Exclusive: We’ve settled over 500 farmers/Herders’ clashes —Ondo Amotekun
……..1st Anniversary: Why Ondo Amotekun Corps Is Rated Most Effective —Commander, Chief A. Adeleye
….In this Exclusive Interview, a Deputy Commandant-General (retired); Chief Adetunji Adeleye (FISN), who is the Corps Commander, Ondo State Security Network codenamed Amotekun Corps and Chairman, Council of Amotekun Commanders, shares with SUNSHINETRUTH New Magazine, how the state Security Network established one year ago has been putting smiles in the faces of residents amidst security challenges, ending incessant farmers/herders’ clashes in the state and his future Amotekun agenda.
You have been in the helms of affairs as pioneer commander of Amotekun Corps in the last one year of its existence, how is the journey so far?
Well, we thank God where He has led us to, it hasn’t been a very rosy journey as we have to go through a lot of troubles getting to where we are. When i came in, it was every minutes with (security) problems always with farmers and herders; kidnappings, armed robberies everywhere, so within the first few weeks of settling down, we came out with measures to checkmate various nefarious activities and substantially we have made alot of impacts to reduce criminal activities ranging from clashes between herders and farmers, cattle rustling, robbery, stealing, kidnapping and rape, across the board we have made tremendous impacts.
Sir, How did you reduce herders and farmers’ clashes to a bearest minimum in the state in the last one year?
You see, herders have the right as Nigerians to do their business likewise farmers, but in a situation where you take your cows to someone else farms to destroy the farm and humiliate such person you expect a reaction. Instead of this incessant quarrels, we were able to bring them to a round table discussion, majority of saw reasons with us, because we made them pay compensation for whatever is destroyed while some were charged to court. So that substantially brought down wanton destruction of farm crops by herders, now every herders in Ondo knows that they can’t do it with impunity again.
Recently, the Governor, Arakunrin Akeredolu gave a directive on registering of herders, especially those occupying the government’s forest reserves illegally. What is the situation and level of compliance with the directive?
The Government gave them the guidelines for registration and to date, only few of them had fulfilled the guidelines. So, that is why we are saying that they are occupying the forest reserves illegally and they should vacate the forest reserves. Right now, we don’t expect to have anybody there, anybody in the forest reserves of Ondo State is staying there illegally. Although some of them (herders) are making some moves to complete the registration formalities.
Do you have the statistics of herders/farmers clashes, the ones charged to court and the ones you resolved amicably?
Well, out of about 500 cases of farmers/herders clashes (in the last one year of creating Amotekun), we were able to resolve about 80% peacefully and only about 5% is what we have going to court now.
There was a particular period that criminals, kidnappers were terrorising travelers on the highway particularly on Akure-Owo road to Ifon/ Ose axis and Akoko area, how did you and other security operatives tackle this ugly trend and the roads are relatively safe now?
If you recall, sometimes in November (2021), when the situation really dearing, Amotekun (corps) embarked on operation clean up and what operation clean up does is to go to nitty-gritty and crannies of these criminals’ hideouts and smoke them out, so we started with the State Capital, we went to all black spots, made over 400 arrests.
Then we went to all (the 18) Local Government Headquarters, we now concentrated on the Northern Senatorial district where we had such criminal elements. We embarked on 24 hours patrol, we engaged the services of local hunters, vigilantes and other (security) volunteers to join our men and we patrol the forest. So, substantially, we are able to drive them out of the forests (on the highways).
In recent times, you find out that most of the kidnapping cases we have lately are in the border areas (around Akoko/Ose areas), knowing fully well that we will not operate in Kogi, Edo, so they strike in a place that is closer to Ondo State borders and run away (to neighbouring states), that is the situation now and we are also looking for how to checkmate (the kidnappers and other criminals).
What is your collaboration with other security agencies like Army, Police to checkmate this cross borders crimes?
Generally, you remember that the law setting up the (Amotekun) corps put part of our responsibilities as complimentary services to all security agencies, so in almost all our operations, we ask for their assistance and they have been giving us assistance, so we do most of these operations together and we report to them when we need services (of their men) and they are gladly rendering.
Recently, Ifon has been a black spot in Ondo State, what have you been done to handle this situation, only recently, the APC Secretary in Ose and the Olufon, a first class Monarch were gruesomely killed in the area?
You will observe that around Ifon, there are a number of military checkpoints around the place, so I think the military is trying to checkmate those activities, even though we compliment what they are doing, but you will observe that there are military checkpoints on that road to tackle criminal elements.
What is your advice/appeal to other security agencies that sees Amotekun as a kind of rival?
We see all other conventional security agencies as mothers for Amotekun. Don’t forget Amotekun is a baby of necessity, so they should see us (at Amotekun) as their baby and continue to assist us in stabilizing the security architecture of the State.
Ifon community recently protested peacefully, any assurance or message for them from your agency?
