Interview – Tribune Online https://tribuneonlineng.com Breaking News in Nigeria Today Sat, 18 Jan 2020 20:24:16 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 https://tribuneonlineng.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/logo.jpg Interview – Tribune Online https://tribuneonlineng.com 32 32 118125416 Insecurity: We need to find those thinking for boko haram, others —IBB https://tribuneonlineng.com/insecurity-we-need-to-find-those-thinking-for-boko-haram-others-ibb/ Sun, 19 Jan 2020 02:27:44 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=285461 Tribune Online
Insecurity: We need to find those thinking for boko haram, others —IBB

Adelowo Oladipo monitored this interview with former military president, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, in Mina Niger State. The former leader spoke on diverse issues affecting the country.

Insecurity: We need to find those thinking for boko haram, others —IBB
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Insecurity: We need to find those thinking for boko haram, others —IBB

WHAT is your take on the 50th anniversary of the Nigerian civil war?

I wish the country would never not witness such an ugly event again.

 

During your days in the military schools, did it ever occur to you that you and some of your colleagues from the South-Eastern part of the country would be locked in battle against one another in future?

It just shows you how things could go wrong in running a country where there were some civil disturbances which began to manifest itself at that time, immediately after independence. Elections were not well properly conducted and there were riots in various parts of the country which culminated in the civil war. And so, the leadership at that time believed very strongly that nothing should be done to break the unity of the country. And we were all brought out and trained to believe that we should be able to defend the integrity of the country.

So, any effort to disintegrate the country by any person or group of persons, we would resist, because of the training and political orientation that had been done by then military and political indoctrination.

 

Did you feel a sense of loss or relief when the civil war was declared over?

Yes, it was with a great sense of relief and I was somewhere in Okigwe, when my Commander General, Lieutenant General T. Y. Danjuma, came and broke the news to us that the war was over. It was with a sense of relief to me, because what I wanted to do immediately I heard was to find a colleague of mine; we trained together in Kaduna Military Training College then. We called him Amos. I really wanted to see him so that we could shake hands. He eventually turned up and we greeted ourselves, talked about our days as cadets and so on. And he, as a deserter, asked me; “Ibrahim, did you fight with me? Amos, were you also fighting me on this other side of the war front?”

And we both said we really had a reason to thank God that none of us was killed during that war. And we became friends again from there on.

 

Former head of state, General Yakubu Gowon, put in place a government after the civil war for reconstruction, reconciliation and rehabilitation, and upon which it declared that there was neither victor nor vanquished in the 30-month-old civil war. What was he trying to achieve then with that pronouncement?

We studied military history. I think we were informed to know that quite a number of countries in the world at that time went through civil wars and immediately after the civil wars , you  would come back, settle down and then, begin to integrate people into the mainstream of the society. And this was what was in our minds then. Fortunately, our head of state then, General Gowon, imbibed this, because he was a passionate believer in the unity of this country. He was determined. Since he said there was neither victor nor vanquished, we quickly began to adjust to remain as Nigerians and live our lives as Nigerians.

 

What was the state of the military at that time?

It was small in size when we started, because it was about five battalions or not up to 10, 000 in size. But by the time the war was over, it was about 250,000, because of the obvious mobilisation. So, from a small number of about 10,000, it moved up to about 250,000 in population. But the immediate problem at that time was to reorganise the Nigerian Army into a much more manageable size, cohesive and well trained army, well oriented for the purposes of reintegrating the nation.

 

All of you in the Nigerian Army  at that time, including  your contemporaries, your seniors and your subordinates, no one can talk you out of your belief in the unity of Nigeria even up till today; what is responsible?

Well, the unity of Nigeria, as far as we are concerned, is an article of faith, especially amongst my generation. Nobody would like to see this country  going through another civil war; nobody would like to see this country disintegrated, because by allowing that to happen, we would be unfair to those who put their lives on the line and for the purposes of keeping the country one. That would not be fair to them. If we are allowed to go our different ways as a people, we felt we would not be fair to them. Millions or thousands of people were killed. Some others were maimed; some were permanently disabled and so on. We shall not be fair to those people who lived their lives for the sake of this country to get the country united. That is why we have that belief. Those of us that are lucky to still be alive are very passionate about it.

 

Are you satisfied with the state of our economy, 20 years after democratic governance?

Quite frankly, I think we did gain a lot, if we compare ourselves with other countries that went through civil wars. I think we have done reasonably well, because immediately after the war in the 1970s, we had military governments before civilian governments. The military governed from 1966 to 1979 and a civilian administration governed from 1979 to 1983. Then, the military again, did from 1983 to1985. Then, there was another military government from 1985 to 1993 and yet another from 1994 to 1998. Now, we have been keeping the civilian administration in place and there has been no time for the military, because of the determination to install a democratically-elected government in the country. From 1999 till date, we have succeeded with the civilian administration in place. And this is all thanks to the military which is with the determination to subject itself to the authority of the democratic government in the country.

 

It has also been argued that many of the policies that were put in place immediately after the civil war, like the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, the Unity Schools or Federal Government Colleges and so on, were deliberate policies designed to bring about cohesion in the country. But still, with these Institutions in place, Nigerians have not stopped seeing themselves as ethnic groups, rather than as Nigerians. Has the purpose to a large extent been achieved?

I think they have succeeded to a larger extent, especially in the NYSC programme, because most of the people who went into NYSC are students from universities and other tertiary institutions. They were intelligent enough, they read enough about what happened and they are able to go through history, intermingling. And so, it was quite easy, to a large extent, at that time. If you find persons of generation of 1973 till now, they are mostly with very strong belief about the unity of this country.

So, that is one of the reasons it has succeeded. Then, at the secondary school level, at the very young age, students are taught about the country and about the civil war to a certain extent. So, if you find the generations from 1973 till now, then you will see a very strong believers in the unity of this country. I think it was good for the country.

 

Many Nigerians have moved on since after the civil war. Some have inter-married, and it has become very complicated. Most children who were born after 1970 are usually products of two parents from different parts of the country. Those different ethnic cleavages that were prior to that time are not easy to make now. How do you see this?

Well, I think old habits die hard and the environment changes. There is this tendency to recline and go back to the old habits. If you suddenly find yourself in politics, for example, people tend to recline to their cocoon, because we didn’t have what I call reorientation about what politics is all about, after the civil war. We saw unity from fighting to remain united. We did not do much in trying to get people to indoctrinate them through political interactions and so on.

So, when we wanted to reintroduce politics, the first things that came to our minds were those political systems that used to be before the civil war. We saw that as a starting point and once you see that, you could hardly changed it.

 

Do you think that what happened in Rwanda, which is about one per cent of Nigeria in terms of population, could work here after their civil war?

I think in the case of Rwanda, I will say that it was leadership. They have a very strong person as a leader who believes very strongly in the country and, therefore, would like to see the country united like a lot of people who went through this problem of civil war or inter-tribal. To my mind, it is the leadership that could change the whole environment or the narration.

 

Do you know if such drastic thing could work here in Nigeria?

No. But if there is a strong leadership at the state and national level, I think we should be able to do it.

 

You have been part of government in the past. Here, we have about 500 ethnic groups, people with various cultures. Yet, we are led by one person. What was your experience in that regard?

Well, I think, as you said earlier, it is Paul Kigame that was saying that we should build supporters who believe strongly in what we are trying to do. And we tried it in the example you gave about the NYSC, Unity Schools and so on. I think we didn’t push it hard. We should have pushed all those programmes harder, so that we don’t have people who have problems in interacting with one another. But soon after the civil war, Nigerians went back to their cocoons and If I say this is where I belong to, I went to school with you, you are my classmate or you are in Lagos, I should have no problem going to Lagos when you are there and you too, if you are coming to Minna and you feel like you have somebody in Minna that you went to the same university with and you did NYSC together as well as attended the same secondary school. I think we allowed it to slack relatively.

One of the other things that were done to bring about the cohesiveness of the country was the creation of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). You actually effected the movement from Lagos to Abuja in 1991. Has it achieved the desired goal?

I think it did. But don’t forget that the whole idea of about Abuja came about in 1975 or 1976 during the Murtala Mohammed-led military administration. He had a vision, because of the sheer size of the country and a lot of ethnic groups in the country. He wanted to keep the country together as one so that they would have something they can call their own and he wanted everybody to belong to that.

I think the idea was good. Those of us who came after Murtala Mohammed, including even the civilian regimes, believed very strongly that that vision was the correct vision for this country. And so, we pursued it. Shehu Shagari tried to make it realizable, even if it was symbolically.

 

Now, there are those who see that the Nigerian military as a country and that if the Nigerian military is cohesive and united, the rest of the country will be the same, because the military, apart from bearing arms and ammunition, are the representatives of all those people and they can actually access what they do in their commands than the rest of the country. How does it sound to you?

I think this is the way it should be. The thinking is correct. You know, you cannot convince me, for example, that this country should break. I would talk to you for a long time if you should tell me that, because I know people died keeping the country one. Thank God we are trying to keep the country one. So, my generation will always insist that this country should remain one, because we knew the consequences of the war. We knew the pains people went through in keeping the country one. So, the reason we have to give is to keep the country one and it is not too much a demand on us in keeping the country together.

