The Development Agenda for Western Nigeria Commission said on Tuesday that the coronavirus pandemic was affecting the take-off of Operation Amotekun for the security of the six South-West states.
The commission said the restriction of movement and ban on large gathering of people to curb the spread of coronavirus had halted recruitment of corps for the regional security outfit.
The Western Nigeria Security Network, codenamed Operation Amotekun, had been inaugurated in September 2019, as a regional response to the growing insecurity in the South-West.
In a statement on Tuesday, titled, ‘COVID-19 pandemic: Amotekun and the call for deployment in the wake of insecurity in the region,’ the commission said the outbreak of COVID-19 in Nigeria had stalled the recruitment process.
The statement added that the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), who is the Chairman of Western Nigeria Governors’ Forum, had announced that the regional security outfit would commence operation in April based on a recruitment and training schedule.
It read in part, “The whole process has been stagnated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has made the gathering of the personnel for training difficult and unadvisable. The emergency situation posed by this deadly virus has also brought about some security challenges in some states in the zone as a result of some measures being taken by the governors to prevent its spread. For instance, in the wake of recent activities of hoodlums and street urchins, some concerned Nigerians have asked why Amotekun has not been deployed to intervene.
“It is imperative to note that the six governors in the zone prioritise the issue of security as it affects the lives and property of the citizens. But they are also aware of the need to avoid negative feedback from the people; the enrolment into Amotekun has to be thorough since the governors would be held accountable if the outfit goes outside its mandate.
“As a result of this, one would not expect the personnel to put on uniform, or the Amotekun vehicles deployed without proper training and mapping out of areas to be secured.
“At this juncture, it is important to state that some vigilantes and self-determination groups are working with the police and other security agencies operating within the zone, to flush out these criminals. We also want to assure all that as soon as COVID-19 pandemic is over, DAWN commission shall work with the states in continuing the process of recruiting, which has not been completed in the states, and to ensure that the uniform training as directed by the governors is conducted before the deployment of personnel and vehicles.
“DAWN commission wishes to assure the general public that Amotekun has come to stay. It is unfortunate that the COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted the operational take-off, but as soon as the coast is clear for resumption of activities and a return to our daily lives, the training of Amotekun personnel will commence in earnest and we shall soon be enjoying the services of the outfit across the region.“