Controversy has continued to trail the setting up of the Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN), popularly known as Amotekun, following allegations of abuse against the initiative even as some states in the South-West continue to dilly-dally about it, Daily Trust can report.
Amnesty International, human rights activists and some lawyers on Thursday urged federal authorities to caution those behind Amotekun before the security outfit further degenerates into a militia group.
The issues surrounding Amotekun’s modus operandi appear more disturbing, especially in Oyo State, where the operatives are wielding dangerous weapons, including guns, during their operations.
Many people have been killed by Amotekun operatives even as their political leaders continue to live in denial while defending or justifying the group’s activities.
The latest incident was Wednesday’s killing of another student, 21-year-old Tosin Thomas, in Ibadan, less than 24 hours after Governor Seyi Makinde defended the operatives of Amotekun when he insisted that they did not kill some innocent Fulani herders.
Speaking on the killing, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Olugbenga Fadeyi, confirmed in a statement in Ibadan on Thursday that an Amotekun operative was responsible for the killing of the student at a Total Filling Station at Mokola roundabout in the evening.
The commandant of Amotekun, Col. Olayanju Olayinka (rtd), also confirmed the incident.
Mr Olayinka, however, said the operative who shot the deceased has been dismissed and handed over to the police.
Daily Trust gathered that two young men had a misunderstanding in the build-up to the killing, which led to one of them inviting men of Amotekun to the scene.
The source said when the operative got there, he did not engage them before he fired the shot which hit the deceased.
Amotekun operatives have reportedly killed 11 people within three weeks in Oyo State.
Daily Trust reports that on December 24, 2020, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) accused members of Amotekun deployed in Oyo town of killing a 400-level student of the University of Ibadan, Akolade Gbadebo.
Also, on January 3, a member of the corps, Ibrahim Ogundele, allegedly shot and wounded Fatai Yekini — a police officer on attachment with Ojongbodu Police Station as Special Police Constabulary who was asked to join the security outfit on a joint operation that day — at Isale-Oyo area of Oyo.
On Saturday, three Fulani residents of the state were allegedly killed by the Amotekun corps in Okebi, Tapa area of Ibarapa Central Local Government Area of the state.
However, a family head, Mogaji Wale Oladoja, cautioned members of the public not to change the narrative of the incident, adding that it was unfair to turn it into a tribal war.
He said Yoruba and Hausa people had been living peacefully for many years without crisis, adding “inter-marriages have been happening between them from time immemorial.”
He said, “We don’t have to turn this to [an ethnic] war for no reason.
“Almost ten people were killed in that area in less than a week and you expect security men to fold their arms. Let’s be reasonable.”
On their activities, Oladoja said; “If not for Amotekun, those hoodlums could have hijacked the state from the people.
“Those Amotekun people are working since the police stopped working after the #EndSARS protest. They are helping us.”
The Sarkin Fulani of Oyo State, Alhaji Salihu Abdulkadir, said his people were not opposed to the activities of Amotekun, but their operations must follow due process and must respect human rights.
He insisted that the incident of Saturday where a prominent Fulani identified as Alhaji Usman Okebi and two of his sons were killed was an attack on innocent herders in the community.
“They said they were kidnappers yet you met them in their residence. This was a man preparing for the wedding of his children, which was to take place that day. It is sad indeed,” he said.
He said Amotekun should have arrested them and handed them over to the police instead of killing them on mere suspicion that they were kidnappers.