And the whole thing depends on the leadership. One of the things I would have loved to see in politics is that if you want to pick a leader, you should be able to assess it first about the unity of the country, so that you will not jeopardise it; if he will try to use everything within his powers legitimately to make sure that the country remains one. There are about 200 million people in this country. There are some people whose generations should be below me, who will always be ready or prepared to defend this country and the generations who would move this country towards the required objectives. I am sure that Nigeria will not go with my generation, because my generation is committed towards keeping the country together and they will use everything possible to apply logic, advise and talk, just to make sure that the country remains as one indivisible entity.

 

The military bears arms and the rhetoric out there is that they are not interacting with the civilian populace as much as expected and that most of the time when the interactions take place, they usually end in the civilians getting the short end of the stick because the military brooks no dissent. How do you see this?

That was the military before, because immediately after the Second World War, which is very long ago. But we are becoming more civilized and educated. Since the Second World War, we have been made to understand how the military was and for us to understand military-civil relations, because we are preparing to make sure that the solder is supposed to be obedient to a democratically-elected government that represents the people. And democracy is the whole concept of governance, so that the solder will not stage a coup against a civilian administration. I can tell you now, only a stupid solder will think of a coup-d’etat. Military rule is no longer acceptable in Africa, West Africa and in the world generally.

So, the solder is intelligent enough to know that if he stages a coup, the country will be cut to size in the comity of nations. Although there can be an uprising, the people you had wanted to defend would rise up against you in your own country. So, the solder is no longer fashionable. This is as a result of the civil-military relations. The institutions have improved quite a lot over this.

 

What will you like to see to speed up this national cohesion in the country, with regards to reconciliation, reintegration and rehabilitation, because 50 years on, there are people who still believe that the country is not fully reintegrated? Some people still feel they are being discriminated against. What do you think should be done to deepen the process?

Our selection of leadership at all levels is the most important thing. Political leadership at all levels, military leadership and economic leadership. Once this is strong and nobody feels sabotaged and we all believe in this country, our people will have no problem.

 

Do you think the federal character system established by the Federal Government should be used to deepen this process?

To a certain extent, I think the federal character system did deepen the process, because it created some sense of belonging and balance in what government is trying to do. But you cannot carry it on to a ridiculous extent, saying because of federal character, you give a mediocre a job in place of a qualified person. We should not shortchange people. We have qualified persons throughout the country today. In any community, there are always graduates, people who hold Master’s degrees or probably professionals in different fields of human endeavours. Therefore, you cannot sacrifice quality in the name of federal character.

 

Have you now made up your mind to write your memoirs and narrate the story of your period as military president?

I think I belong to the school of thought of Winston Churchill. They are talking of historical legacy. He said history will be fair to him because he is going to write it himself. So, maybe because I share this opinion, I will write it, God willing, so that when I write it myself, I want history to be fair to me.

 

We know you are a great reader, especially of books on contemporary leaders like Douglas McCarthy…

It is because Douglas was my character or person. He was a very brilliant man and he came immediately after the Second World War; he was very rational, very charismatic and strictly professional. So, those of us who believe in the profession see him as a good example. Anabel cuts the picture of a tough mind. When he spoke about the military, he said it was not about the weapon, but the man behind the weapon. So, despite all the problems, he has been able to lead people. People followed him because they knew he would not lead them astray. Those are the sorts of characters that we had studied over time. These types, what they were, they don’t need what they can offer now, rather, they need people who can use their intellects. They convince you. This is the right thing to do. I think I have had to follow him because, you know, he was not going to lead you astray.

 

On the current state of insecurity in the country, you talked about the military being overstretched, when the security challenges seem to have increased or metamophorsed from one type to another, depending on who you are talking to. What need to be done about insecurity in the country?

I think a lot more needs to be done, quite frankly. If what you read in the national newspapers or what you listen to on the radio is true, there are still some challenges in most of these areas. But the security situation has been stabilised. I read in the papers about the young governor in Borno State who was telling the minister of defence that there were still some places that people could not go within the state. I am glad he said so because that technique will give the military high command the results.

So, there are still a lot of challenges and what they need to do is to get a lot of intelligence in those areas. But it looks to me that there are people who are thinking for the Insurgent groups and there are people who think for them and the thinking is that we need to find out who are thinking for them. Who are the people leading them and supplying them weapons. We need this in order to put a stop to all that. That is probably the way I assess it now, because of what is happening. However, the military is still overstretched. To get the police to do the job, there may be the need to withdraw the military from some of these things. Most of the jobs they do, under normal circumstances, are the jobs that the policemen should be doing. The military only intervenes when it has gone beyond the police. And it is a process; military takes over from the police. So, if they say they are going to get the police to take over, they will get more policemen. They will train more policemen, so that where it gets really tough is where you ask the military to go in.

Insecurity: We need to find those thinking for boko haram, others —IBB
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Why all Yoruba must rally round Amotekun —Gani Adams  https://tribuneonlineng.com/why-all-yoruba-must-rally-round-amotekun-gani-adams/ Sun, 19 Jan 2020 02:15:53 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=285490 Tribune Online
Why all Yoruba must rally round Amotekun —Gani Adams 

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The Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land, Iba Gani Adams, in this interview with select journalists including BOLA BADMUS, speaks on the establishment of ‘Operation Amotekun,’ a security outfit by the governors of South- West states, declaring his support for the initiative which he said would make Yoruba land a no- go area for criminals.

Why all Yoruba must rally round Amotekun —Gani Adams 
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Why all Yoruba must rally round Amotekun —Gani Adams 

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HOW do you see the launch of the Operation Amotekun?

Operation Amotekun is a welcome development and at the same time it is a belated idea that we have been expecting for a long time. I am one of those that gingered them to hold the South-West Security Summit that led to the establishment of Amotekun.

I can say authoritatively that Yoruba people are very happy with this initiative. Anybody criticising it is either a sadist or that person does not value life. Not only life [such a person does not value] the property someone has acquired with his labour. Amotekun is not the same with state police that we have been demanding before now. I see Amotekun as someone with fever that needs to be given first aid treatment; otherwise if not given, the person may not have the chance to be administered full treatment. Ordinarily, we wanted state police, but in the absence of that something must be done because a state police is a constitutional issue that will require amendment of the constitution. But a security outfit that will be controlled by governors is highly necessary now and not even next month. We know from intelligence report available to us that Yoruba nation has been highly infiltrated. We have been infiltrated all over South- West by criminals both external: from Niger, Chad, Mali and internal, our own people who are criminals.

Some Yoruba people have turned something else. If you are talking of cultism in those days, you hardly heard about secret cults on the streets but only on campuses. This is another serious threat apart from the criminal herdsmen that have infiltrated our ranks.

To even add insult to injury, the president, Muhammadu Buhari, has also approved visa on arrival policy for some of the foreigners at our entry points. This has also created fears for our people. We realised that we are under siege. But Amotekun will solve this issue of insecurity even beyond the menace of Fulani herdsmen.

Let me disclose something to you. Between Shagamu – Ore along Lagos- Ore- Benin Expressway, you will see some beautiful houses built right inside the bush on both sides of the road. Some of them are abodes where ritualists used to attack their victims. From Ogere to Ibadan along Lagos- Ibadan Expressway, the similar thing is that many people have got lost on that axis. Not too long ago, we saw the Soka incident. And people are asking what is Soka›s incident compared to what is happening on those roads. A lot of people are getting lost. Their families would be looking for them and they wouldn›t be found again because they have become victims of ritualists.

Also from Ilesha junction to Akure, something similar is happening there. From Owo to Okene, you will find the same thing happening. Therefore, the security threat in the South- West goes beyond Fulani herdsmen. We also have it on good authority that some Yoruba people are conniving with this criminals, giving them information on who and who they should kidnap to raise money. So as the Aare Onakankanfo I am very interested in Operation Amotekun not because of what I want to get. If people get their salaries, will they come and give me? No, I am not even in government.

We may differ politically, but what our governors are doing right now in respect of Operation Amotekun is in the interest of the entire Yoruba land and we must support them. There is a limit to which we must play politics with our lives. The issue on ground now requires that we Yoruba should allow God to use the present governors to secure our land. The ball is in the court of the governors and also on me as Aare Onakankanfo of Yoruba land. I am not supporting the idea because of personal gain, but what it will bring to Yoruba land. My traditional position requires me to ensure that Yoruba land is secure and save for everyone.

 

A security outfit like this requires some implementation technicalities. What are the technicalities in guiding the formation of Operation Amotekun?

I may not know much about the technicalities but the DAWN Committee is there to handle that. The committee was set up and controlled by the DAWN Commission  and comprises about 30 people who are meant to work on the technicalities. All the security advisers are there in the committee. There are retired police and SSS officers and even there are strong lecturers in criminology as committee members.

