The launch of Western Nigeria Security Network, codenamed Operation Amotekun, by governors of Southwest states early this year attracted a deluge of kudos from far and wide.
Given that the region witnessed an unprecedented spate of insecurity last year, many residents were elated with the inauguration of the outfit.
Despite its launch in the six Southwest states, some residents of Oyo State, who spoke with The Guardian, said they were yet to feel its impact, even though the state government had appointed the leadership of the outfit.
During the week, however, its Chairman in the state, Gen. Kunle Togun (rtd), disclosed that the outfit had received an approval to recruit 3,000 personnel ahead of its formal takeoff.
Togun explained that those to be recruited are hunters, vigilance groups and Agbekoya members who are resident in various communities and whose ages range between 18 and 60, urging those interested to apply online.
Nevertheless, hunters, under the aegis of Soluderu Hunters of Nigeria (SHN), said the mode of recruitment would affect the chances of its members getting enlisted.
National President and Founder of SHN and Ogboju Ode Asoluderu, Oba Nureni Ajijola-Anabi, said the process must be made open and simple for his members, who he said are about eight million cuts across the six Southwest, Kogi and Kwara states, to be part of the security corps.
“We heard that we should filling in forms on the Internet, while only those who satisfy the process would be recruited for Amotekun job. We don’t want the online recruitment process.
“Our fear is that we don’t know the kind of people they are going to recruit together with us. There is no concrete covenant that will make others to be afraid of betrayal. All we want is to have an oath that will prevent officers of Amotekun from compromising. It will not be easy for us to work with someone that has not taken an oath or a covenant.
“If they will not allow all those who are officers to take an oath, they should create a separate unit for SHN, so that they can differentiate our work from others, because we know those who are competent to work among us.
“They should give us forms to fill in order to enroll in the operation. We are ready to work in Amotekun if the process is made open. A separate arm should be created for us and there should be an oath that will prevent members of Amotekun from betraying us.
“Soludero should be given prominent role, because we have been working and providing security. We are hunters in the bush.”
He urged government to empower them with vehicles, motorcycles and funds to enable them fish out criminal elements in the state and region.
Also speaking, National Public Relations Officer of Vigilance Group of Nigeria (VGN), Prof. Nelson Fashina, called on the governors to make the recruitment process open, saying if they are not intending to use the outfit for selfish political motives, they should involve relevant stakeholders in the region.
Fashina, who is also the Deputy National Coordinator of Hunter Group of Nigeria (HGN), maintained that those skilled in security and intelligence gathering should be involved in the exercise, adding: “We have observed with caution, the strategy put in place by the governors in the recruitment of Amotekun officers and men.
“We are a national body and federalised security organisation recognised by the federal government, but those of us who are from the Southwest have our affiliations and commitment to the success of Amotekun venture. For example, my purpose of joining VGN is to protect the entire country in synergy with the formal security agencies.
“But then, my own Yoruba people first, so I will not allow insurgents, hoodlums, whatever, whenever and wherever in the world to disrupt the peace and culture of the Yoruba nation. As a result, I was expecting that given the experience of people like us, we should be involved in the recruitment exercise for Amotekun, although they invited us on occasions to their programme.
“I expect that leaders of any security organisation indigenous to the Yoruba nation should be called and involved in the recruitment exercise. There are people who have the skills, can carry weapons and are already trained as hunters.”
Reacting, the Oyo State Government, through the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Oyelowo Oyewo, said the outfit is not to pander to any group, but promised that the process would be made open.
He said: “Amotekun is not all about hunters; Amotekun is a security outfit that has some qualifications for purposes. It is not to displace community or neighbourhood watch.
“For instance, we cannot take all the hunters in Oyo State. Amotekun has a set mode of operations that constitutes guidelines. So, if a person doesn’t qualify, the person cannot read or write, cannot even understand simple instructions and all that, it might be a disqualification for purposes of bringing such people on board.
“But that is not to say there are no areas of need for them. For instance, there is some native intelligence that you might need for collaboration to secure some dense forests. We know that in the time past, particularly in cases of kidnapping, hunters were very useful. The person might not be necessarily employed on a full-time basis in the Amotekun framework, that doesn’t mean that when the need arises, such groups will not be contacted.
“Amotekun framework is to meet best practices for security and it is not to pander to any group of people. It is an integration of all the forms of security, both local intelligence and all that. So, creating a hunters’ unit will be counter-productive, particularly if we want to present a modern security outfit that can deal with all manners of issues.
“It is an integrative approach that where hunters are needed for intelligence gathering, we will rely on local resources. If hunters have information, Amotekun will work with any group of persons who are in the state to secure the state.”
According to him: “There is a place for those who cannot read or write; it is not so much a disqualification. If they organise themselves, they can get the services of someone to download the materials and do the necessary things. They don’t have to wait until everything comes to them.”
He insisted that the system and process of recruitment are open, as Amotekun is a state support outfit.