• Governors await Buhari’s response, reach out to IGP, DG DSS
• AGF got clearance from President, says source
• FG may ask governors to scale down security network
FEARS that separatist and ethnic groups might take advantage of the introduction of the Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Operation Amotekun to undermine national security were largely responsible for the declaration of the initiative as illegal by the federal government,The Nation can now confirm.
Some members of the kitchen cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari and security chiefs are also opposed to Operation Amotekun, because of what a source termed regional tone given to it by the SouthWest governors.
Attorney General of the Federal Abubakar Malami (SAN) branded the initiative illegal last week soon after it was launched in Ibadan.
The Minister claimed it runs contrary to the provisions of the Nigerian law.
However,The Nation gathered that some key players in the presidency interpreted the coming of Operation Amotekun as part of the ploy to introduce regional politics through the backdoor.
The President’s strategists rate the operation as a violation of Sections 2, 17 and 45 of the Second Schedule to the 1999 Constitution.
The strategists have joined issues with the governors for not consulting President Muhammadu Buhari before the launch.
It was learnt that some security chiefs feared that some ethnic and separatist organizations like the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) might take advantage of Operation Amotekun to threaten national security.
Besides, the assumption that Amotekun Militia might bear arms did not sit well with some forces in the presidency prompting Malami to issue the statement on the ‘illegality’ of the initiative.
Malami was said to have got clearance from the presidency before issuing the statement
On their part,the South-West governors have reached out to Police Inspector-General Adamu Mohammed and the Director-General of the Department of State Security Services (DSS), Mallam Yusuf Magaji Bichi to clarify a few misgivings.
They told the IGP and the DSS DG that Operation Amotekun is not different from a neighbourhood watch security organization.
Investigation showed that the governors notified the President about the launch of Operation Amotekun through the “appropriate quarters.”
They went ahead with the launch when there were no words from the President against it or raising security issues.
Despite the misgivings on Operation Amotekun, the governors are awaiting Buhari’s invitation to present the true picture of situation to him instead of relying on some false reports.
A reliable source, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said: “The launch of Operation Amotekun caught the President and his strategists unawares because the President was not personally briefed by the South-West governors.
“The governors actually routed their plans to the President through the appropriate quarters of communication but there was a gap somewhere. The President’s men are angry because the whole process was untidy.
“And those who had preliminary talks with the governors on the launch did not brief the President properly.
“The governors are awaiting an invitation from the President to present the concept of Operation Amotekun, the scope and modalities to him.”
Findings by our correspondent revealed five grouses of the President’s men and security chiefs namely:
- No provision for regional security arrangement in the 1999 Constitution or any law
- Alleged backdoor approach to reintroduce regional autonomy/ government structure
- Defence, Police and Security architecture on the Exclusive List in sections 2, 17 and 45 of the Second Schedule to the 1999 Constitution
- Amotekun Militia may bear arms and become parallel security organizations
- Operational procedures yet to be defined and harmonized with the Police and other security agencies before the launch of Operation Amotekun
Another source said: “The President’s strategists and security chiefs were uncomfortable with the regional tone given to the launch of Operation Amotekun which may force other regions to follow suit, especially the backers of IPOB and MASSOB.
“Since 1967, when 12 states were created, the nation’s regional structure has been dismantled. Those in government and security chiefs see politics behind Operation Amotekun than security concerns.
“The governors are aware that there are 67 items on the Exclusive Legislative List and they should have pushed for constitutional amendment to move Policing to the Concurrent Legislative List or for the recognition of Neighbourhood Watch.
“There is also no guarantee that Amotekun Militia will not bear arms. Proliferation of arms by extra-constitutional outfits is worrisome to security chiefs.
“The security chiefs had expressed reservations on the launch of Amotekun without Operational Procedures and with Insignia which suggested it is a parallel security agency.
“All these factors made the AGF Malami to declare Operation Amotekun illegal.”
One of the South-West governors, who briefed our correspondent in confidence, said: “There are many misrepresentations about Operation Amotekun which is purely a neighbourhood watch to complement the Nigeria Police and other security agencies. Amotekun was a response to the yearnings of our people, it is purely an intelligence outfit or back up for the police and other agencies.
“We have sent one of us to the IGP and the DG of DSS where it was clarified that Amotekun Militia will not bear arms. They have police and DSS operatives guarding us, they can ask them to spy on us (which they have been doing) on whether or not we are providing arms for Amotekun Militia.
“No one is importing arms; no one is arming militia and Amotekun is not designed to undermine the Police and other agencies. It is not a return to regionalism in any manner whatsoever.
Responding to a question, the source added: “We actually followed the normal communication channel in relating with the Presidency before we launched Operation Amotekun. We could not have slighted the President.
“Before the launch, we had audience with the Police and some security agencies. We were expecting the IGP at the launch until we did not see him at the last minutes.
“We see all the noise against Operation Amotekun as a storm in a tea cup. We hope to meet the President soon and clarify the grey areas.”