I was granted an interview a few days ago and the interviewer was asking me about fears of stakeholders and that different arms will come together, and I told him that when the Joint Task Force (JTF) started their partnership with the Nigerian Army to subdue Boko Haram in the North- East, the Hausa stakeholders did not express any fear. Why is it that anything that has to do with us, we start to analyse and look for loopholes? Why in South-West should we allow ourselves to be killed like chickens every day? About three or four years ago, South- West was the most peaceful region in Nigeria but it is not so again today. And Hisbah has been in Kano since, implementing Sharia, the penal code in our own constitution for the past 15  years and nobody raised an eyebrow. Even Hisbah psychologically, within Kano State, is more powerful than the Nigeria Police. The same thing in Zamfara.  The governor took the decision about four months ago and set up a security outfit to flush out bandits in Zamfara. Where are the stakeholders, where are the security experts?

The difference between Operation Amotekun and private security outfits is that government controls it, therefore it will be well planned; it will be legitimized. So we have to encourage the governors to start first and I think with time, it will be upgraded. With time, they will be putting their house in order, because by the time they launch this group and within just one month, criminals will move back, they will know that South- West is no longer a safe haven for them.

I can tell you authoritatively that there are some ugly incidents that are happening in the South- West and you media are playing them down because you don’t want to create panic in our region. You deliberately played down these incidents  and I will support you on that. You have some information that if you publish them, within three days, Nigeria will burn. But because you don’t want to run down the government and you don’t want to create panic in the land, you played some of them down. But what of the families of those who are affected by these incidents? Do we know who will be the victim tomorrow? So against all odds, we have to support this Operation Amotekun initiative.

 

People expected that you would have been invited for the meeting held on Wednesday by the governors and other stakeholders. Why were you not part of it?

I was invited for tomorrow›s [last Thursday] event, which is the day of inauguration of the outfit. Let me tell you something, when they are in government, they prove class and when they are no longer there, the class diminishes. But it is not compulsory I should be in that meeting. Don’t forget that they called it South- West governors’ meeting. Even our most respected obas in Yoruba land cannot be in that meeting because it›s governors› meeting. The only meeting which I can attend is if the technical committee invites me or I liaise with them one on one. But when they are holding their South-West Governors’ meeting, no other personality is allowed to be there unless you are a consultant to them or they invite you privately. So what I am saying is that it is not compulsory to be in that meeting, but we can give them support. Inasmuch as they are still doing what we want, we will support them, but if they do anything against our wish, I will talk. You all know me that I will talk. But now, they are still in order. Even though it is not all the states that have contacted us, we only have three states which have contacted us. But for now, we are waiting for them to inaugurate and see what will happen. Operation Amotekun is not about our own economic interest, it is about the interest of the Yoruba people. It is about the interest of young Yoruba people that they kidnap when they are going to school; it is about the younger ones they are using for rituals. There is no nightlife in Yoruba land again. When we were growing up, you could go out in the middle of the night and buy food. That is not happening again. But because of insecurity, we are lock ourselves inside like prisoners. Every street is now locked by 12 midnight and open by 5 a.m, which was not so in the past when security was effective. The issue of security is very paramount and we should not take it lightly.

In the past, you would enjoy yourself at weekends; you could attend parties. Look at it, in Lagos now, every party ends by 9 pm, because if you fail to end your party by 9 pm, by the time you are moving from the party by 11pm, the ‘Oraisa boys’ would be tearing your shirts and collecting your phones with just locally made pistols! So, definitely, the issue of security is very paramount and that should not be taken lightly.

 

 You talked about Operation Amotekun being a stop-gap, what do you think is the final solution to problem of insecurity in South-West? Is restructuring the way out? 

Well, Operation Amotekun is just a temporary way of solving the problem. Even having a state police without restructuring is not ideal. State police is a content of true federalism, just a content within true federalism. If we want to solve our problem, we should solve it once and for all.

Let me just explain why I say the state police is just a content of federalism and that restructuring is very key. What we mean by restructuring is allowing the federating units to have their own autonomy. That is all.  During the Constitutional Conference in 1996, The Abacha-led government had structured Nigeria into six zones, South-West, South- East, South-South, North-West, North- Central and North- East and even though we don›t want to waste our time, we don›t even want to waste our money going for another conference, let the component units develop at their pace. Let the federal government remains in Abuja. Abuja should control the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the SSS, federal police, Nigerian security and Civil Defence Corps and other relevant agencies at the federal level.

At the regional level, we are talking about security. They should have their regional, state and local government police. The structure of police in this country should be like four. In Britain, with a population of about just sixty million people, we have seven structures of police. In the United States of America, you can›t count the number of structures the United States Police have and we borrowed this constitution from the United States in 1978.

I read the autobiography of Joseph Wayas. Joseph Wayas said they spent about two months in the US to study their constitution because they wanted to replicate their constitution in Nigeria as a Senate president then in 1979. So why should you replicate a constitution without using it the way you took it from there? You replicate a true federalism in the US and you remove the ones you wanted and threw the main content of the constitution away.

Again, when you are talking of the constitution, if you don›t accept the report of the National Conference in 2014, what of the Republican Constitution of 1963 that our leaders sat together to write by themselves. That is the main people›s constitution. The 1960 Constitution was from the then colonial masters, but the 1963 Constitution was written by our former political leaders. So we have a lot of options for restructuring Nigeria, but the federating units should be given their own autonomy. Assuming a federating unit was given its own autonomy, I don›t think Nigeria would be as worse as this. Nigeria could have been a better country if the federating units were given autonomy to run their units. I can assure you that within seven years, Nigeria would be a country that the entire African countries would be worshipping because ideas would flow, economic competitiveness would be there, development competitiveness would be there and every region would be asking what can I do that I would realise so and so billions? By then a healthy rivalry would be there on the basis of the federating units and all of us would not be running to Abuja and running to Lagos. With that you can see the dream of everybody in their states, and the spirit of let me run to Abuja, let me go to Lagos and make money, would not be there. People would go back to all these rural areas and develop those places.  For instance, when you go to developed countries, the kind of eateries and the shopping centres you have in very urban areas, you will see them in the villages and with the same products like what we have at the secretariat, at Alausa, Ikeja. I mean at Shoprites that you have there. You will see them in the remote villages of developed countries and at the prices they are selling them in the urban areas. With that, you will now see somebody living in Ekiti – that›s what I noticed in Europe, US and UK- when you meet him or her in Ekiti or if you ask why has he or her not come to Lagos, he or she would say what will I go and do in Lagos? Everything I need is here. Is it not everything you see here that you also saw in Lagos? That would be his or her reply.

So what is happening here in Nigeria is that the gap between urban and rural areas is too much and it is giving unnecessary dream to the youth to leave the rural areas to go to urban areas. By the time they get to the urban area, most of them would not be able to fit in. You now see some criminals luring them to criminal activities. So a lot of things have to be corrected and restructuring is the only way that can solve this problem. If we don›t restructure Nigeria, we are wasting our time.

We keep on borrowing everyday. According to Debt Management Office (DMO), the last count of our debt is N25trn, and the government is trying to borrow more now, that›s $30bn and when you convert $30bn to naira, it›s almost N11trn. So if the government borrows another $30bn, our debt will be N35trn and some economic experts say that the money you want to borrow, you will be using half of the money to service it every year. It doesn›t make sense, every year, half of the money!

And when you see the budget that is coming out now, they have already targeted that they would borrow 30 per cent to run it. They would then generate 20 per cent from increment in tax. So anybody that is reasonable, that has a little economic knowledge would know that Nigeria is not moving to anywhere. We are not moving. And we have a lot of things to develop that would give us more money. Our attention lies on oil and our attention is also about making money from tax and we don›t even improve on our electricity supply.

Now we are using generator here at home, you can see, without generator there is no way we can survive in this place. You don›t improve on our electricity supply and you want to make money. When you are moving from Anthony to Apapa, which is an industrial area, the number of industries we have in that area down to Apapa is about 400 to 500. Hardly do we have about 50 that are working now. When you ask the investors what is the reason behind that, they would tell you they are running their factories with generators and most of the modern equipment they wanted to bring into the country, the generators could not work with them.

Why all Yoruba must rally round Amotekun —Gani Adams 
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Amotekun: Buhari, Tinubu are the ones behind our trouble —Osibogun https://tribuneonlineng.com/amotekun-buhari-tinubu-are-the-ones-behind-our-trouble-osibogun/ Sun, 19 Jan 2020 02:05:12 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=285387 Tribune Online
Amotekun: Buhari, Tinubu are the ones behind our trouble —Osibogun

Chief Deji Osibogun is the convener of a pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Yoruba Koya Movement. In this interview with YEJIDE GBENGA-OGUNDARE, he speaks on insecurity in the South-West, Operation Amotekun, causes of insecurity and other issues.

Amotekun: Buhari, Tinubu are the ones behind our trouble —Osibogun
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Amotekun: Buhari, Tinubu are the ones behind our trouble —Osibogun

AS someone who is passionate about the Yoruba race, what is your assessment of the security situation in the South-West region in the last few years?

