Says ‘we are ready for Niger, Chad, Mali criminals who infiltrated S/West’
Lashes critics of security outfit as either sadists or do not value human life’
FOLLOWING the launch of the Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Operation Amotekun (Leopard), Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, in this interview, says the Yoruba people are happy with the outfit. Aare Adams, who flays critics of the outfit, says those playing politics with Operation Amotekun do not have value for lives. Excerpts:
By Dapo Akinrefon, Deputy Regional Editor, South-West
How do you see the launch of Operation Amotekun?
Amotekun Operation is a welcome development and, at the same time, it is a belated idea that we had been expecting for a long time. I am one of those who gingered them to hold the South-West security summit that led to Amotekun. I can say authoritatively that Yoruba people are very happy with this initiative.
Anybody criticising it is either a sadist or does not value life. Amotekun is not the same with state police that we have been demanding before now. Amotekun is like someone with a fever that requires first aid treatment otherwise you may not have the chance to administer full treatment. We wanted state police but in the absence of that, something must be done. State police is a constitutional issue that would involve the process of amendment of the Constitution.
But a security outfit that will be controlled by governors is necessary now. We know from the intelligence report available to us that the Yoruba nation has been highly infiltrated. We have been infiltrated all over South-West by criminals, especially from external forces from Niger, Chad, Mali and even our people who are criminals. The issue of security threat in the South-West goes beyond herdsmen. We also have it on good authority that some Yoruba people are collaborating with these criminals. As the Aare Onakankanfo, I am interested in the Amotekun, not because of what I want to get. We may differ politically but what our governors are doing right now with regards to Amotekun is in the interest of the entire Yorubaland and we must support them.
There is a limit we must play politics with our lives. The issue on the ground now requires that we, Yoruba, should allow God to use the present governors to secure our land. The buck stops on the table of the governors and also on me as Aare Onakankanfo of Yoruba land. I am not supporting the idea because of personal gain but what it will bring to Yorubaland. I am not even in government.
There is a limit we must play politics with our lives. My traditional position requires me to ensure that Yorubaland is secure. I may not know much about the technicalities but the DAWN committee is there to handle that. There was a committee set up and controlled by the DAWN Commission, it has about 30 people and they are in charge of the technicalities. All the security advisers to the six-state governors are there in the committee, there are retired police and SSS officers and even there are strong criminology lecturers among the committee members.
The difference between Amotekun and private security outfits is that government controls it, therefore, it is well planned; it will be legitimized; so we have to encourage the governors to start first and I think, with time, it will be upgraded. With time, they will put their house in order, because, within just one month, criminals will relocate, they will know that South-West is no longer a safe haven for them. I can tell you authoritatively that some ugly incidents are happening in the South-West and the media is playing down because you don’t want to create panic in our region.
So against all odds, we have to support this Amotekun initiative.
You have talked about Amotekun. What exactly is the solution to insecurity?
Amotekun is a temporary way of solving the problem, even state police, without restructuring is not ideal. State police is a component of true federalism. If we want to solve our problems, we should solve it once and for all. Restructuring is allowing the federating units to have autonomy.
Let the component units develop at their pace, let the federal remain in Abuja. Abuja should control the Army, Navy, Airforce, Department of State Security Service, DSS, federal police, Nigeria Civil Defence and Security Corps and other relevant agencies at the federal level. The region should have its regional and local government police. We have options for restructuring in Nigeria but the federating units should be given autonomy.
Assuming the federating units were given autonomy, Nigeria would not be as worse as this. Nigerians would have a good country if the federating units were given autonomy to run their units. If we don’t restructure Nigeria we are wasting our time.
There are issues surrounding the recruitment process of personnel. The Director-General of the DAWN Commission said illiterates will not be members of the outfit. How do you react to this?
The illiterates in OPC are about 20 to 25 per cent; the elites are not up to five per cent. It is the grassroots people that would stay in the sun and be campaigning for you; the elites are there for strategy. 95 per cent of the followers of any political party are stack illiterates. The three groups that we want to use are very important, psychologically 90 per cent are illiterates and if you bring any other group, it won’t work. It is only the people who are being deprived that can lay down their lives, those who benefit from the system cannot lay down their lives.
There are fears that the outfit may be used for the 2023 general elections…
Anybody that wants to contest should come out in 2021. If I start talking about 2023 now, it would amount to distraction.
Were you carried along during the process of setting up of the outfit?
I was not deeply carried along.