In the last two weeks, Amotekun has become a popular subject almost every Nigerian can say something about due to the many controversies surrounding it.
On Thursday, January 9, 2020, the governments of Oyo, Osun, Lagos, Ondo, Ekiti and Ogun converged in Ibadan to launch the South-West Security Network better known as Operation Amotekun.
Few days after the launch, the purpose of the security outfit drowned amid controversies, as Amotekun, which was originally a regional intervention to the many security challenges controversially became a conundrum the federal government needs to solve.
These are five controversies that have trailed the regional security outfit.
1. The governors’ perceived body language
Prior to the formal launch of this security initiative in Ibadan, there were insinuations that not all of the six governors were in support of the idea. These claims were given more credence when the security outfit was finally launched.
Amotekun is believed to be the conception of Ogun, Oyo, Ekiti, Ondo, Lagos and Osun state governments. Considering the importance and purpose of the outfit, it was expected that all the governors would be in Ibadan for its inauguration, but that was not the case.
Out of the six governors, only three were present for the inauguration. Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos, Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun and Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State did not show up. While Abiodun and Oyetola were represented by their deputies, no representative was sent by the Lagos state government to the inauguration ceremony.
2. Legality issue
The major controversy that unsettled the security initiative blew in from the Federal Capital Territory. Almost immediately after the governors launched the security outfit, the Federal Government through the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami declared it illegal.
The FG also ordered the police to arrest Amotekun operatives because their operation is deemed illegal. The Federal Government’s position has changed the whole narrative about Amotekun. At the moment, the legality of the outfit is at the front burner of discussions, while the purpose for which the security outfit was established seems to have been relegated.
3. Alleged Christianisation of Amotekun
Nigeria is a country where religious biases always infiltrate every matter of national interest. Amotekun has also suffered the same fate.
A week after the security outfit was launched, the Director of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Prof. Ishaq Akintola accused the south-west governors — five of whom are Christians — of turning Amotekun into a “crusader militia”.
One of the reasons Akintola gave is that the ongoing recruitment into the security outfit has mandated applicants to submit birth certificates registered only in churches.
4. Alleged recruitment of political thugs
Like MURIC, a faction of Odua People Congress (OPC) has also accused south-west governors of recruiting political thugs for Amotekun.
In a statement on Wednesday, January 8, 2020, Prince Osibote, the President of OPC worldwide said, “What the South-west governors are doing now is far from the Operation Amotekun that we suggested. They are recruiting their political thugs and people of questionable character, largely from the pool of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).
5. Tinubu’s 'disturbing' silence
Since Amotekun became a controversial subject that attracts headlines in national dailies, the national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has remained tight-lipped on the matter.
Tinubu’s deafening silence on Amotekun is in itself a controversial stance as Yoruba leaders and groups have been prodding him to say his mind about Operation Amotekun and the Federal Government’s position on the outfit.