Amotekun: How Akeredolu’s doggedness shaped South-West security


Former Governor, Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu was born on 21 July, 1956, and died on Wednesday, 27 December, 2023.

Akeredolu, a native of Owo in Ondo State, was an accomplished lawyer who earned the title of Commander of the Order of the Niger, CON.

Nicknamed Aketi, the fearless lawyer joined partisan politics shortly after he served as President of Nigerian Bar Association, NBA. He also bagged the highest title in the legal profession, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN.

Akeredolu served as governor of Ondo State from 24th February 2017 till his death.

The former governor, according to many of those who have paid tributes to him, left some legacies.


Top among the legacies is the role he played in the establishment of the Western Nigeria Security Network, WNSN, also known as Amotekun.

Newspot recalls that South West zone was under siege by the activities of kidnappers, armed robbers and ritual killers at a time.

One major incident at that time was the killing of a 58-year-old daughter of the leader of Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, Mrs Funke Olakunrin.

Olakunrin was killed by some people suspected to be Fulani herdsmen in Ondo State.

This then infuriated Akeredolu and other stakeholders in the zone to find a lasting solution to the menace.

Newspot gathered that although some non-formal security groups such as Soludrero, Agbekoya, Odua Peoples Congress (OPC), Isokan, among others have been existence, the establishment of Amotekun, which was not an easy task, helped in shaping the security architecture of the region.

Akeredolu, in a bid to rid the zone of criminals, rallied his colleagues from the zone – Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos) Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), and Dapo Abiodun (Ogun) to have a unifying local security outfit that will tackle the menace of insecurity in tthe region.

The governors then agreed in 2019 to establish Amotekun so as to strengthen the security situation in the region.

Amotekun was finally launched in Ibadan on Thursday, 9th January 2020, at an event attended by some of the governors and other stakeholders in the region.

Akeredolu, while speaking, declared that the region and its governors strongly believed in the unity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and its indissoluble sovereignty.

The late governor, who spoke as the Chairman, Western Nigeria Governors’ Forum, said that governors in the region were committed, in all ramifications, to the ideals that would make the country stronger and more united, and not to divide it.

Akeredolu said, “Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, it is appropriate for me at this juncture, to state that the Southwest States of the Federation believe in the unity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and its indissoluble sovereignty. We are committed, in all ramifications, to the ideals that will make the country stronger and more united.

“The various nation-states within the Federation are diverse, yet almost all of us agree that our strength is in our unity.

“Consequently, we shall continue to support the Federal Government, under the able and indefatigable leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, in its avowed commitment and determination to take the country to the next level. Let me on this note thank DAWN Commission for the wonderful job done in crafting the operational framework for Amotekun.

“The Commission has taken care of all grey areas that could cause friction in the operations of the personnel that will be deployed for the programme.

“As a matter of fact, the Nigeria Police will oversee and moderate the activities of Amotekun, thus making its operation conform to the acceptable standards.

“Amotekun is the Yoruba name for the Leopard. It is not the Tiger, Ekun. It is also important that I allay the fears of all those who have expressed misgivings as regards the quality of the personnel to be recruited to serve in the outfit. There is an adequate recruitment mechanism for the exercise. The conventional security agencies will participate, actively, in profiling the recruits.

“Nobody with questionable character will participate in the programme. We will make it difficult for undesirable elements to compound the challenges being encountered. Proper background checks will be carried out on personnel to be recruited while the needed registration/identification of such personnel will be done to ensure accountability.

“Let me seize this opportunity to once again appreciate the Nigerian Armed Forces, the Nigeria Police, State Security Services, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and other security agencies for their unrelenting efforts in combating the various crimes threatening peace and security in the entire country.”

How ex-Attorney General, Abubakar Malami opposed creation of Amotekun

Newspot recalls that the then federal government led by former President Muhammadu Buhari opposed Amotekun.

The then government through the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami vehemently kicked against the establishment of Amotekun.

The then federal government described the creation of Amotekun as “unconstitutional’.

Malami, in a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Umar Gwandu, said the establishment of Amotekun was not backed by any known law in the land.

“The setting up of the paramilitary organization called ‘Amotekun’ is illegal and runs contrary to the provisions of the Nigerian law. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) has established the Army, Navy and Airforce, including the Police and other numerous paramilitary organisations for the purpose of the defence of Nigeria.

“As a consequence of this, no State Government, whether singly or in a group has the legal right and competence to establish any form of organization or agency for the defence of Nigeria or any of its constituent parts.

“This is sanctioned by the provision of Item 45 of the Second Schedule of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) authorizing the Police and other Federal Government security services established by law to maintain law and order.

“The law will take its natural course in relation to excesses associated with organization, administration and participation in “Amotekun” or continuous association with it as an association.

