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Amotekun: Why Yoruba People Need this now

A popular Yoruba song often sang by kids goes thus, “Ekun meran o! Mee! Otoribo igbo mee!!, O torun bo ogba mee!! O fe mu ooo, ko ma le mu, O ju ekun un pon, iru ekun n le”. The subtle meaning of this, in simple English is this – “Hey tiger/leopard come, come and pick up your prey. And it tries to enter the bush, tries as well to enter the garden through the fence, just to pick up that animal, but couldn’t. With eyes like a smoking fire, and a tail is equally whirling stronger”.  Who still remembers this song?

Well, that childhood song is like a perfect meaning to the socio-political interference and institutional resistance, gaining wild like an inferno in Nigeria, where some people have decided to be “ekun or amotekun” as the case may be – by entering bush or the jungle with the aim of catching the beastly animals, but somehow are being stopped by the fencing in what appears to be more political.

Yoruba Amotekun Security Watch

Today, I don’t think anyone needs to read a very long research findings to see the place of a serious and dying need, for security overhauling in Nigeria as a country which is revealing it’s ugly hydra-headed posture everyday and keep posing making our crime profile on the high side. And in this, Yoruba people of Western Nigeria have had the unfair share of the increasing ugly trend.

The very first sign that things are getting worst security wise, came with keen observation. As Yoruba will say, Bójú ba fara balè daadaa, a rímú” – If the eyes can carefully watch closely, one’s personal nose can be seen clearly. 

Personally, I recently observed that it is now becoming a norm for people to first ask you how secured is a certain place, before anything else, which is unlike before. Many are now more security conscious, scared and worried about the security of lives and properties before taking any investment decision that shouldn’t have posed any serious disturbance ordinarily. You want to build a house in your village or set up businesses like farms, tourist site – what becomes the first challenge is Security.  Not even the bad roads or poor infrastructures any longer.

Recently, I heard that a renowned Prof of Linguistic – Prof. Oladele Awobuluyi, from Oke Agbe town in Ondo state, once disclosed to a friend, and a sister, that unlike never, his heart now beats fearfully, every time he wishes to travel home, because of increasing rate of kidnapping.

Similarly, I also watched a video interview of Prof. Wole Soyinka by BBC Yoruba recently, where Baba Prof. lamented, on how tiring it is for him, in preventing cattle herds, from eating off everything he had grown until he had to write on a big signpost, that any cow that enters his yard will be killed and had to inform all security authorities. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. As we can see, Security is everything. If these dons are becoming frustrated about the challenge, how about the helpless nobody as commoners?

Going but all these, it is wise to agree that there is no better time to raise an alarm to find a lasting solution to this menace than now. Hence, the way outs being fashioned and as being proposed by concerned minds, deserve every one’s support, if we hope to one day go to bed with all eyes closed. Security is like everything that affects anything. We should be take it with all seriousness that it requires and shun political undertones or colourations.

Why do we need to see beyond politics or tribal sentiments?

It is because it is that great potent thing, that can destroy every other things we have built.  And because development only takes place in an atmosphere of peace and stability. This fight must collectively be fought because “Àbò ara eni, l’àbò Ìlú” – one’s personal safety translates to the general safety of lives and properties of the whole town or society” as the case may be.

What this means simply is that, once an individual security is no longer guaranteed, the society is endangered as a whole. And that’s the case in Nigeria today.  There is actually no one that is safe today, including the president, let alone of you and I. 

Insecurity challenge sits chiefly as one of the three most worrisome woes bedeviling us a nation today, the other for me, being leadership crisis and corruption across boards. 

In just a decade, we lost everything. The up north is war torn, kidnapping and attacks causing unrest is now a big source of worry down south, which in turn is crippling everything, as fear rents the air.  And one most disturbing part is the fact that it now appears like our huge security outfits have lost grip of arresting the situation. Today, We now resort to going on social media to cry for help for any serious break down of law and order in communities, and at the local level.

Fraudsters scam and live happily after, because when you go to police stations, the police officer at the counter will start calling you “mumu” and will tell you 1001 reasons why he or she is helpless.

Between 1999 to 2019, over dozens of high profile political assassinations were recorded in Western Nigeria. Notably was the gruesome killing of a Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Late Chief Bola Ige in his house at Ibadan.  More than 17yrs now, the real killers are still not known.