Ose Local Government generally is being identified as a core area where we put our searchlight and we have mapped out security strategies to checkmate the activities of these bad people. Ose local government area has boundary with Edo and Kogi and it offers an easy access way out but we are checkmating them.
What of Akoko area, particularly, Ajowa-Ifira axis?
All the four Local Governments in Akoko, we are getting ready for a massive onslaught against criminals in the four Local Governments, such that once we finish our clearance operation, there will be no criminal activities like before. You know there is no society that is crime-free.
One thing that is very common in our neighbouring states like Ekiti, is kidnapping of traditional rulers, what are you doing to prevent it from happening in our State?
We are not only preventing the traditional rulers from being kidnapped; As we talk now, we are preventing the traditional institution, schools, banks and commercial activities, we have plain clothes men on surveillance, we have people on regular patrol. Before they (kidnappers) strike or make a move, we are there to counter them in Ondo State.
With all these achievements, can you highlight your greatest challenges in the last one year?
Well, the challenges mainly that we have, it has to do with (sophisticated) equipment, we would have wanted to sit down here and have an area view of the entire state, if possible, we need the ICT. We are supposed to be at least some inch above what the criminals are doing. But right now, they are more sophisticated, the luck we have is the resilience of our men, their dedication and the grace of God, that is why we can face them. So the state government is doing alot to encourage us and our men, we would have wanted to be given (modern) equipment that would make us to match what the criminals are carrying.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu played prominent roles in setting up of Amotekun corps in the Southwest and even the sustainance of the security network, how can you described his efforts at ensuring peaceful society?
Well, His Excellency, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu (SAN) has been a wonderful person as far as his passion for protection of lives and property of his people are concerned. He doesn’t joke at all with safety and you also know that a safe environment is a catalyst for socio economic growth.
Hence, he (the Governor) gives all support to all security agencies not Amotekun corps again, all security agencies in the State, he supports to the extent to which the State could afford, all the activities of the security agencies, he is a role model in the protection of lives and property, as a Governor that I would want other leaders to emulate.
Ondo State Amotekun has been rated as the best so far in the southwest zone, have you gotten any offer to come and help them any other state in handling their local security?
The Governor (Arakunrin Akeredolu) had permitted me on several occassions to assist the region, the South West States in setting up the security architecture of their Amotekun Corps, and that is why we have been working together, my colleagues and myself have a forum where we rub minds, exchange ideas and we look for the way forward such that whatever happens in Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Ekiti we collaborate and resolve.
There was an issue of some bandits coming from outside the country through Oyo State border with other countries and you as the chairman of the southwest Amotekun Commander, what are you doing jointly?
Substantially, the commander in Osun and Oyo are working assidiously in checkmating the bandits’ activities, infact in the last one week, the commander of Oyo state has been in that axis and he was able to really drive them back to the neighbouring countries.
Recently, you recruited over 500 new personnel, how have you been coping to manage them amidst economic crunch?
That is one of the reasons I said we have to give kudos to the Ondo State government and our dear governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu. In the first instance, to train them substantially is not a joke and the State Government has funded it.
Again, the maintenance of the newly recruited officers is a thing that the State Government had taken up, by the first week of next month, they will be dispatched to their various duty posts in all the Local Government Areas in the State and I know the State is going to match their words with actions, especially in the areas of their monthly emolument and so on.
So I thank the State Government very much for keeping to their words and ensuring that its own side of the bargain is kept as far as their (officers) salaries and allowances. Right now, we are not owing any officer a day outstanding salary at Amotekun corps.
You recently unveiled Amotekun Agenda, what is it all about?
It was a ROADMAP design, after one year of successes, we now feel that we should let the public know what to expect in the next one year again. That is the roadmap to a stable Ondo State in the next one year and these were the things that were enumerated in the (agenda) book launch of roadmap; it is to ensure stable state and Southwest that is what we launched.
You talked about local hunters, OPC members, Vigilantes, are they also your men or you are collaborating with them?
There are two ways to it, we have volunteers from all spheres of life; those volunteers give us credible information in their various towns and villages in Ondo State, such that within minutes, we know what is happening in virtually in all local government area in the states.
So some of these people in the OPC, the FYCC, the vigilante group of Nigeria and so many others, they collaborate with us, some of them are our full officers, and now imbibed Amotekun culture.
As the Head of Ondo State security Network Agency (Amotekun), recently, the governor gave a directive to all Local Government Chairmen to set up vigilante system; What is the development about that?
We are compiling names, the directive of the Governor is to the Local Government chairmen is for them to bring up their local vigilantes under Amotekun, so that we can supervise and ensure that they do what is expected them.
What is the timeline for setting up the local govt?
Some of them have started working as well talk now, we have some Local Governments that are already working with us, we have trained some them but some of them are yet to submit their names, it is an on going thing.
What can you describe as the greatest achievements of Amotekun in the last one year?
Bringing relief to a lot of homes and families because the socio-economic growth of the state is improving as a result of the activities of the Ondo State security network agency (Amotekun).