Packaged by Samuel Adegoke and Faith Ijeh
Iba Gani Adams is the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land. His men recently arrested the dreaded Isikilu Wakili in Ibarapa area of Oyo State. In this interview with the Your View team of TVC on Monday March 15, 2021, he revealed how much intelligence information he has about operations of criminals in South West, including how bandits mining illegally in an Owo community, Ondo State receive food and arms supply through a helicopter. Adams said if only the federal and state governments would support unconventional security outfits, the criminals would be holed out of their hiding and sent packing from the region.
Do you have prove it was the real Wakili that was arrested and what about the concern about the health of his eyes
Wakili walked into the vehicle with his two legs and sat with the people that arrested him. Although one of the suspects said that he went to Benin Republic to go and examine his eyes, three days before his arrest, but I’m telling you authoritatively that Wakili was behind all the criminal activities – kidnapping, maiming, killing, wanton destruction of property and farms of Yoruba people – in Ibarapa land. It was so clear when he was arrested that security agencies were trying to exonerate him from the crimes. When he was handed over to the Divisional Police Station in Igbo-Ora, they said they should take him to the hospital for treatment. When he got to Ibadan, he was taken to the hospital. In that regard, you know the kind of government we have at the centre. The police said it was not the real Wakili that we arrested but when we provided a lot of proof, they had to succumb to the statement of Oba of Ayete. The Oba of Ayete said this is the real Wakili that has been terrorizing us for the past six years. The Igangan community also made a statement affirming him as the real Wakili. Meanwhile, Wakili has a son who also bears Wakili, who is also involved in these criminal activities but the real Wakili that has been coordinating the activities and using his influence to cover those involved in the criminal activities is the Wakili that was arrested
I expected the police to have jumped on and celebrated you for aiding the capture of Wakili but somehow that was not what happened.
I know that. According to a lot of people, the issue of security officials, that is, the police are compromised with what happened after Wakili was released to the hands of the police and the arrest of three of our men.
What do you think about the situation? What exactly is happening in Nigeria and why can’t we solve the problem of insecurity?
I agree with you that some of our security agencies have been compromised and some time you won’t blame the security agencies because they are under a lot of pressure. The Commissioner of Police in Oyo State want to do a very good job and I can imagine the type of pressure that comes to her desk when Wakili was handed over to her. In the statement of a monarch in Ibarapa before Wakili was apprehended, there was a personality in the villa that called him that nothing should happen to Wakili, he called him directly but I wont mention that name yet. So, when you realize what is happening in Nigeria from the North East, North West and North Central, you will ask yourself do we have a security agency in this country. You will ask yourself what is happening in Nigeria because when we send our military men for peace keeping, they perform very well but when it comes to internal security of our nation, they fail to do the right thing. So Nigeria’s problem is highly compounded and it goes beyond the issue of security and that was one of the reason we are saying let us overhaul this country on the basis of the constitution that was given to us; let us restructure it so that all the federating units have their own security agency and the federal security will still remain, the police, SSS, army, navy and air force. By the time you remove competition within security agencies in Nigeria, definitely we will get it right. With one structure of policing, with our population, with our diversity, it will be extremely difficult for the Nigerian police to perform because in the country with a population of 200 million, there’s no way one structure of policing can be highly effective. Let’s compare with the US, with population of about 300 million plus, the US security structures have nothing less than 10 different policing, even some universities have their own policing, the train station has its own. They have the FBI, state police, county police in the US and Britain, the population that is not even up 80 million, you have metropolitan police, Scotland yard, there are different types of police. South Africa has a country that just got their independence in 1994, they have federal police and state police but in Nigeria because of the way they manipulate federal police, they do not want the governor to have state police. As a Nigerian, with the peculiarity of crime, I believe we should have federal, regional, state police and local government police. If we continue with this structure of police, there’s no way we can have sincerity and there’s no way we can have a genuine way to apprehend criminals.
Based on what you just said, the Amotekun has been launched for over a year now, will you say that the results are not obvious because of the Sasa crisis that happened and several other crises that happened continuously?