“Finally, it is important to put on record that the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice was not consulted on the matter. If it had, proper information and guidance would have been offered to ensure that Nigeria’s defence and corporate entity are preserved at all times,” he said then.

Tinubu, Soyinka, Afenifere’s reactions doused tension, paved way for Amotekun’s acceptability

Newspot recalls that the controversy over the establishment of Amotekun lasted for many weeks before it subsided.

It became a subject of discussion among Nigerians, especially those from the Western region, both at home and in the Diaspora.

Some of those who spoke at different occasions in support of Amotekun included the incumbent President, Bola Tinubu, who was the national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, at that time.

Others were Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka and the pan Yoruba social-cultural group, Afenifere.

Tinubu in his reaction, blamed Malami for acting hastily in declaring Amotekun illegal.

Tinubu, in a statement issued in January 2020 said, “The Governors claimed they consulted regularly with the police and security agencies. This was the right thing to do. However, their failure to include the office of the Attorney-General in these discussions is the source of the current public uproar.

“This was an unfortunate omission the governors should regret and seek to remedy. However, the conceptual merits and positive functional aspects of Amotekun should not be tainted by this procedural defect. While the Attorney-General is a conscientious public servant, he is also human. Not having been consulted, he was suddenly faced with an unexpected public announcement regarding a matter within his official ambit.

“He likely feared the failure to consult him meant that federal prerogatives were being encroached. To blame him for this conclusion would be to blame human nature itself. Though his negative reaction was understandable it was also unhelpful. The Attorney-General acted hastily in rendering a public statement that was more inaccurate than it should have been. Amotekun was never proposed as a “defence” agency; the Attorney-General erred in using this description.

“The use of uniforms and brightly coloured vehicles may not be the best ideas but they do not render Amotekun a defence agency or paramilitary group any more than a designated school van carrying uniformed students constitutes a paramilitary deployment. Believing the governors had crossed the line, the Attorney-General should have reached out to them. Before going public, he should have sought a private meeting so that he could have a better factual understanding of Amotekun.

“This would have enabled him to give the governors any specific constitutional or other objectives he might have. In this way, the two sides would have engaged in private consultations to reach agreement on the way forward. This cooperative process might have helped to correct some of the organisational lapses above identified. Such a diplomatic and wise step also would have prevented the current public acrimony,” he said.

Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, countered Malami.

Soyinka said that Amotekun “has come to stay.”

He condemned the decision of the then Federal Government to outlaw the new security outfit.

“The Amotekun outfit was set up by the SouthWest governors to tackle cases of insecurity in the region which existing security bodies have been unable to address. Operation Amotekun has come to stay,” he said then.

Similarly, Afenifere, in its stand, told the South West governors not to be intimidated by Malami’s declaration.

Fasoranti said, “Operation Amotekun is a welcome development, but they were being asked not to do it. The Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, insisted that they would do it.

“I want them to go ahead and do it in the interest of our people; we cannot leave ourselves here, and be helpless in the face of incessant onslaught.

“I think he is talking for somebody. Silence means consent, he is talking the mind of the presidency, that is what they want. It confirms the suspicion that they are trying to protect some interests here in the South-West. I agree with that too, so that they can go on and do what they like with impunity. It is unfortunate.

“It is very bad to leave our people helpless, defenceless and without any succour; without any protection”.

Newspot reports that despite the opposition, Akeredolu championed the course of Amotekun till he died.

He said that if the Federal government allowed security outfits in some northern states to bear arms, then Amotekun should be given that right as well.

Our correspondent reports that from Ondo to Ekiti, Osun to Oyo, Ogun to some parts of Lagos State, Amotekun has become a household name in terms of prompt response to security challenges, such as kidnapping, armed robbery and ritual killings.

It is operational in the six South West states of Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti and Osun, with the exception of Lagos.

All the five functional states have passed the laws establishing Amotekun in their respective states.

The Ekiti State House of Assembly passed the bill for the establishment of Amotekun into law in February 2020.

The then governor, Kayode Fayemi signed the bill into law in March 2020.

Oyo State House of Assembly followed suit in March 2020.

The bill was subsequently signed into law by governor Seyi Makinde a few days after.

Newspot reports that a similar feat was recorded in Osun, Ogun and Ondo.

Sustain Amotekun to immortalise Akeredolu – Oyo NUJ tells South West governors

It is in recognition of the role played by Akeredolu during the establishment of Amotekun that the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Oyo State Council, enjoined the governors in the zone to sustain the security outfit.

The union made this declaration via a communique issued at the end of its monthly congress, presided over by the State Chairman, Comrade Ademola Babalola.

The communique was prepared by the trio of Comrade Seye Ojo – Chairman, Comrade Ismail Fasasi – Secretary and Comrade Mosun Akinola – Member.

It read, “The Congress paid glowing tributes to the immediate past governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu (SAN), who died in the early hours of Wednesday December 27, 2023.

