Following the resurgence of killings by suspected herdsmen in the South-West, commanders of Amotekun Corps have resolved to deploy their men to strategic borders with neigbouring states to protect residents of the region from further attacks.
They explained that this became necessary given the recurring attacks like the latest incident in Igangan, Oyo State, where suspected herdsmen massacred natives.
In separate interviews with Sunday Vanguard of June 27, the leaders of the corps across the South-West states, said defending the zone would be a lot easier if they had access to sophisticated weapons.
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They said the difficulty in preventing and quelling some attacks is a result of the superior firepower of the attackers.
Specifically, the commanders lamented that invading herders often wield high-caliber weapons, which give them an advantage over any attempt at overpowering them.
Recall that six days after the Chairman of Amotekun Corps in Oyo State, General Ajibola Togun ,retd, raised the alarm that some foreign herders were about to unleash terror on the six states in the South West, scores of gunmen attacked Igangan in Ibarapa North Local Government Area, killing about 20 people. The incident happened on June 6, 2021.
However, to forestall a recurrence, Amotekun leaders in the South-West told Sunday Vanguard they are “battle-ready.”
EKITI: Attackers can’t be confronted with Dane guns — Gen Komolafe
The Amotekun Corps Commander in Ekiti State, Brigadier-General Joe Komolafe,retd, said the outfit is on top of the security situation in the state.
He revealed that a lot would be achieved by the security network if they are allowed to bear arms by the federal government, adding that they cannot successfully secure the state with Dane guns as against AK-47 being used by herdsmen.
He said:” No doubt, we have done a lot since our inauguration in Ekiti State last October. Although there were pockets of crimes during the period under review, it must be said that we have cleared our forest from the criminals.
“ If you move around our major highways, you will see our men on patrol and we are arresting kidnappers in the forest and handing them over to the police for prosecution.
“Our personnel are ready to work but we need equipment and most importantly firearms. These will help us tackle and confront these criminals. We can’t do it with our bare hands. It is not possible because these people are always fully armed with sophisticated weapons.”
Komolafe, however, said the expectations of residents from the security outfit were high given security challenges in their localities, calling on them to provide timely information on strange movements and happenings in their domains.
According to him, the job of modern-day policing across the world has gone digital, there is a need for the operatives to be equipped with modern-day technology to prevent and reduce crimes.
Osun Amotekun Corps Commandant, Brigadier-General Bashir Adewinmbi , retd, said all states in the region are collaborating to ensure the Igangan killings never happens again in any state.
He added that they are constrained by the inability to carry weapons.
“We have been meeting and brainstorming on tactics and strategy to secure the region collectively and we have devised a means to do that and we are very aggressive about it. I am assuring you that once we launch our proactive tactics such a situation won’t happen again.
“Our major challenge is the inability to wield weapons. These criminal elements wield sophisticated weapons, which gives them an advantage during invasion or attack. Nonetheless, the chief security officers in states, I believe, have been working towards ensuring that our personnel also carry weapons legally.
“We have brainstormed and we have fashioned out how to rid the region of criminal activities and also criminal elements.”
Ondo State Amotekun Corps Commander, Chief Adetunji Adeleye said, “We need public enlightenment. Everybody should be vigilant. Members of the public should help the security outfits in the states.
“We need quality information from members of the public. That is how we would be able to do our part of the job and use our network to attack those I will refer to as our oppressors.
“As part of the strategy of Amotekun, we have farmers, hunters and traders that stay in the interiors. From them, we get first-hand information on happenings at the grassroots. We also have our intelligence men in plainclothes that give us valuable information on happenings across the state.
“We are battle-ready. I want to say that we are finding a lasting solution to the incessant friction between herdsmen and farmers in our state. Now, in Ondo, any farmer whose farms or crops are destroyed by cows or herders must be compensated. And this has greatly reduced the frequent clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the state.
“We are optimistic that no criminal element shall trouble the relative peace being enjoyed in the state.
“I make bold to say that we have improved the security situation of the state from what it was in the last few months, especially in the area of incessant quarrels between farmers and herdsmen, kidnappings and armed robberies. I think the situation is a lot better.”
Adeleye said the security outfit is gradually overcoming the shortage of manpower.
According to him, over 500 personnel were recruited recently while the state government donated about 20 vehicles for the operation of the Amotekun Corps.
“We want to be better equipped. The state government is stretching itself to sustain us. We give kudos to them but we still want more.
“And to the federal government, we want them to empower us to be able to face the security challenges by providing the same kind of sophisticated weapons that are allowed for other security agencies.”
Adeleye, however, appealed to governors in the region to work towards ensuring that Amotekun Corps personnel are armed.
“In Ondo State, we have appealed to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and he is aware of our constraints. He is trying to solve the problem.’’
On his part, Commander of Amotekun in Ogun State, Mr. David Akinremi, said,
“Since the Amotekun was inaugurated in Ogun State in April, herdsmen attacks on villagers and farmers in the state, especially, in the Yewa area of the state have reduced to the barest minimum.
“With the recent attack in Igangan, all Commanders of Amotekun Corps in the South West had a meeting and we resolved to work-hand-in-hand to prevent recurrence of the ugly incident.
“For us in Ogun State, proactiveness is our watchword because our operatives are on the ground to check the influx of the herdsmen and other criminals in any part of the state.
All Amotekun units in the zone are working together to curb criminality. I just came back from a meeting with other Commanders of Amotekun in the zone, and part of our resolution is to ensure that our borders are properly secured with Amotekun personnel so that each time we have an issue in any state, we will be able to handle it.
“For us in Ogun State, Governor Dapo Abiodun has approved the training of more personnel to cover additional seven local government areas and by the time we cover seven additional areas, we would have covered three quarter of the entire state.
“As we all know, security is everybody’s business and we must all join hands to ensure a safe environment. I want to appeal to our people to see Amotekun as their own. They should collaborate with us.
“We must be able to provide security for our people and that is what everybody is committed to. The state is committed, the governor is committed and we are committed to ensuring that our people sleep with their two eyes closed. We appeal to our people to give us credible information so that we can do it together.”