Well, Amotekun is not even state police because the Federal Government has not announced state police yet. Amotekun is just like someone who has typhoid and you are using paracetamol because Amotekun is just an outfit and the South West governors requested from the National Security Adviser that Amotekun carry a true pump action, not even AK47 but the Federal Government refused to allow them to carry pump action for security purpose. How can you have a security outfit that is armless to face all these dangerous criminals in our country? In Uwe village, Owo, there are bandits residing in the forest mining our gold. The information we got on our desk is that a helicopter will come and drop foods and arms to them to protect them so the community doesn’t chase them away. And in Ilesa, similar thing is happening but we don’t have the information that an helicopter is dropping foods and arms for them in Ilesa and Ile-Ife. Most of our communities that have solid minerals, illegal things are happening in the areas, don’t forget the genesis of the security threat that happened in one of the most peaceful zones before which is North West, was a result of mining gold in Zamfara. The miners empowered themselves with illegal arms and at the end of the day they constituted nuisance, from mining they upgraded to kidnapping and from there they called them bandits.
Have there been a formal report about the illegal mining to the police, DSS or even the military?
I have written a lot of letters to the security agencies and one of the information given to them is that of the kidnappers, criminals in our communities, it was what led to the arrest of the suspect who killed the daughter of Chief Fasoranti. I have issued a lot of statements on the destination of criminals in this country and when you go there, you will meet them there because I wont tell lies to our people and I wont tell lies to Nigeria. I was not brought up to be a liar, I was not brought up to give out fallacy to the people. Even two weeks ago, I wrote a letter to all the South West governors that I wanted an audience with them so I can give them more information of what I heard as the Aare Ona Kakanfo. Although Aare Ona Kakanfo constitutionally is not a security chieftaincy title, but in our history, he is the defence minister of the entire Yoruba race. So, definitely I have a role to play to support the role of the government agencies and the governors. I have written a letter to them and so far only one has granted the request. That will show you the non-chalant attitude of the people in authority because when you have someone who said they want to talk to you about security, whether you like the face of that person or not, you have to give him an audience and listen. So I have been trying my best, I don’t keep quiet on talking about the issue of security and I was not paid for it, I was not even expecting salary, I was not given a contract but what I believe is that service to the people is one of the issues that God loves.
About 15-18 years ago, OPC were our major source of security. But now we seem not to see OPC at that same level. We now have Amotekun. There is also the vigilante group of Nigeria who are also empowered to protect. My question is what exactly can OPC do constitutionally as a security apparatus for the Yoruba race to reduce insecurity within our region?
The Aare Ona Kakanfo is not supposed to be the leader of only one group. Even though conventionally you are not the leader of all groups in Yoruba land, you have to relate with all groups either you are recognized as a beacon or honorary leader of that group. So definitely with the capacity I have now, I go beyond the leadership of OPC and then the Yoruba leaders have given me an assignment to bring all the relevant local security groups together so that they can complement the efforts of many communities in Yoruba land and the government. We name that organization South West Security Stakeholders Group and we have written letters to all council of Obas in the local governments and prominent paramount rulers in all states and our decision is that we are ready to work with you. So, we made all these groups together to back up the efforts of the security agencies. What can OPC do? OPC can do wonders but the major impediment in our way is the sincerity behind the activities of our security agencies because we realized that the major damage to the image of OPC between 2000 and 2005 was as a result of insincerity. The police saw that we were doing their job for them and that the OPC was trying to outshine them in terms of security so they descended on us. If you go back memory lane, check the media, the year that we first lost our image was between 1999 and 2005 because OPC was determined to get rid of criminals from the South West, and we started that job very well until when police started arresting our members and parading them with false charges of possession of illegal arms and then call us unlawful organization, someone that is assisting them in the society. So, we encountered a lot of problems in that regard. When we have a situation like that, the national committee council of the group then said if the community doesn’t invite you, don’t go and fight criminals or get involved in any activity. Although the decision was not an easy decision, but image matters in anything you are doing. Assuming we continued the way we operate, I might not become Aare Ona Kakanfo now because we had to be very, very careful. No matter where you are, if you don’t have a good character, you cant be their leader. We had to be very careful but now the decision has gone out of control and there are a lot of people that always say ‘ki ni Aare n se?’ (what is Aare doing?) Some of them forgot that the power the Aara Ona Kakanfo had in the olden days is limited now because we have the constituted authority. The monarchs have lost their authority since 1914 when we had the amalgamation from Lord Luggard and lost the authority again when we gained independence in 1960. Before you proceed to get involved in any security activity of any area, you must seek the blessing of the governor of the state, the local government and you must have a very good relationship with the commissioner of police, area commander and the DPO and the monarch must support you. If you don’t go through this process, even if you do a very good job, you will enter into trouble. And if not that the Wakili issue has been in public knowledge, we could have been in trouble, because people know what Wakili has done in Ibarapa, even though he hasn’t been declared wanted. When Wakili was arrested, the police in Oyo State wanted to twist the story that it wasn’t Wakili we arrested and then the people in the community said this is the Wakili we are talking about.
