Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams has described the decision by the Inspector-General of Police ,Mr. Mohammed Adamu to work with the Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC in an attempt to find a lasting solution to recent insecurity challenges in the South-West as a good step in the right direction.
Adams who is also the National Co-ordinator of OPC made this disclosure in a chat with select journalists in Lagos
He also spoke on other issues of national interests.
What is your assessment of the steps being taken so far on the insecurity challenges in the South- West especially given the recent Security Summit held in Oyo State where the IGP, Mohammed Adamu promised to partner with the OPC to fight insecurity in the South West?
I believe this is the beginning of a breakthrough on the issue of insecurity in the South- West. The six governors of the South-West agreed with the IGP which is what we have been demanding since the insecurity challenges started about two years ago because there was a lot of pressure on me from the Yoruba people at home and in the Diaspora. I usually inform them that the Aare Ona Kakanfo of today is a modern one unlike the Aare that existed during the time of Oyo Empire. Now, the Aare Ona Kakanfo of today has to follow due process because of the sovereignty of Nigeria in 1914, onward to Independence when we started having security institutions controlled by the Federal Government. Even though I have the structure of OPC at hand, if the institution does not agree with me, it will boomerang if I dabble into the issue of security without the approval of the institution. I thank God that now the Police and the governors have agreed on the need to partner with the OPC. We must realise that the issue of security does not lie with the Police alone. The Chief Security Officer of various states have more influence on the issue of security and we are lucky that three governors and two deputy governors present at the summit as well as royal fathers which include the Ooni of Ife, representative of Alaafin of Oyo, Deji of Akure, Oba of Ugboland, Oba Aromolaran of Ijeshaland, Alake of Egbaland, Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos and Olubadan of Ibadanland all agreed that they are ready to complement the efforts of the Police. So, the crux of the summit is that the OPC is ready to partner with the police in tackling the issue of insecurity in the South- West region.
Are there plans to incorporate other relevant agencies who are not members of OPC in this new arrangement?
As the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, I have decided that it will not only be the OPC that will be involved in this. All the relevant groups will also work with the Police. I have been doing it even before this summit. I have been meeting with South- West vigilantes and the Agbekoyas. Now, we want to extend the invitation to the hunters. By next week, we will meet with all stakeholders involved on how to build a structure that will liaise with the police. My duty as Aare Ona Kakanfo goes beyond the issue of security. The unity of the Yoruba race is very paramount on my agenda. I am also interested in assisting our governors on the issue of economic situation of Yorubaland. The third aspect is the issue of cultural evangelism which we believe is one of the things giving us problems in Yorubaland. We want to encourage our royal fathers to continue in the promotion and propagation of the Yoruba race. We are fast losing our identity because of education and civilisation and one of my duties as Aare Ona Kakanfo is to ensure that our culture is preserved and respected.
Will this partnership with the Police signal the end to the killings, banditry and other criminal vices we are seeing in the South- West?
The partnership with the Police will solve a lot of problems especially on the issue of insecurity. In security, there is something they call ‘show of force’. This show of force alone can solve criminal activities by 40 percent. What happened at the summit can be described as a psychological show of force. With the partnership with the Nigerian Police, most of the OPC members in the South-West who have been depressed about the issue of insecurity in the South- West will now wake up from their slumber. At the same time, those who refused to work with OPC members before because we were not on good terms will now work together, using OPC members for intelligence gathering and seeing them as partners in the fight against criminal activities. The current IGP is a very clever man who is sincere about putting an end to insecurity in the South- West region. He was Vice- President for INTERPOL for 11 years. He believes that for you to succeed as a police officer, there is a need for you to partner with your host community and other relevant groups. That is what he is doing now and he is achieving results without talking much. He is a man that can be described as a silent operator. The partnership between the OPC and the Police is a signal to the entire South- West that an end is in sight to criminal activities in the region. For example, when Bakassi boys came out in the South- East, criminal activities was reduced to the barest minimum. But what happened? The Police refused to cooperate with the Bakassi boys and frustrated them and before you knew it, criminal activities crept back into the South East. Since these boys are fighting crimes, they are assisting the police in doing its job and what the police is expected to do is to show them support and tell them not to take laws into their hands by carrying out jungle justice on criminals. When they arrest any criminals, they should hand them over to the Police. That was one of the appeals I made at the summit. I told members of the OPC that they must not take advantage of the partnership with the Police to take laws into their hands. So, I believe that the partnership with the Police has already sent a lot of fears into criminals in the South- West region. Before now, some of these criminals always hide under some police officers for cover when they are arrested by OPC members but now, they know they don’t have anywhere to run to. There is no hiding place for criminals in the South- West again.