Talking about security, it was at the brink: kidnapping, robbery, arson and all forms of violence. Villages in particular faced diverse forms of security threat. We discovered that there was a lot of movement away from most of our rural settlements because of the unabated aggression of herdsmen. Coupled with this, we also discovered that the style of operation of herdsmen settling down with our people changed; they had been moving down and cohabiting with our people for long without issues, but all of a sudden, like three to four years ago, we noticed that it wasn’t the peaceful coexistence like we had in the past again. There was open aggression, killing, slashing of throat, dismembering people, rape, kidnap, removing unborn babies from pregnant women and things like that. This gave us a lot of concern because it wasn’t right. The peaceful coexistence that we knew was no more. It was further discovered that there was massive movement down to the South-West. You know that ISIS moved to West Africa, so that heightened the situation and it now became a serious issue of people killing on the expressway, kidnapping for ransom etc and we knew that such operations were uncommon to the police, it was uncommon to the army and the vigilante groups. So everybody was bothered.

In the real sense, ours was more of an intervention to reawaken the people, enlighten them, if anything at all, assist in protecting their communities and I think this we have done successfully and we have made government aware of the seriousness of the situation because of the awareness given by the press and all other agencies like the Oodua Peoples’ Congress, Soludero and all other vigilante groups like Agbekoya that all rose in unity to protect the land and let the people know what is going on. The second stage is the governors in the South-West. We let them know what is going on. We sent so many videos and materials to them to let them know what was happening to their people because it was an issue all of them must take seriously. But but even as casually as they took it initially, because it wasn’t given the seriousness required initially but when it came knocking on their doors and some of them had escaped terrible fates narrowly while travelling on assignment, then Pa Fasoranti’s daughter became a victim, the governors yielded to the cries of their people and came together to find a solution. Whether it is accepted or not, they have shown that they care about their people with Operation Amotekun and now we know that the struggle is not in vain and there is a conscious effort to protect the Yoruba people. We can take the struggle from there.

 

What are your thoughts on Federal Government’s declaration that Operation Amotekun is illegal?

The declaration is not from the Federal Government; it is from the Attorney-General of the Federation. He speaks as a lawyer, taking his brief as a lawyer to the government. I think the logical thing is to challenge them in court. Two, it is not a declaration from the Federal Government because I do not think it has been discussed at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting; it wasn’t discussed at FEC, so what they are doing and that decision is what is illegal. What they are supposed to do by the constitution is to present it at the FEC meeting before taking any decision. But the good thing is that Operation Amotekun has united the Yoruba race more than ever, this is another time that the Yoruba race is being united by issue of oppression and we are coming together as a whole, irrespective of status, religion or political affiliation to say we all stand by one thing which is Amotekun. And I think this is because Amotekun is not just a project, it is the symbol of victory. It is the voice of freedom and it is a cry by the people to free themselves and a cry for unity. So what Malami has done is that he finally woke up the Yoruba race and we will not go to sleep again, we are going to hold on to this until justice is done by the Federal Government and we will meet them in court, because they have to rule by the provisions of the constitution and not rule based on a section of the country alone. I am saying that Amotekun cannot die. Nobody can touch it. It is a spirit. It is unbeatable and you cannot catch the air so you cannot catch Amotekun. It is the spirit of Yoruba land and it will protect the land. It will be a strange attack to those who want to attack Yoruba land.

 

Will you say the South-West governors got it right with Amotekun?

I will say the South-West governors have given us hope. Getting it right is getting the modus operandi: recruitment, operational features, logistics and rule of engagement because Amotekun is not supposed to be an intervention force or carrying arms. It is supposed to give information, that is the assignment. You will not see them. They only do their jobs. So, if government is going to get it right, they need to get the people who have been involved in the struggle, they should not make it a political issue. They need to get people who know the terrain, who know where the people are. Those who have spent time, energy and money gathering information. That is the only time they can get it right. It is not the name you give a child that makes him succeed; you can’t think that because you name a child Bankole, he will automatically build a house for you. Amotekun is a name, but it is also a need now in Yoruba land, because so many people have assumed that status. We will fare better now.

 

What is responsible for the sudden rise in insecurity in the South-West?

Well, the influx of armed herdsmen into Yoruba land. They are buying land all over and contesting for land in areas where they shouldn’t. Now, we have said it that no Yoruba land should be sold to any Miyetti Allah because they are stubborn, rude and insolent. They don’t care about people and they don’t care about lives. And the president has been closely associated with such organisation. It is like associating with the like of ISIS or ISWAP and he didn’t come out to say it is not true. Any government that does this is putting the lives of the people in danger. The government should do what is right; the president can put an end to this.

And this is one last time that some of us will wait for Bola Ahmed Tinubu to say something. There is ambition and there is life. If there is no life, there is no ambition. Lives of the people are being threatened and as a Yoruba leader in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), if governors have said this is where we are going, I think the leader of the party, a Yoruba man in that party, Tinubu, should come out and support his people. He should not hide behind his ambition. There are two people I will call out on this issue; the first is President Muhammadu Buhari and the second is Tinubu, who continues to play politics with the lives of the people because of his ambition in 2023. Already, he cannot win an election with the figures on the ground, because people have come into South-West and are being registered with the National Population Commission and are living here. By the time voter registration commences again, they will outnumber us, because the population of the whole area is being skewed in favour of a tribe. A tribe has permission to carry AK47 around the streets and you cannot even carry a bow and arrow. The two people who will speak before Nigeria breaks up are no other than Tinubu and President Buhari.

I do not think President Buhari sent Malami that message and he better ask him to withdraw the statement. Malami should resign; he has stirred the hornet’s nest. Tinubu and Buhari are the ones causing trouble for us.

 

What is the way forward for the Yoruba race?

The way forward is that we are not going to turn our youths on the street, we will not turn them to target practice for the army or ISWAP. We are going to begin the process of retraining and re-grooming our youths so that they don’t turn them into almajiris. We are going to encourage the government to assist the private sector and individuals who are interested in taking up farm settlements and vocational centres to do so to ensure that the youths on the streets doing nothing will be engaged and we will begin a process of reintegration, especially in rural areas. When rural areas begin to develop in all spheres, then herdsmen will not be able to get them. We have a warning, there should be no killing of any Yoruba man. No farm should be unsettled. We are not asking for the life of any herdsman, but if you move around, endangering the life of any Yoruba man, this is a caution, know that the land is well protected and nobody can overrun us.

Amotekun: Buhari, Tinubu are the ones behind our trouble —Osibogun
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Akume versus Tor Tiv: Why Ortom is silent https://tribuneonlineng.com/akume-versus-tor-tiv-why-ortom-is-silent/ Sun, 19 Jan 2020 02:00:50 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=285489 Tribune Online
Akume versus Tor Tiv: Why Ortom is silent

Terver Akase is the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to Benue State governor. In this interview with our correspondent, JOHNSON BABAJIDE, he speaks on a numbers of issues affecting the state.

Akume versus Tor Tiv: Why Ortom is silent
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Akume versus Tor Tiv: Why Ortom is silent

WHAT is your view on the planned withdrawal of troops by the Federal Government from troubled areas in the country?

The government and people of Benue State appreciate Mr. President and the Federal Government for listening to the unanimous request of Benue people earlier on to replace ‘Exercise Ayem Akpatuma’ with ‘Operation Whirl Stroke’ which has done a very good job in the past one year restoring relative peace in troubled parts of the state, such as Guma, Logo and some other local government areas.

The governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, led the call on behalf of his people to demand for full military operation, because the menace of herdsmen was becoming a real source of concern, not only for Benue people, but also the entire region. And when Mr. President approved the deployment of ‘Operation Whirl Stroke,’ the difference was instantly seen. Today, many of those people who were displaced have begun to go back to their ancestral homes, though there are many more left in camps. We are hoping and believing that the troops will not be withdrawn yet, because we don’t have complete peace yet in those areas. The trouble is just not yet over. That is why the government of Benue State has appealed to Mr. President. In fact, the governor met with him (President Muhammadu Buhari) and we understand that the process has begun to see what the Federal Government can do to extend the stay of ‘Operation Whirl Stroke’ in Benue. So, we would appreciate it, if this is done, because our people deserve the security that is being given them at the moment and we hope that the Presidency will respond positively to the call for the extension of the lifespan of ‘Operation Whirl Stroke’ in the State.

 

What is the level of compliance with the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law in the state?

The law has been a success story since 2017 when it was enacted. A number of people who have violated the law have been arrested and some have already been convicted. We are hoping that if this continues, order is already being restored. People now know that it is an offense to openly graze livestock in Benue State and that is what the people want. The people have said through their representatives in the Assembly and the state executive council that open grazing is prohibited and it has become a law. So, the law is in full force and the Livestock Guards have been doing very well.

Also, the security agencies, like the police, the Department of State Services (DSS) and others, have also cooperated with us and it is a success story. Open grazing has been phased out in Benue State and anyone who is thinking that it is a joke is dreaming, because if you violate the law, the law will take its course. You will be arrested and your animals impounded and detained for one week after which if you don’t come to pay the requisite fines, the animals will be auctioned according to the provisions of the law.

 

Now, the internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been in camps at least in the last two years. Why have they not gone back home and how long more are they going to stay in camps?

It’s a sad story, but the government of Benue State has done everything within its limit to sustain the IDPs and to cater for them. We appreciate some development partners, civil society organizations, who came in to lend a helping hand. But you know that the resources of the Benue State government have been overstretched and that’s why we are hoping that with the presence of ‘Operation Whirl Stroke,’ gradually, these people will be relocated to their ancestral homes. But you can’t just do that now and ask all of them to vacate the camp, because if you move them into their homes without the presence of security, you would endanger them.

