There are strong indications the South-West states will train vigilantes, hunters and members of the Oodua Peoples Congress who will take part in the Western Nigeria Security Outfit codenamed Operation Amotekun (leopard), which will be launched on Thursday.
The training would enhance the relationship between the groups and security agencies that would be directly involved in the operation. According to reports, although members of the Yoruba groups, including the OPC, hunters and vigilantes, would not join the patrols by security agencies, they had been slated for intelligence gathering. It was said that members of the groups would be trained in how to better relate with the police and soldiers.
The Special Adviser to the Ekiti State Governor on Security, Brigadier General Ebenezer Ogundana (retd.), who confirmed this in an interview with one of our correspondents on Monday, said the equipment to be deployed in Operation Amotekun would be upgraded from time to time after the inauguration of the outfit on Thursday.
The South-West governors had, at a security summit organised by the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria, said they would set up the operation, following serial killings and kidnapping in the zone by Fulani herdsmen. Gunmen, suspected to be herdsmen, had in June killed Funke Olakunri, a daughter of the Afenifere leader, Reuben Fasoranti, on the Ondo-Ore road.
In May, a lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Prof Olayinka Adegbehingbe, was abducted at the Ikoyi/Apomu junction of the Ibadan-Ife Expressway in Ikire, a border town between Osun and Oyo states.
In his New Year message, the Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, said the security outfit would begin operation on Thursday. Giving more explanations on Operation Amotekun, Ogundana said vigilantes, the OPC members and local hunters billed for the operation in terms of gathering information, would be drawn from their communities.
He stated, “It is just a few groups that are mischievous that are just spreading rumours. As we speak now, the OPC, vigilantes and hunters work with police. They work with the army. There is no operation that we go that we don’t have them. So it is still the same setting.
“For Amotekun, when we get there, we are still going to organise training in how they can relate more with the police, the army and with one another as well as how the police and army too can accept the fact that the groups have access to information and move with them to use the information well. The vigilantes, OPC members and hunters know the terrain very well. The army and the police are from different places and may not know the terrain as much as the local groups. We have not been going to the press with the activities of these groups. But because of the exigencies, we now say let us legitimise the activities of the OPC, vigilantes, hunters and other groups so that we now manage them.”
Ogundana, who said technologies including drones would be deployed, said, “We cannot get all the equipment one day, but let us launch this operation, by the time we launch it, all other things will be built into the capacity of Amotekun, depending on what the capacity of the state(s) can carry.
The security adviser said Amotekun in Ekiti State would work with the state anti-kidnapping team on the use of the team’s drones. He stated, “But Amotekun will acquire its own as we go further. We cannot get all the equipment one day; when we take off, we begin to look at what next. We will explore the electronics medium of the operation – using drones to get information, using drones to do some geo-mapping of the entire state,” he said.
On his part, the Chief Press Secretary to Osun State Governor, Ismail Omipidan, said the state would engage those he called locals to gather intelligence for the security men that would work under Operation Amotekun.