Amotekun: Presidency's Meeting With South West Governors Called Off

A scheduled meeting between the Presidency and the South-West governors on the Western Nigeria Security Network, Operation Amotekun, was called off on Tuesday.
It is now rescheduled for Thursday (tomorrow).

While the South-West governors could not meet the Presidency on Tuesday, various groups in the zone held rallies in state capitals in support of Amotekun.  In Lagos, the police barricaded the venue of a pro-Amotekun rally.

The South-West had launched the operation on January 9 in Ibadan to help address rising security challenges, particularly kidnapping and banditry, in Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Lagos, Ekiti and Ondo states.

The South-West governors, who made 120 patrol vehicles available to the security outfit, had said it would complement the police and the military in terms of intelligence gathering.

But on Tuesday last week,  the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, said Operation Amotekun  was “illegal.”

He stated,  “The setting up of the paramilitary organisation called Amotekun is illegal and runs contrary to the provisions of the Nigerian law.”

A few days later,  the Chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, said the South-West would go ahead with the security outfit.

Akeredolu, who is also the Ondo State governor, said the South-West would first seek a political solution to the problem, then go to court if the first step failed.

But a legal luminary and founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Chief Afe Babalola, on Sunday, advised the South-West governors to proceed with the implementation of Amotekun and leave the Federal Government to challenge the matter in court.

The PUNCH had exclusively reported on Thursday that as part of efforts to find a solution to the problem, the governors would this week meet with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

But in the Presidential Villa schedule sighted by one of our correspondents on Tuesday, the meeting was timed to hold at 12noon and to be  presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo in the absence of the President.

However,  by 12pm when none of the governors came to the Villa, The PUNCH learnt that the meeting was shifted to 2pm.

At 2pm, the meeting was eventually rescheduled to Thursday, though Osinbajo was in the office.

Findings by The PUNCH showed that two of the governors were out of the country to London to attend the United Kingdom-Africa Summit in company with Buhari.

They are those of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and Ogun State, Mr Dapo Abiodun. They are not expected back home till Thursday.

A source told The PUNCH that the meeting was moved to Thursday when most of the 36 state governors would be in Abuja for the National Economic Council meeting.

The source stated, “Thursday seems convenient for everyone; all the governors are coming for their monthly NEC meeting.

“The South-West governors’ meeting with the Presidency too can take place on Thursday. It’s more convenient that way. Besides, two of the South-West governors are not in the country now”, the source added.

However, it was further gathered that the meeting might have been rescheduled to coincide with Buhari’s return on Thursday so that the governors would meet with him directly.

“It’s a delicate issue, which the VP too may be trying to handle with caution because of possible political backlash at his home base”, another source claimed.

The PUNCH learnt that the Presidency was not exactly against Amotekun since Buhari had already given his backing to community policing.

One source informed The PUNCH that the Attorney General of the Federation’s declaration of Amotekun as being “illegal” might have been his own view as the AGF.

“I think what is happening is that the AGF gave his own opinion. It is not like it is Buhari that is against Amotekun, since he has already approved community policing.

“But the idea of the governors coming for a meeting is to try and discuss to resolve issues like the modu operandi, or to bring Amotekun to fall in line completely with the government’s community policing concept”, the source stated.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity (Office of the Vice-President), Mr Laolu Akande, said he had no information about any meeting on Amotekun earlier fixed for Tuesday.

READ ALSO: Soyinka slams Balarabe over anti-Amotekun comment

Akande only said he was aware that there would be a NEC meeting on Thursday (tomorrow).

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