“It commiserated with Akeredolu’s family, the people of Ondo State, and South West on his demise after a protracted battle with prostate cancer. It stated that Akeredolu spent a major part of his life in Ibadan and also invested in the city, which made him a rare gem to both Oyo State and Ondo State, his home state.

“The Congress noted that Akeredolu played a significant role in the conceptualisation and formation of Western Nigeria Security Network, otherwise known as Amotekun Corps, which has cascaded down to state security networks in the South West, thereby serving as local police in the geo-political zone with a view to improving the security architecture of the zone.

“The Congress said Akeredolu remained the Chairman South West Governors’ Forum before his demise. He was very articulate and battled with the Federal Government till the formation of the Amotekun Corps.

“The Council also commended the gallant effort and bravery of Akeredolu against the onslaught of criminal herdsmen in the zone, which led to the attack on St Francis Catholic Cathedral in Owo, his hometown in Ondo State, during which bandits killed at least 40 worshippers on Sunday June 5, 2022.

“The Congress appealed to the South West Governors to immortalise Akeredolu by upholding his legacies, especially on the formation of the Amotekun Corps.”

We have made several arrests – Oyo Amotekun Commandant

The Oyo State commandant of Amotekun, Col. Olayinka Olayanju (rtd) while speaking, noted that the security outfit has recorded many achievements since its creation.

He added that many suspects have been arrested.

He noted that some of the cases handled by the security outfit have been transferred to the police.

Olayanju, who spoke during a telephone conversation with Newspot, said that the security outfit cannot assess itself but the people.

“How can I assess myself? It is the people that will tell you.

“I cannot tell you that. I know that we have made many arrests. Some have been transferred to the police,” he stated.

Akeredolu institutionalised Amotekun before he died – Chairman, Council of Amotekun commandants

The Chairman, Council of Amotekun commandants in South West, Adetunji Adeleye, while speaking with Newspot, said that Akeredolu saw Amotekun beyond himself.

He maintained that what Amotekun has achieved will not be possible without the former governor.

Adeleye, who is also the Commandant of Amotekun in Ondo State, maintained that the former governor institutionalised Amotekun as a full-fledged grassroots security outfit in the state.

He noted that the state was faced with three major security problems such as kidnapping, armed robberies and farmers/ herders clashes.

He, however, said that all the problems have been reduced to the barest minimum since the formation of the security outfit in 2020.

According to him, “In Ondo State, we took the lead in signing into law the Amotekun. When I took up the Amotekun in Ondo State, there were three major security issues- armed robbery, kidnapping and farmers/ herders clashes.

“The most prevalent is the farmers/herders clashes. Within one month of resumption, I received about 5,000 petitions and I moved into action. So within my first 90 days, I arrested over 10,000 cows.

“Substantially, we commenced state patrols. Within one month, we ensured a drastic reduction of crime rate in the state. By the end of 2020, we commenced border patrols between Ondo and Osun and Ekiti states. We rescued over 100 kidnapped victims and arrested many kidnappers.

“Along the line in 2021, Akeredolu made sure that the law establishing Amotekun was reviewed, which gave us more opportunities and legal framework to work, as I talk to you today, I have over 5,000 people in the correctional center. We now prosecute directly without the police.

“As I talk to you today, farmers/herders clashes have reduced by more than 80 per cent. Again, armed robbery has reduced, bank robbery is zero.

“I also want to place it on record, if you look at the news, we recently paraded about 62 criminals out of which about 40 of them are kidnappers. We have rescued over a thousand victims since our inception.

“I will tell you that Akeredolu has institutionalised Amotekun as a full-fledged grassroots security outfit in Ondo State. We do all these with active synergy with all security agencies in Ondo State.

“Luckily, I equally doubled as the Corps Commander and S.A. Security to the government of Ondo State and I am equally the Chairman of the Council of Amotekun commandants in the South West, so this gives me such large zeal to coordinate all the Amotekun in the five active states.

“So, I want to place it on record that all these would not have been possible without the backing of governor Akeredolu. It was like he saw it beyond himself”.

Amotekun’s formation would not be possible without Akeredolu – Maja-Maja

A Yoruba socio-cultural group, Maja-Maja, has declared that what is known today as Amotekun would not be possible without Akeredolu.

Coordinator of the group, Comrade Adedina Akinpelu made this declaration while speaking with Newspot.

Akinpelu told Newspot that the menace of kidnapping, armed robbery and farmers/herdsmen clashes which prompted the formation of Amotekun have reduced in the region.

“Even when some governors in the Yoruba states moved against him, he led the struggle. He won the struggle.

“In a nutshell, he won the battle. The rate of kidnapping and armed robbery have reduced in the South West. You cannot compare then with what is happening now. We can’t say 100 per cent, but 85 per cent,” he declared.

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