By Tola Gbadamosi
Chairman of the Western Nigerian Security Network and the Ondo State Commander of Amotekun Corps, Akogun Adetunji Adeleye has described the Federal Government’s decision to declare bandits as terrorists as a welcome development.
He assured that the Corps will do the needful in conjunction with other security agencies towards ensuring that the terrorist groups are defeated.
The Amotekun boss spoke in an exclusive interview with The Hope at the Corps Headquarters in Akure, the Ondo State capital.
The development was the aftermath of a ruling of the Federal High Court in Abuja in November, ordering the federal government to declare the activities of Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda bandit groups as acts of terrorism.
The court ordered the federal government to give effect to the declaration by publishing it in its public gazette.
Umar Gwandu, spokesperson for the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, shared a copy of the official gazette with journalists.
It was also revealed, that other related groups are also declared by terrorists, by virtue of the publication.
In a notice of proscription order as contained in the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette dated November 29, 2021, volume 108, “The activities of Yan Bindiga Group, Yan Ta’adda Group and other similar groups in Nigeria are declared to be terrorism and illegal in any part of Nigeria, especially in the North-West and North-Central Regions of Nigeria and are proscribed pursuant to sections 1 and 2 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011.
Speaking further, Chief Adeleye said the Corps has been able to keep the state safe by the adequate implementation of the Anti- Grazing law signed by the Akeredolu-led administration.
“It’s not really about how many people we have arrested. We assured the good people of Ondo state of a safe yuletide festivities and to the glory of God, we were able to ensure that throughout those periods, criminal activities by hoodlums were kept at bay.
“In one or two instances we had security breaches they were all arrested and brought to book I will give God Almighty all the thanks because it cannot be us, it’s God.
“In the same vein, I would also like to commend the Akeredolu-led administration for giving us an enabling environment and the needed supports at all times to actually secure the people of Ondo State, its environs and their property.
“The entire border patrol which was part of Phase 7 of our “Operation Clean Up is being sustained by the government of Ondo state to ensure that the border and the state are highly protected from bandits and we appreciate the state government for such gesture”, he said.
The Security expert also hinted that the enforcement on the ban on use of unregistered vehicles, tinted glass vehicle without permit and the abuse on the restriction of okada operations at night, reduced criminal activities by 80 percent in Ondo state.
“In every control point, we have members of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and the police joining Amotekun to enforce this restrictions in compliance with law and order.
“Initially, the people were apprehensive and not too happy about the development, until they realized that it was for their good.
“Again, within the first 15 days of manning all major junctions and entry points leading to the state capital and all local government headquarters, we were able to arrest 550 vehicles as well as over 600 suspects.
“After thorough investigations and screenings, we brought about 45 of them to book through court rulings.
“We discovered that criminal activities in the main towns went down completely, built travelers started having problems and that was why we embarked on border patrols and you will recall that within forty eight hours of the commencement of the border patrol, we were confronted by armed robbers and kidnappers and that singular operation, we rescued about 17 victims in two separate operations which we brought to Akure and also released over 60 vehicles that were captured.
In another successful feat, the Corps rescued a Lagos/ Kaduna bound truck loaded with goods worth over N50 million that was hijacked and driven to the bush .
According to him, the driver and the occupants were taken to the kidnappers’ den.
“Our men moved in and we were able to rescue all the victims with minimal wounds from the kidnappers and we recovered all the goods. The only thing that were lost were minor personal effects and some little cash from the victims and at that point, we united them with their families.
The Amotekun boss narrated that since the operational base between Osun and Ondo Amotekun is in Ondo State, most of the recovered vehicles were brought down to the Corps Headquarters in Akure.
“The moment we confirm the genuine owners, we release their vehicles to them and the trucks conveying the goods were brought to our operational base in Akure for us to confirm the genuine owners.
“Since we couldn’t get the driver of the truck and its occupants, we had to tow the vehicle down to Akure.
” The following morning when we went back into the bush and were five able to get the conductor of the vehicle about 5 miles away from the main road and further search on the third day led us to recover the driver and other occupants who have lost their way.
“We brought all of them and demanded for proof of ownership, this took us some few days before the goods were released to the owners after we were satisfied that they are the genuine owners,”he narrated.
Since the commencement of the border patrol, we have been engaged in more than 30 occasions by criminal elements between Ife and Akure but we are determined to sustain the peace being enjoyed by our people.
“Initially, we planned to end the bother patrol activities and “Operation Clean Up phase 7 by the second of January, but based on security situation, we decided to extend it a little after which we will now go ahead and review the security situation in the state with our sister agencies which include the police, the DSS, the NSCDC and thereafter, take the next step.
On the recent apprehension in the state, following Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s disclosure that soldiers have been withdrawn from the correctional centers, the Commander assured the people of Ondo state that Amotekun and other sister agencies would take control of the situation.
“You will agree with me that the correctional center are part of the federal government critical assets and the responsibility of the modern security agencies include provision of security to such facility, so as soon as that incident took place, the Nigerian police force and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps immediately deployed their men to all the correctional centers.
“Based on our knowledge of local security, local intelligence, members of the Amotekun Corps, as directed by the Governor, were also detailed to go along with them and this is to ensure that there is no vacuum.
” So as we talk now, all the correctional centers are being manned by officers and men of the Nigerian police force, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and Amotekun Corps,”he stated.
He appreciated the people of the state for their useful and timely information which have continued to assist the Corps in bursting crimes.
“I want to give kudos to the good people of the state for their supports, especially in terms of quality and timely information upon which we respond in mere zero minute to all their distress calls. We thank them and we seek their cooperation, we have been telling them that security is not the business of the police, the army, the Civil Defence and Amotekun alone, it’s everybody’s business and it starts from noticing your immediate environment.
“Criminals don’t live in heaven, they live among us, kindly expose them. We have our distress line number which remains 08079999989 and all information so far are on this line are being treated with strictest confidence such that the source of our information can never be disclosed.
So, to the good people of Ondo state, we want to reassure them of our commitment to zero tolerance to crime in the state and the South West in general.