Some commanders of the South-West Security Network, popularly called Amotekun Corps, have condemned what they described as organised media attacks on the regional security outfit.
They said the attacks against Amotekun were launched by state actors and disgruntled elements in the country.
The Amotekun commanders spoke in separate interviews with our correspondents on Friday.
The Amotekun Commander in Oyo State, Col. Olayinka Olayanju (retd.), maintained that contrary to the claim by critics, Amotekun, which was just six weeks old in Oyo State, had done well in many areas.
Olayanju said disgruntled elements were trying to pull down Amotekun because they were not happy with the successes being recorded by the security outfit.
He said, “Those who are saying Amotekun is killing, you have to look at the circumstances before you conclude. What are the circumstances?
“You don’t expect Amotekun to go and face armed robbers with charms when the armed robbers have charms and also have guns. We know where the adversaries are coming from.
“We will continue to train and retrain them (Amotekun corps). Emerging threats will tell you to train for this and that and we are doing that already.”
Also, the Commander, in Ekiti Brig. Gen. Joe Komolafe (retd.), described the critics as fifth columnists pursuing self-interest.
Komolafe said, “It is just fifth columnists that are saying Amotekun operatives are killing people in Oyo State. In Oyo State they went out as a task force. Why are they attacking only Amotekun? Why are they not attacking other members of the task force?” Komolafe said the attackers were angry and frustrated because their plans to take control of the security outfit failed.
He said operatives of the Amotekun Corps in Ekiti State had been trained to respect human rights and sanctity of lives, adding that they were briefed daily on how to handle difficult situations.
“We thank God that up till today (Friday), nothing unusual or dangerous has happened in Ekiti State and I am sure nothing dangerous will happen in Ekiti State,” he said. Also speaking, the Amotekun Corp Commander in Osun, Brig. Gen. Bashir Adewinbi (retd.), said men of the security outfit had been properly trained in the handling of firearms.
Adewinbi said, “You can’t fire unless the patrol Commander or the operation commander gives you permission to do so. When you go out and use firearm, you must account for it when you return.
“There must be ‘fire discipline’. It is part of what we intend to intensify in the course of their training programme. Weapon discipline and other related matters are well spelt out in Amotekun operational procedure in Osun. With this, I think we should be able to prevent the misuse of firearms by Amotekun operatives in Osun.”
In the same vein, the Commander in Ondo State, Chief Adetunji Adeleye, ruled out misconduct among his men.
Adeleye said, “We made our men to pass through serious and rigorous training. During the training, those who could not cope left and after the training, those who displayed some acts that are not tolerable to the corps were dismissed immediately.
“There is no compromise about discipline and integrity in Amotekun, at all; there is no room for indiscipline. I can attest to it and I can assure you that you won’t find a genuine Amotekun operative misbehaving in any local government area in Ondo State, even when I’m not there.”
On his part, the Special Adviser to the Ogun State Governor on Public Communications, Remmy Hazzan, said the Amotekun corps in Ogun would receive top-notch training before deployment, which would discourage them from abusing the power conferred on them.
Hassan said, “The training they are going to receive will be top-notch. It will be such that it will stop them from unnecessarily abusing the power.
“Besides, the Amotekun commander is a refined retired police officer who attained the rank of Commissioner of Police.”
The Amotekun corps in Oyo had enmeshed in controversy following the killing of a 400-level student at the University of Ibadan, Kolade Gbadebo.
While the security outfit maintained that the UI student was a leader of an armed robbery gang its men encountered in Oyo, the family of the deceased rejected the claim.
Personnel of the security outfit also killed two persons in Tapa town in the Ibarapa North Local Government Area of the state.
The latest killing by the security outfit happened on Wednesday night in the Mokola area of Ibadan when an Amotekun officer, Kazeem Afolabi, fired a shot that killed 21-year-old Tosin Thomas.
But the commander defended all the killings except Thomas’ which he admitted the killer operative acted out of the protocol of the agency. The officer has since been dismissed and handed over to the police.
The relationship between Amotekun and the police in Oyo State has also not been cordial.
The immediate past Commissioner of Police, Chris Enwonwu, said the police would no longer accept to take custody of any suspect badly injured by Amotekun.
But the Amotekun commander said his men were not responsible for battering suspects. He explained that residents, on many occasions, would have inflicted injuries on suspects before Amotekun would get there to rescue them and take them to police stations