Concerning insecurity, all the governors have had meetings in recent times, were you in anyway invited to these meetings or did they have any conversation with you? Did they acknowledge your letter and who is talking to you specifically?
I was not invited to any meeting and people started calling me that why should they hold that kind of meeting without inviting Aara Ona Kakanfo but they have their own reason for not doing that and after any of the meetings, you see new criminal activities. You know Yoruba is a race that we don’t easily agree and everybody has his own path. It will be very difficult for an oba who sits on the throne to be involved in security issues. Oba can just coordinate. The role of oba is to administer his own community. The role of Aara Ona Kakanfo traditionally is about the defense of Yoruba land but it has always been funny to our governor that anytime they meet, they won’t invite Aare Ona Kakanfo. I have a different way of operating; I have a structure that we can use to operate and I have an influence to talk to the people and advise them on the issue of security. They forgot that apart from intelligence report going to the governor, people trust me, they give me intelligence report on what is happening in Yoruba and beyond Yoruba land but when you don’t invite me I wont divulge the information to you. We are trying everything we can to complement what they are doing.
Before Sunday Igboho came into the picture, Miyetti Allah was blowing hot and cold, they were speaking a lot of negativity out there, saying a lot of things about how they have the right to do open grazing in various communities. Then Sunday Igboho came and we know what happened. Recently Wakili was captured and handed over to security operatives. Few days after, Miyetti Allah in Ondo State, said please we want peace, we are now willing to accept ranching instead of open grazing and we don’t want any issue with the farmers. Do you think we are beginning to have a change in Miyetti Allah’s utterances in recent times ?
Well, I think the statement of Ondo State Governor bridged the unnecessary arrogance in them. I must commend the efforts of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu. He was the first governor that said he doesn’t want them in the reserve forests and that statement triggered a lot of issues in the South West. That statement led to a meeting of the entire South West governors with the Miyatti Allah. At the meeting, the governor insisted that open grazing was banned and anyone who wants to be involved in cattle rearing should be in ranches and that was how Miyatti Allah succumbed. I don’t know what Miyatti Allah wants in South West because when the governors were in the process of setting up Amotekun, there were a lot of unwarranted statements from them against Amotekun. A tenant in a house is challenging the landlord that he should not secure his house in his own way. The landlord can decide to secure his house. When you are challenging us on the way we arrange our security, it amounts to arrogance in any society. You can’t see any Yoruba person challenging any North West governor on how to arrange their security, so we had to caution the way Miyatti Allah was being arrogant to us. Yorubas are not coward, this is a race that has been in existence for more than 10,000 years and we have a very strong history and one of the best empires in the world. Oyo empire was uninterrupted for 600 years, we have a strong history that any race can not just talk to us anyhow. They always mention OPC and I wonder what problem they have with OPC and our groups don’t call them names. They are business people, they have their right to do their business if they are doing it lawfully and legitimately. Yorubas are highly accommodating and we don’t harass any ethic group.
Because of the role that you have now, your interest seems to be very regional and as a country we are much more. Nigeria has several other tribes as a country, shouldn’t your goal be to work with other states and not just a regional interest?
Let me tell you, charity begins at home. Politics started from local and anything that will hold Nigeria starts from local. If a state commits an atrocity, it can destroy the entire image of Nigeria.
You said your people used bullet proofs when they were attacked with foreign guns by Wakili’s people. What sort of bullet proof, is it the traditional bullet proof? Is there a way that security agencies and people who have issues in their own localities can get some of these bullet proofs to be able to protect themselves?
