Tuesday.
The establishment of Operation Amotekun, a security outfit by the SouthWest States of Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Lagos and Ekiti has been generating controversies across the country.
The rally was organised in response to the declaration of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federal (AGF), Abubakar Malami that Amotekun was illegal.
Men of the State Police Command, led by the State Commissioner, Kenneth Ebrimson as well as other security agents like the Department of State Security Service (DSS) and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were fully on ground in their large numbers to maintain law and order at the rally.
The rally, held at the Open ground, Panseke, Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital was attended by members of the Committee for Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Yoruba World Congress (YWC), Yoruba Council of Youths Worldwide (YCYW) and the National Association Nigerian Students (NANS), among others.
The participants arrived the venue of the rally as early as 8am but the rally did not start until 11am.
Some of the participants were carrying placards bearing inscriptions such as: “No Amotekun, No Hisbah!”, “Scrap Amotekun, scrap Nigeria”, “Every Yoruba is Amotekun” and “Amotekun is here, end has come to our suffering”.
Addressing the participants, the Coordinator of the rally, Jimoh Olawale Taofeek, said, the rally was organised stressed the need for Amotekun, insisting that Amotekun was not to victimise any individual but to protect lives and property while complementing the efforts of security agencies.
Giving the reason for the low turn out, Jimoh said they were informed by security agents that some hoodlums were planning to hijacked the rally.
According to him, Amotekun is not to destabilise or target any tribe but to secure the lives and property of the people in a manner that would bring peace of mind to the people.
Jimoh explained that Amotekun is not only meant for Yoruba people alone but also all residents of the South West.
He added that if the Federal government could allow other States to have security apparatus other than the police, why not the SouthWest.
His words, “We are here to reach out to the larger public. We want to tell the Federal government and the entire Nigerian populace that we want Amotekun in Southwest. If Hisbah can be in the Northern States, if there can be Azaru, there can be Civilian JTF, if there can be Vigilance groups, some of them even carry arms, arresting even legitimate police officers and been prosecuted so there is no reason why we should not consider Amotekun in SouthWest.
“Besides, I want make it very clear that Amotekun is not to witch hunt anybody whatsoever. I think one of the major responsibilities of the government is to protect the masses, the safety of lives and properties is the major responsibility of the government. And I see no reason why anybody, quote and unquote should say no to Amotekun.”
“It is should be other way round, where the Federal government should give kudos to our Governors for complementing security efforts with Amotekun.
Speaking on behalf of the NANS, Sowumi Emmanuel who appealed to the National Assembly to pass a law to give legal backing to Amotekun.
Emmanuel said all those that are not in support of Amotekun are doing it for their own selfish interest or “have hidden agendas”.
His words, “Those not in support of Amotekun are against the peace of Nigeria, are against the security of the South West Region and are against our safety as citizens of the country”
Speaking to journalists at the rally, the Commissioner of Police, Ebrimson, insisted that the Command had no prior knowledge of the rally, saying “The police was never informed of any protest or rally.”
But speaking to journalists at the rally, the Commissioner of Police, Ebrimson, insisted that the Command had no prior knowledge of the rally, saying “The Police was never informed of any protest or rally.”
Ebrimson said, “I am on routine visit, everyday, I go round the metro to ensure that everywhere is calm but I got intelligence reports that some groups, yet to be identified are trying to protest or do rally and I just came around to talk to my men and place them to ensure that there is no breach of peace.”
“Nobody told me, nobody wrote to me of any protest, my own duty is to ensure that I come out to ensure that there is no breach of peace, that law abiding citizens go about their business unhindered.”
“We are here to ensure that nobody harasses, intimidate or cause a breach of peace and go on wanton destruction of properties, that we will not tolerate.”
“I have seen my police men they are well placed, they have started strategically and I have no problem with them, they are basically here to checkmate any one who wants to take laws into their hands and the law will descend on that person ruthlessly.”