So, it is better to allow security presence to be here as you move them. Movement of these people from the camps has to be in phases and gradually too. Some have left the camps for their homes to see how they can put up their destroyed homes and then do one or two farming activities so that when they go back, they will have something to sustain themselves with. It is not something you just do by moving people into an empty space. It will be worse than keeping them in the camps, if you do that. So, that is why we are hoping that the Federal Government will extend ‘Operation Whirl Stroke’ here so that we continue to push the process of relocating these people to their homes.

 

There’s this insinuation that the IDPs were kept for electoral purpose and that now that Governor Ortom has won the election, he is no longer giving them the attention he was giving them during the election. What’s your reaction to this?

No! That’s not true. Remember that even then, the governor wasn’t going to the camps every day. He has representatives. He has an executive secretary on Benue State Emergency Management Agency and it is the job of that agency to look after these people, in collaboration with other relevant stakeholders. So, it is not the job of the governor to be going to camps every day. But he has been going and he keeps tab on what goes on in all IDP camps in the state. Every now and then, the exercise secretary of SEMA comes to brief the governor on progress being made in the camps and how some of these people are moving back to their homes.

So, the governor has not abandoned the IDPs. He loves them and he wishes that all of them can move in one day if it’s possible. If it were possible, these people would have long gone back to their ancestral homes. But it is a security matter. It’s not something you just do like that.

 

There is this investigation that was carried out that the United Nations (UN) and other international donor organisations usually give grants for the upkeep of these IDPs quarterly. May we know if that is true and how much has the state government benefited from this grants?

I don’t have details on this matter. I’ll recommend you to contact the SEMA executive secretary. I believe he will have one or two things to tell you about this. I don’t have the facts.

 

Across the country today, we have the biting effect of insecurity. This has made the South-Western states’ governors to come together to launch a security outfit codenamed Operation Amotekun. Are we expecting any such regional security outfit from the North-Central anytime soon?

It’s not something that one governor will just make a categorical pronouncement about. This is something that has to do with a region. As you mentioned, it’s the decision of the entire South-Western states which came together and resolved on what they want to do. So, if anything of that nature is going to happen in the North-Central, it will not be a decision Governor Ortom would impose on the rest of his colleagues. But I believe that the governors of this region have been meeting too and if they consider it to be important to the region, why not? They will look at it and see what they can do for the benefit of their people.

 

Recently, we heard that the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs made an uncomplimentary statement on the Paramount ruler of the Tiv nation and the chairman of Benue State Traditional Council. Many people and groups have come up to condemn that alleged uncomplimentary statement against the Tor Tiv. Now, some people are of the opinion that those groups that are coming out are being sponsored by the state government. Can you react to this?

The straight question to this is: Did Governor Ortom ask Senator Akume to go and insult the Tor Tiv? If he went and insulted the Tor Tiv and Tiv sons and daughters have found that unpalatable and uncomplimentary to their paramount ruler and they are calling and asking him to apologise publicly, how does Governor Ortom come in? Is it Governor Ortom that asked him to make a public statement against the Tor Tiv? Was the governor there when he made those statements? No. So, where does the governor come in here? I can’t find the place of the governor here. Has the governor made any public statement in this matter since it started? No. The groups that are speaking are doing that on their own. How would you tell me that former Governor Gabriel Suwsam, now a senator, could be twisted by the governor to making a public statement? How would you convince me that Senator Abba Moro, a former minister, will be conscripted into something he doesn’t want to do? And you want to tell me that Senator Oker Jev, who has been in the National Assembly for many years, a man of his own, would be compelled by the governor to make a public statement against his will? And then, you want to tell me that seven other members of the National Assembly, including the senators, would come together to say something against their wish. And then, you want to tell me that the Tiv Area Traditional Council, the Tiv youth group and all those groups that have come out to condemn this, the governor has controlled them and has forced them to come up and say these things? I don’t think any governor has such powers. That tells you that the people are truly angry and the governor has no hand in this.

So, whoever is bringing the governor into this is playing a game of politics. Senator Akume should answer the people. If the people are angry and asking him to apologise, he should respond to the people and leave the governor out of this. At the appropriate time, Governor Ortom will respond to Senator Akume because he has written so many unfounded petitions against the governor. But that’s a different matter. On this one, he should face the people and talk to them. The people are asking him to apologise to the Tor Tiv and the governor has no hand in it.

 

If other Tiv sons and daughters can come out to condemn this uncomplimentary comment against the Tor Tiv, why is the governor not coming out openly to condemn it?

The governor is governor of Benue State and he should be the last person to speak on issues like this, because the people are already speaking out and venting their anger. The governor shouldn’t be the first to speak out when something is wrong, because the governor is the father of the state. The people are still talking. At the right time, the governor will speak. But at the moment, Benue people are still talking.

Yesterday, it wasn’t just a matter of Tiv; it was the entire state. Those National Assembly members cut across all the ethnic groups of Benue State, Tiv, Idoma, Igede. All of them were there and they spoke with one voice. So, the governor is the father of the state and shouldn’t be the first to comment on something that is controversial and capable of dividing his state. He would weigh all the statements and at the end, he would have a say on this matter. But for now, I think Senator Akume is the best person to respond and not Governor Ortom.

 

There’s is this school of thought that believe Akume is angry with the Tor Tiv because of the role the state governor played in his emergence. This school of thought said Professor Ayatse wasn’t the preferred candidate, but that Governor Ortom used his power and imposed him on the people. Could that be why Senator Akume is venting his anger on the throne?

Is that an assumption or has Senator Akume said so? I have not seen or read where he has said so. So, I will not attribute any statement to him. But if he himself says so, we will know how to respond to him. For now, we have not seen or heard him anywhere accuse Governor Ortom of installing the Tor Tiv. The role the governor played was to sign the Benue State Chieftaincy Law which now gave the people the power to install their chiefs in all the ethnic groups of state. And this was done transparently and the Tor Tiv emerged by popular vote. He emerged transparently with popular votes cast unanimously. The governor wasn’t there when selection was conducted. His job was to sign the law and allow the kingmakers to do their job. I have not seen where Senator Akume accused Ortom anyway. But you asked me a question and I am speaking generally, not responding to Akume.

If anyone should insinuate that Governor Ortom installed the Tor Tiv, that man is not being fair to the governor. Ortom did not install the Tor Tiv, but the Tiv kingmakers did. It was in a popular and transparent manner that it was done and when the Tor Tiv emerged, there was no contest, no court case, no issue arising from it up till today. If anyone comes today to play politics with that process, then, it means that person was not in Benue State when the Tor Tiv emerged.

 

As one of the prominent sons of Tiv, what would you say, concerning these alleged unguarded utterances?

I have no personal opinion on this matter. I’m responding to your question in the capacity of spokesman to Governor Ortom.

 

The Tor Tiv, since his installation, has been staying in a temporary apartment, because the main palace has been under renovation. How long would the Benue people wait to see their paramount ruler return to the main palace as culture and tradition demand?

Very soon and by the time that palace is completed, it would be about the best in this country and the governor has given all his interest to it. Recently, he was on the site to inspect the renovation and we expect that the work would be completed very soon on the palace. But as an interim measure, the governor quickly renovated the government guest house in Gboko which had been made a semi-palace befitting of the status of Tor Tiv and he is not homeless as we speak, because of the proactive measures made by Governor Ortom to make sure that the king of Tivland and chairman of Benue State Council of Chiefs has a befitting place. We are hoping that the work on the main palace will be completed very soon.

 

What would Benue people expect from Governor Ortom this year?

The people should expect wonderful things. The governor had already spoken that 2020 is a special year and that he is going to put in everything to make sure that the people get reward for their investment in him as a person and as a governor to lead them for another term. There would be massive construction of roads, massive construction of other facilities like upgrading of our hospitals and primary schools. That is already going on. There will be upgrading of secondary schools; the buildings and facilities in these institutions are being given a facelift.

Many blocks are being built in our primary school premises and they are courtesy of this government and more would be done this year and the years to come. We are hoping that the government would get more funds and with that, we will be able to open many roads this year and remaining years of the Ortom-led government, because we believe that by the end of Ortom’s tenure, he will be inaugurating many projects.

So, 2020, 2021 and 2022 are the target years so that by the last year, he should be inaugurating many more projects. The people should be a bit patient; they have already been patient. The people are not going to regret voting Governor Ortom for a second term. Salary will continue to be paid as and when due. We are processing the arrears; we are hoping that those funds that the government is pursuing will come in so that the arrears would be cleared and the pensioners too would get their entitlements.

 

What about the promise made by the governor that more people would be employed this year? How soon will this happen?

Yes, he said that he is aware of the gaps existing in the civil service and the need to fill those gaps. Because these people who are retiring, if you are not careful, you will have an empty civil service. So, the governor is aware of this and then, he has already directed the head of service to do something in this regard and I believe that very soon, the government will be taking steps to see how those gaps in the civil service would be filled, because there are many graduates in the state. But the governor is not only looking at white-collar jobs for the Benue people. Recently, he was talking about vocational training, especially those who left the university and do not have skills. He is in talks with the Republic of Belarus which has promised to come and establish a technical university in Benue State.

