Thursday, 23 May, 2024


How Ondo Amotekun arrested busload of bandits with sacks of guns, other weapons – Commander

The Commander of the Ondo State Security Network Agency also known as Amotekun, Chief Adetunji Adeleye, speaks about the recent activities of the corps in tackling banditry in the state in this interview with PETER DADA

It has been over a year since Amotekun was created in Ondo State, can you give a summary of the achievements of the corps in terms of tackling insecurity in the state?

When we came on board, the trend in the town at that time was everyday kidnapping, everyday burglary, everyday armed robbery on major roads and it was almost becoming impossible for anybody to go to farm. Then we had incessant fight between herders and farmers. So, when we came on board as an agency, we commenced with mass public enlightenment of farmers and herders for the two groups to know their positions, their rights, what they should do and what they should not do in case of an emergency. Within two weeks of doing that we received over 1,000 petitions from farmers from across all the 18 local governments of the state. So, we progressed into enforcement. That was where the trouble really started. It was actually very difficult getting the herdsmen to comply with the law and stopping the wanton destruction of farmlands.

We were able to resolve about 40 to 45 cases, where we arrested cows and the herders and we brought them from afar to our head office in Akure. And we made these herders to sit for a round-table discussion with the farmers and they discussed at their level and these herders were made to pay for whatever they destroyed.

Again, we sought the assistance of the Miyetti Allah group because luckily, we arrested over 500 cows in one of the operations and the cows belong to members of the Miyetti Allah in Ekiti, Osun and Ondo states. So, I used that opportunity to bring the leadership of the Miyetti Allah in the three states to our head office and I insisted that until they signed an undertaking that they would talk to their herders to stop the destruction, that I wasn’t going to release the cows even after payment of compensation to the farmers.

Of course, they reasoned with me and we all had a round-table conference and came to an agreement. Primarily, I made them to understand that the farmers have a right to their farms while herders have a right to their cows. The two of sides are carrying out their private businesses and one should not destroy the other’s source of livelihood. And on all of such occasion we have made the herders to pay reasonable compensation for these destructions. Our major reason for doing that is to prevent food shortage. It was getting to a point when food security was highly threatened, because nobody was able to go to farm anymore for fear of being attacked by armed herders and kidnappers.

We moved into the forest to smoke out these kidnappers. And today, people have started going back to their farms. Kidnapping and armed robbery have reduced drastically. And in all the 18 local governments where we have launched Operation Clean-Up. I think we have substantially, positively impacted on the security situation of the state.

What is ‘Operation clean-up’ about?

As its name suggests, ‘operation clean-up’ is part of our security strategies to flush out criminals from this state. We have done three phases with success stories and now we have commenced the fourth phase and it will also be a success by the grace of God.

Recently, your men arrested a busload of bandits and recovered a large cache of assorted weapons, which you displayed for the world to see. How did you achieve this?

Based on intelligence, we were able to track three vehicles coming into Ondo State. We flagged one of them down but the driver refused to stop. We pursued the bus from Ondo road in Akure where he initially parked, before speeding off. We pursued the bus to Ondo town and arrested it after scaling four serious barricades. At the end of the day, we searched the vehicle and we found over 500 assorted weapons, including guns and knives.

Before the arrest, we found out that it was difficult pursuing the vehicle. We didn’t want to cause any accident, so we had to radio our station in Owena town. The security men in Owena mounted a roadblock. But when these criminals got to the roadblock, they hit the barricade and escaped. We continued to pursue them while we called the Ile-Oluji Junction that they should mount a solid roadblock. After that, we had a solid complete blockage before the Akure motor park  in Ondo town and we were able to apprehend the vehicle.

After arresting the suspects, what did they say their mission was in Ondo State?

They said that they were coming to Akure. The driver of the bus said somebody commissioned them from Kaduna State and that he didn’t know that the bags they claimed were filled with tiger nuts were actually loaded with weapons.  On opening the bags, we found about 500 different types and sizes of dagger and poisonous jackknives, cleverly concealed under the seats. When we asked them what they intended to do, they told us that they were just given instructions to go and that further instructions would be given to them.

How about the two other buses that escaped?

I don’t know; I can only talk about the one we arrested and I believe the two fleeing vehicles would not stay in this state; if they do, we will arrest them.

Is there a synergy between Amotekun and other security agencies?

For kidnapping cases, most of the time we work very closely with the DSS (Department of State Services) and when we want to go and carry out the actual operation, most of the time we enlist the assistance of the NSCDC and the police so that we go into the forest together. However, when we get into interior parts where policemen and the DSS operatives may not be able to enter because they are not familiar with the terrain, they wait while we go ahead, execute and come back to join them.

Still on synergy, we learnt that military men deployed in highways in the state have been withdrawn. How does this affect operations of Amotekun?  

I keep wondering why people are celebrating the withdrawal of these military men.  As long as there is no security vacuum in all the places the military men left (I don’t think there is any issue).  The police, whose statutory responsibility is that of internal security, have immediately taken over. So, I think what we should be concerned about now is the efforts of all the security agencies in ensuring that the Christmas period is crime-free and I think we are doing just that.

We have deployed our special forces to the boundaries now. The Amotekun corps in the South-West states has initiated a joint patrol on the major highways in order to tackle bandits at the boundaries and expressways. The joint patrol is to ensure that the highways are safe. When there is a security challenge anywhere along the highways or at the boundaries, we easily connect with one another.

Credit: PUNCH


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