The upsurge in the activities of bandits, especially in the North has been giving Nigerians sleepless nights with several people suggesting how to curb the menace. The matter took a new twist when Zamfara state governor came up with the issue of amnesty for the bandits, In this interview with MIKE ODIAKOSE a chieftain of the APC and security expert, Jackson Lekan Ojo maintained that there is more than meets the eye in the role the Zamfara state governor has been playing on the issue of bandits and should be investigated by the federal government.
Recently there was mixed reaction to the quit notice given to herders by the Ondo state governor. Some people are of the view that that order exacerbated tension in the country. What is your take on this?
Akeredolu that I heard very well said whosoever that wants to operate in the games reserve situated in Ondo state to register with the government so that they can take a roll call of those people. In a situation whereby a landlord does not know the number of people in his house one day one of the tenants will go out to kill out and bring the murder weapon to his house.
When the weapon is traced to his house the house will be demolished and the name and personality of the landlord will be soiled. I think Akeredolu wants to procedural but it was misrepresented in the media. It is not right to evict the Fulanis or herdsmen from the southwest.
No! Governor Akeredolu himself knows that he does not have such powers because there is no man that can evict me or anyone from any part of this country. But then, can I just go to Sokoto State and operate any business there? What are they doing to the Yoruba and Igbo people that trade in alcohol in those areas? They’re destroying their businesses but nobody from the south has raised an eyebrow, probably because of their religion, which doesn’t permit it and when such businesses are being destroyed, the people go back home to farm.
There is a law that provides for fundamental human rights. For instance, I am from Imesile Ilobukun Local Government Area of Osun State but cannot go to Oriade which we even share the same federal constituency to do any illegal business in their forests.
Though, we are permitted to live in any part of the country but not unlawfully or illegally; not even in your house, when you’re not doing the right thing because it will be to the detriment of the family.
I don’t think Akeredolu has evicted those herders because he knows he doesn’t have such powers to evict any Nigerian.
As a member of the APC and the major issue, today in Nigeria revolves around insecurity. Are you not worried that this is what your party is giving to Nigerians?
Well, it’s not just being a member of the APC alone because even my friends from across the world like the United States of America and the United Kingdom where I belong to a security society are worried about what is happening in Nigeria, but I want to tell you today that the federal government is governed by the APC, is not sensitive to this issue of insecurity.
There are a lot of things but it is difficult to give insecurity solution on the media because the people that are financing it are informants who listen to the solutions and pass it to the criminals, which empowers that to prepare more.
I want to tell you emphatically that most of what is happening today is highly political because they weren’t happening before. We’ve had Boko Haram since about 10 to 15 years ago in the northeast but today, they have changed their strategies. We have very porous borders and the Fulanis of suburb countries can simply migrate into our territory.
There was a time I called before the war fight against the Boko Haramists and said there should be a very sensitive security institution to be formed by the government which will not be known to many because it’s not just all about words but intelligence. Do you only run to your farm if it’s being destroyed by animals?
No, because they will definitely escape. So what do you do? You must institute serious intelligence surveillance to wait for them at the right time so that you can attack them and that is the problem with this country.
We have not taken our time to find out the source of their information, communication, feeding, arms and ammunitions, and recruitment? Why can’t we get those that have been arrested to indoctrinate and reorientate them and use them as spies against the Boko Haramists or as espionage? They can even be given devices to record the activities of Boko Haram but all these strategies have not been employed, and you cannot fight a fire incidence if you don’t know the source of the fire.
The truth remains that we have not gone to the base of this issue. For instance, what is the capacity of the Boko Haramists that we are fighting; numerically, economically and how do they communicate? Gradually, they change tactics because they are also intelligent.
Initially, they came to destroy but now, some of them have reared their ugly heads into the northwest to the north-central and they are already in the southwest now and the southeast and just because people have lost confidence in the state, they have to take to self-help.
You heard what the minister of Defence who was a military giant has just said, that people should no longer be afraid of them, that they should help themselves. Gen. T.Y Danjuma, a global general, who had been Chief of Army Staff and Minister of Defence also said it some time ago that people should come out to defend themselves and if the president understands what the minister has said, he should know that it simply means we are not capable of facing these people, so please, face them yourselves but with what? The minister left that one as an open cheque because you cannot confront people carrying guns with blows.
I’ve gradually called the present government to hold a serious but secret security summit by inviting some people secretly to give recommendations from amongst the security experts like university dons, traditional leaders, serving or retired security officers, and other security agents whose recommendations would be followed strictly and people like National Security Adviser and other government authorities will sit down and look at it holistically which is better than showing your warfare strategies to the opponent.
The reason again why I said all these things are political is that the opposition party always criticises the situation across the country but what has been their solution and who knows where these things are coming from? There are some people in power within the opposition that we need to put serious surveillance on their movements and their communication system; the people who visit them and where they travel to. You can simply monitor them as government. Of course, nobody is saying you should just go and arrest a politician, no!