I am a Yoruba person and I will continue to be a Yoruba person. Let me just give you a very good example. If you ask the police to bring their bullet proof vest, when you tear that vest with blade, you will see a white substance; that white substance is an antidote to bullet that is coming. So, we probably have our own traditional way and this is not about religion. There is a difference between religion, culture and tradition; each one of them helps in their own way. Religion is how you want to get to the heaven and how you want to be righteous and our culture is our way of life while our tradition is the stool of our monarch and way and manner we govern our community. So, talking about Yoruba defence, that’s part and parcel of our system from the time immemorial. Some good Yoruba security agencies use their own to defend themselves in the job. So, when you are talking of OPC, only 40 of our people went to that community. That community has a population of about 800 people. If not because of our own way of defence, they could have wasted those 40 people because they saw them coming from afar at 4:15am and they aimed at them with different guns. When they realised the resistance of these 40 people, they had to escape. I have never seen that kind of operation before. Wakili and the people in that place have more than 1000 cows and the community where Wakili resides is about three hours to Igangan. You can’t get to that place if you aren’t a brave person. Most of the people that were kidnapped, that is the place they took them to. They hide them there and request for the money they will collect. So, when they saw them coming at 4:15am, they started raining bullets on them but when they saw the resistance, some of them were on top of trees, hiding as Wakili’s security. When they saw that the people are using what they have with them, they used the cows to shield themselves and started running. And we gave instructions to them not to kill their cow or anybody for that matter. Don’t destroy their business. They have to escape with their cows and move to Benin Republic. Where Wakili is staying in the forest us just 20 minutes away to Benin Republic. It is easier for them to even buy arms from Benin Republic to do their operation.
After Wakili was arrested, the very next day, some men came to kill local police. If we are saying that he is the one that masterminds all these attacks, how come those people who actually killed these local police were able to do so even after Wakili was captured?
That was the son of Wakili, Abu Wakili. He was one of the people that escaped when Wakili was about to be caught. When his father was arrested, he came to a village close to their community and matcheted four people to death. Those four people were sleeping and two of them were people recruited to give police information. They are native of Igangan and four of them have been buried last Monday. That was a day after the arrest of Wakili. If the police cooperate with us, within three days, we will apprehend Abu Wakili. But what the police authority did on the issue of Iskilu Wakili psychologically demoralised them. These are the kind of authority we want to work together with to sanitise this country, we want to complement their effort to ensure we have a safe country called Nigeria.
What exactly do you need and how can the government and police work with you?
Just cooperation, we need their cooperation. Don’t forget that we have structures in 98 per cent of the communities in South West. Even we have Yoruba people who joined OPC in the North. We have structures in about 28 states in Nigeria. Not even only the strength of OPC now, we have combined the strength of other relevant groups on security. We are talking of the hunters, vigilantes, Agbekoyas and other groups. We have combined them together to complement the efforts of the security agencies. What we need is for the security agencies to give confidence that they are sincere to reduce insecurity in Nigeria because there is no country that can eradicate insecurity totally. There is no country without crime but the efforts of the citizens and security agencies can do wonders. So, we need their cooperation. We need the cooperation of the governors. I will appeal to the governors that they should not play politics with security, it is very dangerous. The primary responsibility of the governors is to make sure lives and property are safe. That is the number one assignment of any governor, that’s why the constitution says they are the chief security officer of their state, though they did not give them the power. We need the cooperation of traditional rulers because some traditional rulers have relationship with them. We are not saying they are relating with criminals, but some traditional rulers relate more with some of the Fulanis and these Fulanis won’t even divulge information to them about the criminals in their midst. And we are appealing to northerners who are residing in Yoruba land that any criminal among them, they should make sure they pass the information to the security agencies, monarch of the community and they can pass the information to us. We still have some northerners that I relate with, I am not a person that stigmatize any Fulani living in our area. We have a lot of Yorubas living in Kano. We have Oba Yoruba ruling Yorubas in Kano. Definitely, we are not acting on the basis of tribalism and sentiments. We want to have a nation that we can be proud of. We can’t have a nation we can be proud of if this country is not regionalized. Let us go back to how we got independence in 1960 that we allow the federating units to develop at their own pace. The issue of security is just one out of 10 contents that will make Nigeria great. All the 10 contents can be infused into our governance when we allow regionalism to work.
What are your thoughts on Sunday Igboho and how’s your relationship with him?
Our relationship is very cordial and I am very sure we’ll meet on Wednesday again in Ibadan. Sunday Igboho is a brave person among the brave people we have in Yoruba land. As the Are Ona Kakanfo, to succeed in your reign, you have to discover the brave people you have in different localities. Sunday Igboho is one of the brave people we have and I will appeal to him that he should continue in that regard but he should be very careful with some of our politicians that will play into his heart because Yoruba people love him now. He should continue the way he is doing.