Have there been previous partnerships between OPC and Police before? If yes, what are the results of the collaboration?
In some parts of Lagos like Epe and Ibeju-Lekki areas, kidnapping is still taking place. They kidnap some wealthy people and collect ransom ranging from N50m to N100m from them. Now, with the OPC-Police partnership, a lot of things will change. Take for instance, before we partnered with the Lagos State Police command on the criminal activities of Badoo cultists in Ikorodu area of Lagos, we had the information on the kingpins of those behind Badoo in Ikorodu and Ogun state. We had all their names and the facts, we knew where they lived, how they operate and the people behind it but we refused to divulge it to the police because we didn’t want to put ourselves into trouble. It was until when the police asked us to partner with them that was when we swung into action and within a period of two months, Badoo became a thing of the past and peace has returned to the affected communities. Another example is the issue of banditry in Festac and Ojo cantonment area. They were kidnapping people and collecting as low as N50, 000. Immediately they realised that I have moved out from my house in Abule Ado, they started their criminal activities. The matter became so worse that they kidnapped a Lieutenant in the Army. The Nigerian Army became furious about it and instructed the officer in charge of Ojo Cantonment to do everything possible to get rid of the criminal elements and rescue the lieutenant. The head of the Ojo cantonment now called some of our leaders in Amuwo- Odofin . He also called me but I said it is an issue that can be handled by the OPC coordinators in the area. On the day of the operation, I drove to Abule –Ado to witness what happened. The officers of the Nigerian Army and OPC members went to the creeks and within three hours, they flushed out the bandits. These criminals have about 30 buildings, shrines and other things in the creeks. After the operation, there has been no incident of kidnappings in the area and residents can now sleep with their two eyes closed. So, I think the IGP should be commended for this because if you have a difficult task at hand and you have somebody that can assist you to get the job done faster, it will be unwise to ignore such a person and try to do it alone. United Kingdom with all its police and sophisticated equipment still makes use of civilians to give them information about strange people. The same also happens in many European countries. If advanced countries can do this, why can’t we replicate the same here?
Some are calling for investments in technology such as drones. What is your take on this?
I listened to many of the speakers at the summit talking about investment in technology. To me, I believe it is not about the use of technology alone. If you have all the technologies in this world and there is no sincerity and trust, you won’t achieve any meaningful result. Those who monitor CCTV for instance, if they have been compromised and they see certain things, they will not inform the relevant authorities because they are wining and dining with the criminals. But when there is sincerity, even somebody without gun can perform wonders than the person with the most sophisticated weapon when it comes to security matters.
It is not as if OPC is eager to partner with the police on security for personal gains. To me , it is a call to service to defend my ancestral land. I am not a security person from the beginning; I am one of the freedom fighters in this country who fought for the restoration of democracy. I have been in this struggle since 1993. I have a lot of experience psychologically and also have a lot of native intelligence. I know how we can assist the security agencies in this country in reducing crime to the barest minimum, both physically and spiritually. However, we won’t expose our strategies to the media. As the Aare Ona Kakanfo, I will ensure all relevant groups in the South- West are incorporated in this project; it will not be an OPC thing alone. On my part, I have been partnering with our elders in Afenifere, Yoruba Council of Elders and Yoruba Unity Forum. I will coordinate them to be security stakeholders so that we can achieve a common goal in the fight against insecurity by liasing with not just the police but the DSS, Army and other security agencies.
The governors are the Chief Security Officers in their respective states. What are their roles in this new arrangement?
The governors have their own plans too to checkmate the excesses of criminals in the South- West. We have two phases. First is the arrangement of the IGP. The IGP is bringing a special squad that relevant groups will liaise with on addressing insecurity challenges. The governors are also making local arrangements. All the six governors in the South- West have purchased patrol vehicles which have been shared to all the local securities. We used to have Forest Guards but today, they are no more in existence because the local governments refused to pay their salaries as all the monies have been collected by the governors. The Forest Guards would have given us enough intelligence on the activities of killer herdsmen and the criminals among them. The rural securities coordinated by the governors will go into the rural and urban areas, and complement the efforts of the Nigerian Police with information. They don’t need to carry guns but they will work with the police so as to achieve a common goal.