Even amongst the APC, there are some disgruntled elements that are not happy with the government. It is only in Nigeria that politicians are above security.
They rather praise them. In every part of the world, there are surveillance monitoring government officials but here, you are even above the law as a ward Chairman of any political party. That is why someone can simply go and commit an offense with a gun and a politician will just put a call through for his release. It’s really abnormal and all these things are built up, all those ravaging this country.
Most of the bandits are not the Fulanis of this country but from the suburbs because they have free access to this country. Why will the Fulanis that we’ve been living together for centuries suddenly change and begin to attack their host communities? I know a lot of them who even speak Yoruba fluently and I’ve even seen one that sang Fuji music well. So why will they just change one afternoon, which is a question we have not asked but just demonizing?
Do you want to tell me that a Fulani man can just go to the south and kidnap people without the connivance of criminal elements from those communities? But at the end of the day, they put it on the corridors of the Fulanis. So the Nigerian government must be sensitive and begin to track and trace the sources of their funding because how can a poor Fulani herdsman carry an AK47 which is very expensive? Where has he gotten it from? Then they load these guns with magazines. There is the principle of affordability but another is also the principle of availability but why is AK47 now so common in the country like dane guns?
Some governors have been in disagreement over this issue. For instance, governors of Kaduna, Niger, and the Zamfara States on the amnesty to these bandits. What is your take on this?
Well, one of the governors that I don’t like at all in this country is the governor of Kaduna State but over this issue, he is becoming my hero and I’ve begun to hope since he is still young by God’s power that we are going to have a bright future because he stood against the amnesty, saying, “what do you mean? Are they agitators, freedom fighters, or activists? No!
You call them bandits!” And a bandit is a chronic armed robber, the highest rank of criminality, a bandit wants to steal and believes that as he is going to be apprehended on the way and be killed, he is ready to demolish anything that will cause any hindrance to him and people like that you want to grant them amnesty? It’s madness, stupidity, an enormity. It’s like somebody coming to your house to attack you with a cutlass and you pay him money not to come back again but you have already empowered him to buy higher ammunition.
So I listened to the governors of Kaduna and Niger State and they condemned the amnesty in its totality and I want to tell you that I am surprised that the governor of Zamfara State, Matawalle, is both encouraging and doing it by giving armed robbers amnesty because there is no court of law anywhere in the world that will give armed robbers amnesty. It’s condemnation!
You might not go for maximum sentence but you may jail them for 25 years so that by the time they come out, they would be old and weak. By the time people know that 200 of them have been arrested and 180 of them have been convicted, they will know that you are actually setting a standard against them.
So now, I can just go to Zamfara State and say I’m a bandit then, they’ll give me 10 or 20 million and a Hilux which will further attract more bandits to that state. If somebody like that is granting amnesty to armed robbers, super-criminals, kidnappers, and rapists, then the Lagos kidnapper, Evans, should be granted immediate amnesty!
A question is, “Why is it that right now, there is no safe haven for the bandits in Katsina?
When they attack in Kaduna, they run to Zamfara. If they attack in Niger, they run to Zamfara, even in some parts of Sokoto like the Sabo Birni area, they still run to Zamfara and why is it so? They know that the governor is protecting them under the pretext that he is giving them amnesty, which means that he is paying people with a satanic mentality.
When they granted amnesty to the militants of Niger Delta, many of them were sent overseas for training and they are back because they were not there for robbery but rather to agitate against the environmental degradation of their areas which they insisted that the government must come to their rescue and immediately that was done, did you hear anything again? Were they bombing, killing people, or burning houses?
They had a cause and were only attacking oil installations but granting amnesty to bandits and terrorists is unheard of. Nigeria is home to any form of nonsense because in a normal clime, Gov. Matawalle should have been questioned and the House of Assembly, forced to impeach him so that he will lose his immunity and should be tried in court. Some of us can boldly tell you that he is the promoter of illegal gold mining in Zamfara State and for the miners to have uninterrupted operations, the bandits are there securing the illegal mining.
A governor from the northwest recently alleged that one of the governors from that region is the commander of Boko Haram but nobody has said anything because he is a governor and that is the truth because the chief promoter of granting amnesty to bandits today in Nigeria is Matawalle, the governor of Zamfara State. Mr. President should question him. Why will he allow amnesty? He should use military and police might to go and crush those criminals.
Recall when they kidnapped students in a Katsina State school, it was this same Gov. Matawalle that went for negotiations and at the end of the day, some people said they paid N300m but he claimed that he (Matawalle) paid N800m. Why will he quickly rush to go and pay that amount without the consent of Nigerians or how did he get their location? To me, as a governor, I will inform the security forces of the hideouts of such criminals for them to be wiped out.