The government of Ortom wishes to train our people in vocational skills and that is why he built gigantic vocational centres in the three zones of the state, so that our people should have entrepreneurship spirit. You finished school, you don’t have any skill, then, you are out of the market. But when you have a skill, even without a white collar job, you will survive and sustain yourself.

So, this government is looking in that direction and we hope that this would be done and done very soon.

 

Recently, one of the Fulani leaders in the state, Alhaji Garus Gololo, said on Liberty TV that Governor Ortom was using soldiers to drive away Fulani from the state. What is your take on this?

I think that is an insult to the integrity and professionalism of the Nigerian military. No governor controls the military. The military has their high command in Abuja, the defence headquarters, and they only collaborate with the state government to provide security for the people. And whoever is residing in Benue State deserves to be protected. It is the duty of the state government, led by Governor Ortom at this time, to protect the people.

When Gololo was in Benue State, he was enjoying security; no one harassed him. Governor Ortom was in collaboration with security agencies, giving them support every now and then for them to be able to provide needed security which Gololo also enjoyed.

So, for him to now turn and accuse the military of colluding with the state government, then, it means he has insulted the military of this country and that’s quite unfortunate.

 

Civil servants, especially the directors in the MDAs, including commissioners who are heading the ministries, are lamenting that the governor removed some powers that enabled them to give approval to certain files, documents and funds for work to go on smoothly. What is your take on that?

Well, there is due process. This government believes in due process and transparency and the governor has said he is an anti-corruption governor. So, in order to put check, he does that supervision. You know our people when you supervise them so closely, they get angry. The governor is a man who puts his eyes on the ball. He wants to see that the right thing is done.

It is not that he has muscled or squeezed the system; he is only supervising them to make sure that everything is done according to the rule of law and adherence to due process. So, for anyone to complain means the person has the tendency to be corrupt. If you don’t have any intention to be corrupt, then, you should be happy that your boss is in interested in the job you are doing and insists that everything you are doing should be done according to due process. That’s all I know. He has not goaded the civil service and has not stopped civil servants from doing their jobs.

 

Some of the local government caretaker committee chairmen in the state have alleged that despite the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) directive, Governor Ortom still makes deduction arbitrarily from their funds. How true is it?

That is not true. Governor Ortom has complied with the NFIU directive fully and has directed the Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs to comply strictly with the NFIU requirements. Ortom doesn’t interfere with local government funds and there are no such deductions.

So, the chairmen are in charge now and they should be accountable to the people, because the governor doesn’t control their funds. That is why governors are arguing that they have to amend the constitution before implementing it fully. Now, the constitution says there should be a joint account. So, you cannot separate the state from the local government account, as it is now, until you do that. For now, no one is saying that there should not be bureau or ministry of local government and chieftaincy affairs; it has to be, because that is what the law says. And until you take away that portion of the law, you cannot move funds from Abuja directly to the local government. As it is now, there has to be a joint account but there is a limit to it. The government does not interfere with the fund. Once the money comes, it is sent to them to pay salaries and do projects. So, the chairmen should be accountable.

Akume versus Tor Tiv: Why Ortom is silent
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‘I was born in 1912, I have a younger sister who is 98’ https://tribuneonlineng.com/i-was-born-in-1912-i-have-a-younger-sister-who-is-98/ Sat, 18 Jan 2020 02:34:35 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=285263 Tribune Online
‘I was born in 1912, I have a younger sister who is 98’

Pa Samson Olayiwola Lakondoro JP is 108 years old. He shares his experience as a teacher, soldier and politician with Faith Adeoye and Temitope Adegbuyi. He also speaks on the circumstances surrounding the killing of his 175 old father and his relationship with late Pa Adebayo Faleti. Excerpts:

‘I was born in 1912, I have a younger sister who is 98’
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‘I was born in 1912, I have a younger sister who is 98’

You are 108 years old and you still look very young and agile, what is your secret?

I don’t have any secret at all. I am grateful to God for long life. I believe contentment is one thing that is still keeping me. I have always been contented. My first wife deserted me during the world war that was the reason I had to marry another wife. I don’t womanize, that is another reason for my long life.

 

You claimed recently that your late father was 175-year-old before he was killed?

Yes, long life runs in the family. I have a younger sister who is now 98 years and she is still very agile and she visits me till date. It is a gift from God.

 

How was your father murdered at 175-year-old?

My saddest moment was March 30, 1958 when my father, Pa Babalola Lakondoro was killed by Adelabu rioters.

 

Tell us about your background?

I was born on the 7th of January, 1912 to Pa Babalola Lakondoro and Mama Ifaranti Lakondoro. I am a native of Ibadan, Ibadan North East Local Government. I am 108 years old.

I attended Catholic school, Oke Aare from the year 1918; I attended Ibadan Boys high school for some years before I proceeded to Lagos.

 

What was your growing up like?

Growing up was rosy. I was the only educated person in my family. Circumstances did not allow some of my siblings to go to school. Some died as a result of small pox; reason I was the only one that went to school.

 

Tell us about your life as a teacher and a military man?

I was a teacher under the Roman Catholic school after I left school. After 12-13 years in teaching, I left teaching for Army. I joined Army in 1939 with the late Olubadan, Oba Samuel Odulana Odugade. After the war, we had to go to our different areas and after sometime, I joined another line, Marina line and from there I joined politics. I am a real politician. I joined Action Group of Nigerian at inception.

 

How were you able to combine these jobs?

When I’m tired of one, I move to another.

 

During your time, did you enjoy free education and to what extent?

To a great extent, no school fees, I didn’t pay any kobo, I stayed with the Reverend Father and they pleaded with my father to release me for them to train. Education then is far better than what we are seeing today.

 

With the way education was during your days, can you compare it to how education is now?

The Reverend Father trained us for our own benefits; they didn’t collect anything from our parents, at catholic seminary. After some years and we were tested and qualified, they divided us to different Missionaries of their choice that they put in place. After some years, I left Oke-Are for Abebi in the year 1933; I became a student at St.

Patrick School, Abebi, in 1936. After that I started my secondary school at Ibadan Boys’ high school. I was there before my result of the second examination I put in for came. Then, you can write as many exam as you want because you don’t know which one will work. The first I collected was IBHS here in Ibadan; I did like 6 entrance exams, Osi college, Warri, Lagos, Kano etc.

 

You mentioned being a politician?

I joined politics through my father’s elder person of the party. At first, I joined the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroon (NCNC) because I didn’t want any god-fatherism, I wanted to paddle my canoe according to what I want.

However, my father was angry with me and stopped taking care for me. Took a while before I knew it was because I joined the NCNC because they belonged to Action Group. I withdrew and joined Action Group in other to avoid any issue with my parent.

 

Are you still a politician?

Yes I am.

 

Politics of then and now, is there any difference?

Yes there is, politics of then is about service but now, you must promise people money before they can vote for you. Things have really changed. Awolowo was the best president that Nigeria never had. He was the one that started free education from primary one to six. He is the author of it. During our own time, we did take bribe; we do politics because we want to serve.

 

What can you say about colonization?

It is better than what we are seeing today the only thing about it is slavery, if not, it’s better. If they can leave us to our own idea, then it would have been better but their intention was to enslave us.

 

What is your relationship with Baba Adebayo Faleti?

Adebayo Faleti is my friend, we were schoolmate. We were together in the same school, catholic seminary. He is from Oyo, I am from Ibadan. We went to Israel the same day, year 2001-2002. We have been together from primary 1-6. We didn’t use primary during our own time, we use infantry 1-6. We were together up till 1939. He was a teacher like me until I joined the Army with late Olubadan, Oba Samuel Odulana Odugade.

 

As the former chairman of Shooting Stars Football Club, how do you feel?

I play football when I was young. I am really blessed to be the father of 3SC. If the current players are dedicated like the player during my time, there is no trophy they won’t win.

 

‘I was born in 1912, I have a younger sister who is 98’
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We do not discriminate in naming and shaming sex offenders —Fapohunda, Ekiti AG https://tribuneonlineng.com/we-do-not-discriminate-in-naming-and-shaming-sex-offenders-fapohunda-ekiti-ag/ Sat, 18 Jan 2020 02:32:28 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=284896 Tribune Online
We do not discriminate in naming and shaming sex offenders —Fapohunda, Ekiti AG

Ekiti State was in the news recently for publicly name-shaming sex offenders as well as taking additional measures in curbing the menace of sexual violence in the state. In this interview by FEMI OGUNTAYO, Ekiti State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Olawale Fapohunda, spoke on this and highlighted some of the achievements of his ministry. Excerpts:

We do not discriminate in naming and shaming sex offenders —Fapohunda, Ekiti AG
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We do not discriminate in naming and shaming sex offenders —Fapohunda, Ekiti AG

November 8th last year, marked your one year in office as the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Ekiti State for the second time, how would you describe your second journey as Ekiti State AG?

