A former Director, Directorate of Military Intelligence, Col Kunle Togun (retd.), saysvhat the national leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) should explain why it has been difficult for the party to implement the report of its committee on restructuring.
He also discusses those he feels should be recruited into Operation Amotekun, among other issues.
What is your view about the Western Nigeria Security Network known as Amotekun which was established by governors of the South-Western states?
I don’t see anything wrong in the Operation Amotekun. If the government at the federal level cannot protect the people and the governors of various states in the South-West came up with such arrangement, I don’t think it is wrong. The governors are trying to establish the outfit to protect their people because that is even the most important aspect of governance. They have to secure the life and property of their people and that is what they are doing.
You have always lamented that the South-West has been invaded by marauding herdsmen. Do you think this will help in curbing the alleged invasion?
Amotekun project is a right step. I believe if this is set up, there will be laws guiding its operations. Those governors setting up the security outfit are also aware of this problem and I know that they want to curb insecurity in the region. So, they should tackle anything making the people in the region to live in fear. The security outfit, I believe, will protect Yoruba people and their investments, especially in the region.
There are claims that these herdsmen who you said have invaded every part of Yorubaland have motives behind this. What do you think is their motive for this?
I have said this many times ago. I said it when I delivered a lecture in 2014 in Lagos that the entire Yorubaland has been invaded by these herdsmen. It is not hearsay. There is no village in the whole of Yorubaland where these herdsmen are not. They are all over the place. I don’t want to say this is their motive, but they have invaded every part of Yorubaland.
You accused some Yoruba traditional rulers especially in Oke-Ogun of inviting herdsmen and giving land to them. Are you saying this new security outfit will put an end to this?
The people that established Amotekun know what to do to address this type of problem.
Are you saying they should hold talks with these traditional rulers or what?
They don’t need to talk to them. By the time the law establishing Amotekun comes out and the law states clearly what constitutes an infraction, anyone who violates any of this will be punished according to the law. Anybody that violates the law should be dealt with.
Do you suggest Amotekun corps should bear arms?
Those establishing this security outfit are knowledgeable people. They know what should be given to them to make them effective. Those in the North do similar things. They give guns to theirs and nothing happens. They have their own security people in the North and those people are armed. I think they have in Bauchi, Kaduna and some states. There is nothing wrong about that.
Are you saying there is nothing wrong if Amotekun corps should also bear arms?
There is nothing wrong if Amotekun corps also carry guns and I know that the governors know what to do to make them carry guns. They cannot use automatic guns but there are the types of weapons they can carry. They can carry the normal single-barrel guns but I don’t know which type of gun they want to give them the permission to carry.
I established a vigilante group in the year 2000. We knew what we did to get our local government council which we were serving to get the guns for the vigilante. But the Amotekun are supposed to be trained by the police if they are given guns to operate. The local government procured the guns for the vigilantes.
Should Amotekun corps be for Yoruba people alone or do you suggest that non-Yoruba people living in Yorubaland could be recruited into the security outfit?
Why should they recruit somebody who is not Yoruba into Amotekun? Will non-Yoruba people be loyal to Yoruba if they are brought into the outfit? Why should anybody suggest them? It will be counterproductive. It is just like when you want to protect your house, your inheritance and you go and invite outsiders to come and do that. Does that make sense? It is not that there are no enough Yoruba to do this job. There are more than enough able-bodied, competent and loyal Yoruba youth who can be recruited into the Amotekun corp. You cannot vouch for the loyalty of non-Yoruba no matter how long they have stayed here. I don’t support that at all.
What type of training do you thing the Amotekun coprs especially those that will bear arm should undergo?
I don’t like wasting time. I know that those who established Amotekun know the kind of training that will be good for the corps and they know the type of work they want them to do.
Should they be profiled before they are recruited?
That is expected, but I should not be the one to tell them not to recruit criminals to come and do security job. They have people who are advising them and I am sure they know the right thing to do. They know that and they have criteria that those who they want to recruit must meet.
Some Boko Haram members who the Federal Government claimed had repented had been. Will this not compound the insecurity problem in the country?
Every Nigerian knows the answer to that question. Releasing ex-Boko Haram people and you say they will not compound the problem? You also know the answer to the question.
Your opinion on it is sought for people to know, especially the younger ones?
There is no younger person that does not know the answer to this question. Who does not understand the implication of that? No expert is needed to tell anybody the implication of freeing ex-Boko Haram members. Any child that is in secondary school should know the implication of this.
Do you believe that some of those freed former Boko Haram fighters are the ones giving information which the group is using to fight the military now?
Yes. The people who released them know why they released them. Common sense should have told them the implications of their action. I am sure their security advisers would also have told them.
But do you think they were released for political reasons or religious reasons?
I don’t know. What I know is that they were released and they know the implications of their action. Those who released them have a purpose for doing so and we have been shouting about that and there is no sense in repeating the same thing to those who would not listen. That is the problem. Those who released them have their reasons for doing so and they have security advisers. But do they listen to the advice of the experts? They released ex-terrorists and you want to tell me that they do not know what those ones are capable of doing?
Is it true that kidnapping is being encouraged by poor road network in the country?
No, poor road network is not the reason for criminals to kidnap. Will you say the kidnapping done on Abuja-Kaduna road is being caused because of bad road? Is that road bad? Kidnappers are criminals and whether the roads are bad or good, they will operate. It is the responsibility of the government to stop kidnapping and other criminal activities because security of life and property is the number one duty of any responsible government. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that the people in the areas where they govern are safe. That is why South-West governors came up with Amotekun.
But do you agree that to tackle the problem of insecurity, unemployment problem must be addressed?
Is it unemployment that is making people to go to farms and kill people there? Is it unemployment that make terrorists to kill people and come out to own up? Some of these people killing and kidnapping people are not even Nigerians. They were invited to come to Nigeria. When people are invited to come and invade people’s land and inheritance, will you say unemployment is responsible for that? Those behind these things know what they are doing. Was there no unemployment doing (former President Olusegun) Obasanjo’s time? Was there no unemployment during (ex-President Goodluck) Jonathan’s time? Can anyone say insecurity was this high when those two former presidents were in power? I agree unemployment is one of the factors of insecurity, but the present situation in the country is not caused by unemployment. This is a planned thing and it is being executed. Therefore, it has nothing to do with unemployment or bad road. Nigeria is not secured and everybody knows those who are behind it. Journalists should ask those who brought insecurity what their motive is.
Are you saying the present government is not doing enough to fight insecurity?
I don’t know. You know them. Go and ask them.
Are you in support of state police?
I don’t want to talk about that.
What of restructuring the country?
Those shouting restructuring know very well that the present government will not do anything about it. They won’t do anything about restructuring so those advocating restructuring are just wasting their time. Yes, they used it to campaign. Agitation for restructuring did not start today. It was there during the administration of Jonathan. If this government wants to fulfil its campaign promise on restructuring, we would have seen the signs that they are interested in restructuring. But this government is not ready for restructuring?
But don’t you think they will want to fulfil the promise because they used it to campaign and some people supported the All Progressives Congress because of this?
Nigerians should ask (Asiwaju Bola) Tinubu. He is the leader of the APC. Ask him why he and his party are not fulfilling their campaign promise on restructuring. Go and meet him. He is their leader and they all made the promise to restructure but it is not happening. He should give Yoruba people and other Nigerians the reason why they have refused to fulfil their promise. They made a promise they did not intend to keep. – Culled from Punch.