An Honorable at Osun State house of Assembly representing my town Ile-Ife, Late Hon. Misty Odunayo Olagbaju – a young vibrant lawyer with a beautiful future ahead of him, was murdered weeks after Ige’s Assassination in what appears like a political counter attack. He was macheted to death, right there in front a police station.  He actually ran there for safety but the police officers being paid to secure the citizens were themselves, visibly helpless. The man died cheaply. Till today, nothing ever was heard of the aftermath. The killers are still lurking around in this country.

What about the other brilliant governorship aspirants in Lagos – Engr. Funsho Williams, Dipo Dina in Ogun and Dr. Ayo Daramola of Ijan Ekiti? These guys only sin was their singular choice of being interested in becoming governors in their respective states? Who are those killing all these people under democracy, if we all agreed that the likes of Kudirat Abiola, Alfred Rewane, Dele Giwa were killed by military mighty forces? And political killings on the other hand hasn’t ceased yet. In 2015 election year alone, not less than 10 Politicians were assassinated in Nigeria.

Why did I go down to this history? It is to reveal to us on how porous our security outfit had been over the last 20yrs. And shockingly or should I say not surprising, that not even one of killers of these men of high profiles have ever been arrested, charged or convicted for being the true killers. The final answer has always been that God knows (sees) what man knows (sees) not. Ojú Olohun to ohun tójú eniyan o to. Lol

Then the question is for how long are we to continue to live like this?

I’m sure these statesmen must shaking heads in their graves with the realism that nothing serious had been done to fight unjust Killings in our society and the next victim can be their children or loved ones. Isn’t it obvious that insecurity is far growing wings? Albeit, it is far worst now.

At the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, my home zone today – I can name more than 5 professors that have been under the net or were victims of kidnapping.  Read about his missing news here

In 2013, a Professor of Nuclear Physics, Prof. James Olomo, at OAU, Ile‑Ife went missing on October 19, after he travelled to Eket in Akwa Ibom State on the invitation of Mobil Oil Unlimited. Till today, nothing was heard of him, dead or alive.

In 2015, Prof. Femi Omisore of OAU Urban & Regional Planning Dept, was kidnapped on a fateful Saturday morning, on his way to Oye Ekiti, for a funeral ceremony. His driver was killed by the abductors while the hoodlums shot at the fuel tank of the car until the car went up in flames.

A version of the release of the kidnappers said the Vigilance group in Esure Ekiti rescued the victims while the police, through their Force Public Relations Officer then in Ekiti, Emmanuel Ojukwu, claimed to have rescued the victims while an unspecified number of the kidnappers were arrested. But the truth according to family, was that heavy ransom was paid.

In July of the same 2015, Obafemi Awolowo University community was thrown into mourning following the killing of another young lecturer in the department of Agricultural Economics of the institution, Dr. Deji Adejobi. He was killed and his remains thrown into his House’ flower by suspected assassins at his residence located at The-Dawn area, near the Ife toll gate in Ile-Ife, Osun State.

In 2018, Prof Yinka Adegbehingbe an Orthopedist was kidnapped around Ikire-Ikoyi-Apomu township, on Ife/Ibadan Expressway. The Prof alongside his wife, were travelling from Lagos to Ife when the armed men, stopped their vehicle and abducted him. After his release, he narrated his ordeal on TV on the identity of his abductors, the Fulani guys unmistakeably.

Weeks ago around Late 2019, another shinning light in the Medical world, Prof. J. B. E Elusiyan was killed abruptly by gunmen on his way from Edo State where he had gone to supervise Medical Examination of some students.. In their protest, the NMA members worried on why a Prof of medicine will just be killed like that, with no reported case of where the havoc must have come from, and just like every other one in the past, no traces. What messages are all these unfortunate trends sending? It is simple – we have nothing in place to checkmate our increasing high rate of crime that is about to consume all of us, if nothing serious is done.

University lecturers, Royal fathers and even local stakeholders have become the target of kidnappers, armed robbers and assassins and it appears it ain’t stopping anytime soon, with the continuing ugly occurrence up till this moment. At least the new Caretaker Chairman of Remo North Local Govt, Hon. Taiwo Soniyi was kidnapped days ago, at Ogunmakin Village along old Lagos – Ibadan roads, days to his swearing in, while passing through a neighboring town. 

People rallied round to secure his release after dropping a huge sum at a site. And happily, one of the Fulani boys in the town was caught with the clothes with which the ransome money was brought.. Can you imagine?

People did this findings themselves in that town called Ipara-Remo, because of community vanguard with signal.  Today as I write, the guys are now under detained at Isara-Remo Police station, not after pointing at other perpetrators.