Last year was very eventful. We came into government concerned that many of the programmes that we started during the first term of Governor Kayode Fayemi were not continued, in three broad areas; law reform, institutional development and core issues that affect the delivery of effective service to the government and people of Ekiti State. Coming back, one of the first steps we took was to look at the Ministry of Justice again and see how we can strengthen the capacity of lawyers, to rekindle their faith, in delivering effective justice to the people of the state and it was in furtherance of that that we set up a ministry of justice academy. Also recognising that what we do is as important as where we do it, we began to renovate the Ministry of Justice offices.

Are we there yet? No, we still don’t have the type of work place that we desire and that is why we are grateful that Mr. Governor in his wisdom thought it was appropriate for the Ministry of Justice to have a proper office building that appropriately affirms what we do. That was one of the major achievements of last year, that we will now have a new Ministry of Justice building.

The second area where we have made progress is the area of law reform. We proposed and the state executive council and the house of assembly agreed with us on a couple of laws. The Administration of Civil Justice Law is the first in the country and it was enacted in furtherance to ensure that civil disputes are concluded as quickly as possible. The second law is the Anti-land Grabbing Law, the property protection law, which was becoming a major problem for the government and the people of Ekiti State. The conduct of land grabbers became so rampant that it was beginning to affect all of us, affecting those who want to build their own private buildings, affecting investors coming to the state.

Another law that is worth mentioning is the transition law because Mr. Governor was concerned that given our experience of 2014 till now, many of the project that we started were abandoned, so there was a need to enable a legal and duty framework that within practicable means, seeks to achieve transition from one government to another. Core activities under the law will include; having proper handover notes, ensuring that both the teams from the incoming and the outgoing government meet as frequently as possible to achieve a shared appreciation of the state of the state and of course, we cannot but mention the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) law that was amended.

 

The government of Ekiti State is known to be fervently against gender-based violence, thus, declaring the state a no-go-area for sex offenders. Can you talk about some of Government’s policies formulated towards fighting this menace?

Our intervention is not just limited to taking steps, to criminalise domestic violence but also to respond to all forms of sexual violence. We have noticed that there was an increasing rate of sexual violence in our communities across the state. We had embarked on public education and advocacy, led by the wife of the governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi and to sensitise communities across the state on sexual-based violence, but we have noticed that was also not serving its purpose.

So, in addition to public education, in Fayemi’s first term, we established a sex offender’s register which was discarded by the administration after us; we reopened the register, and introduced additional measures. One of the additional measures that we introduced is the naming and shaming, which include publicly putting out pictures of sex offenders, not only on government’s website but also on other social media platforms that deal with these issues.

In addition to that, we took steps to ensure that we name them in public media; we have also adopted issuing advisories to their communities about their status including pasting their posters in prominent places in their local communities. Asides from that, we have taken quite a number of prosecutorial steps. For example, we do not discontinue any rape or any sex offences cases that come before us. Before now, families of victims and the offenders sometime come to an arrangement where they are paid off, we have tried to discourage that and insisting that if the victims do not cooperate with us, we may also prosecute the victim for obstructing justice.

So we have taken those steps, in addition to the fact that the Attorney General provides leadership to all sex offenses prosecutions. We are grateful that the police have also been helpful; the turnaround time in which we receive files and begin to prosecute is now getting faster than before.

Can we do better? Yes, there are still areas that we still need to work on, for example, we cannot just take care of the legal needs of the victims, and there is a need to have additional support, medical and psychological. So we are working on a sexual assault referral center, which can be a one stop clinic for victims of sexual assaults. Hopefully that will be realized this year; we have identified a location in the state’s teaching hospital, we have begun to train our own lawyers, who will be available for the referral centre.

 

The recent naming and shaming of another sex offender was commended by a lot of Nigerians. However, some people were of the opinion that the naming and shaming was just for non-prominent people, that, if it was a politician or a prominent person that committed that offence, the person won’t be shamed that way, what is your say on this?

Well, maybe they have forgotten that the first person that was named and shamed was an Anglican priest, despite the enormous pressure that was put on the Ministry of Justice that time. So we do not discriminate. If they have any proof of a high-profile person that has been convicted and we have not named and shamed, let them bring it to us now, we will look at it. But we do not discriminate, once the person is convicted, convicted is the keyword, people confuse allegation with conviction; it is not the same thing.

I know a number of people have been saying, but this person and that person is in court, yes; but until we get a conviction, the fundamentals of our law is ‘innocent until proven guilty’, and proving guilty is not by social media. It is by a court of law. So the moment we have a conviction, that is when we deploy the measure of sex offenders’ registry.

 

The wife of the governor recently suggested that girls who get pregnant while in school should be allowed to go on with their education. Are there going to be laws to this effect; and don’t you think this will encourage sexual immorality among students?

Number one, it presupposes that you think because one girl is pregnant, all other girls will also want to get pregnant. That is a very false premise to build an argument and the fact that my friend smokes does not mean I will smoke. I think the fundamental issue is that something is wrong, when you have at that age, a girl and a boy have a relationship, the girl gets pregnant she leaves school, the boy continues. There is something that is not right. That is the broader picture that many people do not see. It also goes back to how we see the girl child. Why should the girl child have to leave school while the boy continues school, there is something wrong.

It is this patriarchal society that always place the girl as the villain, meanwhile, it takes two to be pregnant.  So the boy that is responsible will now continue school and you say the girl should stop and we do not think something is not right in that. Of course, it is not about laws, it is not compulsion, what we are trying to do – all of us, not just the first lady, is to, number one, within your own community, educate your people about the importance of girl-child education, which is crucial to the development of the community. Most importantly to note that the girl getting pregnant in school should not be the end of her life.

If you look across Ekiti State now, the concern of the wife of the governor is the practical and real life examples of girls that are all around in Ekiti, pregnant, who have dropped out of school, they have no skills, by the time they have the kids and are out of school, they become unemployable, they contribute to our social problems in the state. So, it is more than this pregnancy issue, there is a broad range of issues that are directly connected to those girls coming out of school.

Yes, we need to create much awareness, sex education is crucial, we need to begin to rethink our approaches to these issues. Now, because we have taken this religion issue to another level, many schools don’t like teaching sex education. Sex education is crucial because whether we like it or not, the boys and the girls are exposed to sex education on screen, it is everywhere.  Yes, we have to much more to do in sex education, but in such a case where then it happens, the life of the girls should not stop.

 

The offenders’ register that started in Ekiti has now become a national thing, how do you feel about this?

We are grateful and it is good we now have a national conversation on the issue. When we started it, we were the lone voice; many people said it can’t work, that it was an American idea that it can’t work in Nigeria. We are happy now that more and more people now see that it can work. It is not just the federal alone, I was reading recently that the Chief Judge of Ogun State has proposed that she thinks the idea of sex offenders register is good as she is concerned about the increase in rape incidents in that state. So more and more states are coming to us asking about the templates, but what is good ultimately is that, Ekiti State will not solve Nigeria’s issue of sexual violence but it is good that we have set the templates and we are happy to share our experience, so it is a positive development.

We do not discriminate in naming and shaming sex offenders —Fapohunda, Ekiti AG
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I have no regrets fighting for Biafra —Okike, ex-Biafran soldier https://tribuneonlineng.com/i-have-no-regrets-fighting-for-biafra-okike-ex-biafran-soldier/ Sat, 18 Jan 2020 02:02:10 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=285247 Tribune Online
I have no regrets fighting for Biafra —Okike, ex-Biafran soldier

IPOB

One of those who fought on the Biafran side during the civil war, Mazi Chukwuka Okike, relives his experience in the war. JUDE OSSAI brings excerpts of the interview:

I have no regrets fighting for Biafra —Okike, ex-Biafran soldier
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I have no regrets fighting for Biafra —Okike, ex-Biafran soldier

IPOB

How did you join the Biafran Army?

I was in class four at Sacred Heart College, Aba in present Abia State when the Nigeria/Biafra civil war broke out. We were conscripted into Civil Defence before being moved into the Biafran Army by our Vice Principal, Mr. Onwuegbu, who took over the school immediately the Irish Catholic Priest, Rev. Fr. Smith left the country with four of his countrymen following the broadcast by then Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon that the police had taken action to calm the rebellion in Eastern Nigeria in 1967.

 

What was your experience like?

Asking me to tell you my experience of the civil war is like reminding me of the pogrom and suffering our people passed through in the three years the war lasted. The civil war was terrible. There was no food; no water and there was nothing to call your home. I was at the battle front fighting for Biafra nation. No money was paid to us as we saw the war as sacrifice to rescue Biafra land from going into extinction. The Hausa/Fulani led Federal troops wanted to annihilate the Biafrans.

There were killings, injustice and oppression against Ndigbo and the pogrom in the North triggered the war as the people of the Eastern Region demanded secession to stem further killings and live as a separate entity. Other ethnic nationalities refused that Col. Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu should establish an independent state of Biafra and unfortunately for us, the world powers backed Gowon and vehemently refused that we go our separate ways. Only four countries, including Gabon were on the side of Biafra.

