•Security of Yorubaland now goes beyond Amotekun
By Dapo Akinrefon
Iba Gani Adams is the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland. In this interview, he speaks on the recent attack in Owo which left over 40 people dead. He calls on South-West governors and traditional rulers to collaborate with non-state security organizations to flush out criminals from the region, warning that terrorists have infiltrated the South-West.
About a year ago, you said the South-West had been infiltrated. Is the Owo attack part of what you were thinking about?
We held a meeting in my sitting room on the platform of all non-government security organizations known as South-West Security Stakeholders’ Group and I gave them the information at my disposal that terrorists have not only infiltrated but besieged Yorubaland, they have besieged our forests. In that regard, we issued a statement calling on governors, traditional rulers and other stakeholders in Yorubaland to prepare to defend their communities against terrorists. These terrorists are also sinking in Yorubaland in large numbers and we urged everybody to be security conscious.
It was surprising that despite the alarm I raised, no governor or traditional ruler called to proffer ways of tackling this menace. We also informed them that most of the commercial motorcyclists popularly known as Okada in Yorubaland are not Nigerians. They are terrorists from Mali, Chad and Niger Republic.
The security alert led the Lagos State government to ban okada in six local governments. Notwithstanding, there must be synergy between the government and non-government security organizations. If that does not happen, it will be difficult to achieve our aim of securing the SouthWest.
Did you envisage the Owo attack?
There is a forest in Owo which is mainly occupied by close to 3000 terrorists. They usually mine gold and other mineral resources there without government approval. Information at my disposal said that a helicopter usually goes to the forest and dumps arms to these terrorists.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State is a radical governor, he is a fighter and he has done his best in the area of security but he can’t do more than that. Unfortunately, the body language of the Federal Government is what we don’t understand. The safety of the citizenry goes beyond the governor of a state though he is the Chief Security Officer of the state. Akeredolu must be commended for being one of the governors that championed Amotekun and the anti-grazing law. But I suspect that the attack was deliberately done in Owo to punish him.
The Federal Government fingered ISWAP as the mastermind of the attack…
I must commend the Federal Government for coming out, to tell the truth. They realized that Owo attracted international condemnation.
The attack is callous. It was an act of terror, capable of creating religious war. No country engages in a religious war and survives.
Again, you cannot compare the South with the North in terms of religious tolerance. The South is multi-religious and we don’t fight ourselves based on religion.
What do you think was the motive for the Owo attack?
The motive has been on the ground for a long time. First, we believe it was politically motivated. We also believe some northerners are looking for expansion. They want to expand their territory to the South.
When you see a Yoruba man living in the North, you will not see or hear him slap a northerner. He will abide by the laws of the land. Unfortunately, some northerners will come to Yorubaland, make money here and will be trying to intimidate or kill us. You cannot win the war. They can start the war but they may not have a good finishing.
For instance, when you go to Agege, you have some northerners who have been living there for years and they coordinate themselves.
But you see some northerners, who just got there will start fomenting trouble.
Some northerners have been imported to destabilize Yorubaland and that is a major problem.
Are you collaborating with the South-West governors and monarchs to tackle insecurity in the region?
I have done my best since I became the Aare Onakakanfo but I was surprised that people are asking about what I am doing.
I wrote to the South-West governors that there must be a South-West security conference. One and a half years after my installation, the South-West security conference was organized in Ibadan.
The conference gave birth to a think-tank committee which led to the formation of Amotekun. When the outfit came on board, the governors did not have the political will to start it. I was one of the leading voices in the creation of Amotekun because the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice did not want it to happen. I wrote an open letter informing him that we have the right to establish the outfit. What we are saying is that the security of Yorubaland now goes beyond Amotekun. All hands must be on deck.
The governors have to carry us along as non-government private organizations because the number of Amotekun operatives they recruited can no longer meet up with the challenges in the states. These people have infiltrated us. Apart from the men on the ground, we also need to look at information dissemination.
What security lapses have you noticed in the South West?
Amotekun must have a forest guards department because I noticed that Amotekun only operates in the urban area.
They should have a department of forest guards and they will be permanent in the forest so they can monitor what goes on in the forest. Most of the criminals now hide in the forest, especially in our reserved areas. All criminals in our forests must be flushed out.
Also, parents must talk to their children because the growing number of secret cults is alarming. About 15 to 20 percent of our youths have joined secret cults and these cultists are causing more harm to us than the external criminals.