Why are they killing Boko Haramists but sparing bandits on the other hand? What is the difference between them? They are a department of the Boko Haramists because Boko Haram is fighting the war while these bandits are coming to steal for them.
Today, the Boko Haramist doesn’t kill, kidnap or rape like the bandits are doing. So why is Gov. Matawalle protecting the bandits? He should be called to question because nobody is above the law, even when they say you have immunity, not criminal immunity.
There must be military, police and other security presence in Zamfara to arrest and destroy those criminals that he has granted amnesty to. They should torture and interrogate them intelligently and they will confess their sponsors but unfortunately, we have never done this because we are just fighting it on the surface. The federal government is just wasting time and money, fighting what this governor is encouraging.
Concerning the issue of Gov. Bala Mohammed, he stood in defense of Fulanis carrying AK47 around to protect themselves and recently countered his Benue counterpart, Samuel Ortom on security matters. What is your take on that?
Yes, Governors Ortom and Akeredolu attacked him and I also attacked him in a publication by Nation’ newspaper, as well as some other persons and I said it clearly there that in any profession, there are hazards, insecurity, or risks attached to them.
If Bala Mohammed felt in his own wisdom and his canvassing, trying to indirectly enact laws for Fulani herdsmen to be carrying AK47 about, then classroom teachers should also be allowed to be carrying the same ammunition to protect themselves and students in schools as a result of the constant kidnap of school children across the northwest and northeast.
Journalists have kidnapped here in Abuja an NTA staff and the other, a Punch Newspaper staff and they too should bear AK47s to secure themselves against attacks. Even the clerics should also purchase arms to protect their congregations, transporter, and every other person too.
Gov. Bala Mohammed, I think, is security illiterate, which is the reason why he could not understand that even no gun that is registered under the firearms law is not for self-protection. If you want self-protection, you should write to the Inspector General of Police and when they look at your profile, they can attach one or two police to you and that is what the law permits.
There is no IG today that will parade an AK47 if he’s not on a serious mission, likewise the military chiefs; except while in serious operations and even the president too cannot do such because there are people surrounding him to protect him.
So if the Fulani herdsmen require protection, they should apply and give reasons which will be verified by the police who will, in turn, attach securities to guard them while moving from place to place. Such security men can even be in plain clothes so that they won’t be noticed. But since these herders carry these weapons freely, everybody should be allowed to do the same too without licenses.
Bala Mohammed is riding to anarchy because he is breeding more criminals for the future because a child who does something bad but gets the backing of his father will keep repeating such acts.
Also, I am surprised when I saw the respected Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, mingling with all these criminals. How has he been locating them when the military with all its intelligence has not been able to locate them? The whole security agents are searching for the hideouts of all these criminals, only for the sheikh to be able to locate them and discuss with them and telling us that they should be granted blanket amnesty.
Oh! I weep for this country. If they want this country to remain a united nation, the federal government with the collaboration of all the major stakeholders and governors should work together because with this current form of security challenges all around, our economy will collapse.
As a leader, the first thing you do is to build security, so as to avoid insecurity and that is why other socioeconomic, socio-political, religious and all the aspects of people’s life can thrive enormously. But in a case where even the local businessman isn’t comfortable, what do you expect of the foreign business operators?
The only luck we have today, the fear of the Nigeria Delta militants is the beginning of wisdom and that is why you have not seen these herdsmen moving towards that region because they know that they will meet with the opposite force. And if these elements would have succeeded in rearing their ugly heads in the South-south, it would have sent expatriates packing and there won’t be oil production or import and export of petroleum products anymore in this country.
Now, the implication of the situation is that 80 percent of the agro produces are grown in the north but the farmers can no longer operate effectively and it is affecting the whole country now. Of course, we know that 99 percent of the beef we eat in this country is from the north but these foreign herdsmen have infiltrated and are creating tension amongst the real herdsmen and their host communities.
But to round it up, Gov. Matawalle should be questioned. The president should give orders for the security agents to face these people preaching amnesty like the bandits because they are wasting people’s money, sponsoring them because they are mining gold for him.
The government should look in that direction. That was why he was thinking of coming into APC because he thinks that if he comes to the party, his sins will be forgiven but the APC will not want such a wicked and satanic governor! No way. Some time ago, the governor of Rivers State said something. He said if Gov.
Matawalle would be mining his gold and spending the money from the natural resources in that state, then, the governors in the Niger Delta too should be mining their oil and be selling it but people started complaining that Gov. Nyesom Wike is a sectionist but he was only saying the reality and that was when the federal government should have supported Wike to fight Matawalle within the ambit of the law.
That was why he was thinking of coming into APC because he thinks that if he comes to the party, his sins will be forgiven but the APC will not want such a wicked and satanic governor!
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