Where am I getting at conclusively? It is simple.  Community policing is the best way to fight for ourselves under this present predicament if we approach it holistically and events have shown that that they can greatly assist the police.

While serving at Ilorin, a fellow corp member shared his experience with me while living in Maiduguri. He said at the height of the bombing attacks in Borno State, the different clans had to raise many local vigilante groups that go from home to home to fish out suspected Boko haram members and this helped the military a lot.

In Ife circa 2008/9, some groups of bank robbers attacked about four banks and a micro-finance institution, killing 10 people, and leaving 40 others injured.

As they were about escaping, some brave members of “Ife action group” chased them, a lady led the robbery attack and the bullion van being taken away was recovered, not after gunning down one of the robbers.  I still can recall that beautiful piece written by the then Ila Orangun born OSBC Chairman, Dr. Yemi Faroumbi on how the local forces have saved the town in the face of visible inefficiency from our police forces.

Today, I don’t think robbers have successfully rob Ife banks again ever since, except tomorrow – God forbids. The last attempt in 2018, was resisted and foiled by the combined efforts of the Police and Vigilante groups.

When you look at the recent killings in Offa town of Kwara State and how many police were killed with tons of innocent Offa residents, you can’t but agree that the Nigerian police itself needs help.

Around June 2019, Ikire kidnappers & high way robbers were bush-hunted by Ikire selected vigilante groups and ever since, there seems to be normalcy, around the area. The Coordinator of the OPC in town, Mr. Adedeji Aladesawe, explained that a member of the group in Ikire, called “Akinlade Oke”, led the operation that culminated in the arrest of three members of the gang and a cleric said to be providing spiritual support for the gang.

What’s the big message here? – It takes a town person to know exactly who is who in a community, hence why there were noise about bringing up state policing then.

Amotekun is a welcome development. And such good initiative needs the support of all and sundries and it is too early to give in to suspicion of the group turning to militarizing group. It is a way to early to kill a noble Idea. Exploits of local vigilante groups in Nigeria can not be underestimated.  There are homes paying heavily for night-watch and security guards. If police is enough to protect all, we would not even be here discussing this.

I have read many things about Amotekun Local forces and I really don’t think any security conscious Yoruba person should object it, except we want to go the Benue way. God forbid! “Ohun bo, O hun bo. Àwòn l’aa de de – Ogun awitele kii paro to ba gbon – Preparing to fight crime in your home is not out of place.

For more than 10yrs now, I’m aware that there is police -community Network in South west (Ikò Oju’lalankan fi n sori)  and many of these men are still those picked to champion the cause in a full blown serious body, with a mission. I really don’t think, one prophet can disturb the other, and for me, sincerity of purpose is what matters most. I also seriously don’t think anyone should raise eyebrows because of political feelings or ill feelings, or as to what’s the essence or what their motives are.

If by now, we don’t see the clear picture, then it appears we are not serious at winning the war against increasing crime rate, in Nigeria, particularly in the west.

Those killings, could be anybody.  Your father in the village or your loved ones, I’m sure calling on local watchdogs to help when in crisis won’t be a crime, after all, what matters eventually is safety.

After putting this piece together, I read in the news again this morning 24th January 2020, that Alhaji Fatai Okoloyun the renowned Tradomedical expert and CEO Okooloyun Worldwide was shot dead yesterday by gunmen on the Eruwa-Igboora Road in Ibarapa Central is horrifying..

What else do we need, to show that there is no much better time to integrate Amotekun into our local policing system than now? As we can see, it is now crystal clear that almost every week, someone is being shot dead while traveling on Nigerian roads or even in their homes -many of whom you might not know because they are not popular.

You will meet more than enough police stop overs on high roads, but they are doing nothing to secure anyone as much, but collecting their compulsory N50 and harassing anyone that resists not to pay. They only run after hoodlums when they are told to do so.

This is the more reason, why you can’t but hope for local vigilante groups It is sad that Okoloyun has joined that statistics of Yoruba sons and daughters killed by unknown men.

Finally on this, I would say – Amotekun or Allied Vigilante forces, enough of reading unfound meanings to the modus operandi. Security consciousness is more than enough responsibility that we should take seriously, and take as a duty we all owe ourselves.

Whoever volunteers to help us to fight a crime, in the face haplessness, needs our support! Nigerians should wake up! Government should support the people on ways to protect them. For Amotekun, I will say finally that this is not tribal issue or agenda to usurp anything, not even close, but a brilliant massive will of a people to fight to be protected. It is not out of place for me!

May God protect us all.

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