As a matter of fact, it was difficult to survive in Biafra land during the war as there was blockade at all borders, air and sea and it took the courage of an organisation called Caritas to wade into the war through its humanitarian work. The Caritas, a humanitarian group in the Catholic Church, saved the Easterners from dying of Kwashiorkor due to hunger and starvation. This humanitarian group took risk, flew in their airplane and supplied us food in midnight. They dropped food on makeshift runways which are tarred roads. The pilots are given codes to differentiate them from enemies. We ate lizards, frogs and leaves at battle field as there was no farming or trading at battle fields and many parts of Igbo land.

I got injured at Owaza near Rivers State and I still feel the pain up to this day. War is not a tea party. I lost blood and on many occasions, I had to use dead bodies as shield. That I am alive is still a miracle to me. That is why I am bitter that nobody is recognising or talking of our ordeals in the war. Ndigbo were slaughtered in their numbers in the North. Ndigbo were oppressed and marginalised and these caused the war.

 

Have we learnt any lesson?

Today, things have not changed. The North is still regarding leadership of this country as their birthright.  I know it will end someday. Biafra is not dead. Biafra lives in the heart of every Biafra soldier and indeed in every Igbo man. I blame the British for the conspiracy against Ndigbo. The British tutored the Hausa/Fulani that they should not allow Ndigbo to rule Nigeria.

At 71, I cannot go to war again. Who am I going to fight for? I did my best at that time and now it is left for the younger generation to continue where we stopped. I have no regret fighting for Biafra.

I strongly commend Igbo freedom fighters like the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and the founder of Biafra Zionists Federation (BZF), Benjamin Kanu. If not for some of these pro-Biafra leaders, the Hausa/Fulani jihadists would have since taken over Igbo land. I continue to wonder why our political leaders are not speaking out. Where are Igbo educated elite? Where are the business class and legal luminaries? Are they not quiet out of cowardice and foolishness?

I have no regrets fighting for Biafra —Okike, ex-Biafran soldier
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How we captured Owerri and ended the Nigerian civil war —Colonel Yilwat https://tribuneonlineng.com/how-we-captured-owerri-and-ended-the-nigerian-civil-war-colonel-yilwat/ Sat, 18 Jan 2020 02:02:08 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=285246 Tribune Online
How we captured Owerri and ended the Nigerian civil war —Colonel Yilwat

Colonel Sati Yilwat (Rtd) was at the battlefront during the Nigerian civil war. In this interview by ISAAC SHOBAYO, the retired military officer, who is the Plateau State chairman of the Nigerian Legion, speaks on the war 50 years after and the lessons learnt.

How we captured Owerri and ended the Nigerian civil war —Colonel Yilwat
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How we captured Owerri and ended the Nigerian civil war —Colonel Yilwat

 

When did you join the military?

I joined that Nigerian Army in 1968 as a Constable and was drafted to the war front immediately I finished my training at Depot NA Zaria. Because of my performance and activities during the war, I got accelerated promotions and eventually retired as a Colonel. During the war, I served in Artillery, precisely 3rd Marine Commando under the late Brigadier General Benjamin Adekunle who was a Colonel during the civil war. He was my GOC in Port Harcourt. At the artillery unit, we provided cover for the Infantry. When we had a target, there would first be raking, after which the Artillery would move in. But before doing this, we would use our artillery guns and compass to know the area we were supposed to shell and after dispersing the enemies, the Infantry would move in, sometimes led by the armoured tank.

 

How did the authorities then brief you on the cause of the war before you proceeded to the battlefront?

We didn’t know much about the cause of the war. What we later got to know was that the Southerners felt that the Northerners were suppressing them and that the Southerners, because of their education and advancement, saw this as injustice. This led to suspicion and lack of unity among the people and bred hatred and ethnicity. The coup that followed with the elimination of prominent people worsened the situation and consequently led to the civil war. It may interest you to know that some Igbo soldiers did not join Biafra. Open fire concerning the war started on 6 July, 1967. The experience, especially the scars of the war, is still with many today. But I can say that Nigerian troops handled the war with every sense of maturity. Towards the end of the war, leadership of my division was given to General Olusegun Obasanjo who was a Colonel then.

 

You were in the Third Marine Commando under then Cols Benjamin Adekunle and later, Olusegun Obasanjo, how did your division end the war?

It was by force and superiority over the Biafran solders. When I Division of the Nigerian Army captured Umuahia, the Biafran soldiers attempted to block us from entering Owerri. Those already inside opened the road for us and after a fierce battle, Umuahia and Owerri were captured by the federal troops. They initially promised to celebrate Christmas in Owerri but there was a heavy fight. During the battle, Obasanjo’s orderly was seriously wounded but after we captured Owerri, the federal troops proceeded to capture Orlu airport, which was under the control of Biafra.

 

In spite of the horrible experience of the civil war, there are people today calling for secession and revolution…

Before the demise of Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu, he said the Igbo made a mistake and he did not want such a mistake to happen again. He said Nigeria should remain as one entity. Every Igbo person that experienced the civil war will tell you that war is bad. The destruction of lives and property caused setbacks for the South-East and cost the Nigeria government millions of naira. And today, many will rather hang themselves than engage in a war.

What I saw during the war was horrible. There was a day that I thought I would not live to see the next day, given the heavy bombardments throughout the night between the federal troops and the Biafran soldiers. The battle was tense but I was unhurt. At daybreak, there were heavier casualties on the part of the Biafran soldiers than the federal troops. There was serious starvation and children died. Some were rescued by the federal troops.

Anyone calling for war had better think twice or ask from the survivors of the war. There is nothing as good as peace. War brings about destruction of lives and property but peace results in development. For example, the North-East, Boko Haram elements have been tormenting that zone for about 10 years now. People are being killed on a daily basis and communities are getting destroyed. It is a war situation. Go and ask the people there, they will tell you their experiences. So, anyone clamouring for war should think twice.

Our leaders should govern with conscience and fear of God. Our problem right from the beginning has been bad leadership. Most of our leaders are not sincere hence the insecurity we are experiencing today. The rule of law is not being respected. There is injustice at all levels. With all this, it would be difficult to experience the type of peace that would propel development and bring justice and equity to our nation. Democracy is good but those in power are corrupt. The majority of those in power today are ruled by ambition and selfishness. They are never satisfied. That is why you see some of them, after eight years of being governors without any achievements, wanting to go to the Senate or scheming to become president using looted resources to launch themselves to the ‘next level’. All these can cause injustice and war. So, the political class needs to watch their conduct and be careful.

 

Fifty years after civil war, do you think Nigerians have learnt any lesson?

Presently, what is the percentage of those who experienced the civil war? Many of them are no more; they are gone. Many of those in positions of authority today were either toddlers or yet unborn during the war. Those yearning for war or a break-up don’t know the implications of their utterances. They don’t know the bitterness of war. I remember that after our training at Depot NA, many of us were excited that we were going to war. But when those who fought the first and second world wars saw us, they shook their heads. They said we had no idea what awaited us at war front. It was when we got there that we realised the reason they shook their heads. I don’t blame the young ones who are drumming for war. It is because they have not experienced one. I think the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Education, should make the study of the Nigerian history, especially the civil war aspect, compulsory in secondary schools.

 

There are some Igbo people who still feel that they are yet to be properly integrated into Nigeria after the civil war…

They have no problem today. We are all one under one federating unit called Nigeria. Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, laid the foundation for reconciliation and reconstruction and presently, there is full integration. What we lack is good leadership. General Gowon is not flamboyant; he is moderate. But check those who came after him, they are stupendously rich and they employ various sentiments to make themselves relevant.

 

What is your take on the insurgency in the North-East?

One can understand the reason behind Biafra. They wanted independence. But the motives of Boko Haram in the North-East are unknown. I keep wondering why the military is still unable to decimate the group in spite of the sophisticated equipment in their possession. I believe that politicians and some elements are the ones fuelling the problem for reasons best known to them. The civil war took just three years to suppress but this insurgency is about 10 years old now. To me, something is wrong somewhere.

 

Are you saying that the military is not fighting Boko Haram with the kind of determination it exhibited during the civil war?

I want to believe that they are determined but they are certainly not well equipped. It is as if some people don’t want the insurgency to end for selfish reasons. The manner in which the Chibok girls and those after them were abducted without any trace up to today is questionable. It belittles us as a country, especially those saddled with the responsibility of securing the country. Apart from this, kidnapping is gradually becoming a natural phenomenal in Nigeria, yet little or nothing is being done to arrest the situation. It is like our intelligence gathering mechanism in this country has failed us. Everything still boils down to the politicians in power. They are not keen on arresting the situation.

 

With your years in service which spanned about three decades, you must have participated in one coup or another. Is that approach to gaining power still relevant?

The idea of using coup to grab power is outdated all over the world. It is no longer fashionable. I want to tell you that no coup can succeed in Nigeria again. Modern technology such as telecommunication has made it difficult. There is nothing that is secret anymore. Moreover, our present-day military men are more exposed and civilised.

 

Is the present administration taking care of retired military men?

I commend President [Muhammadu] Buhari for taking care of military pensioners. Our pensions have been regular. But I am using this opportunity to appeal to our leaders to bury their differences and think more of the ordinary Nigerians.

How we captured Owerri and ended the Nigerian civil war —Colonel Yilwat
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AGF not a court of law, cannot declare Amotekun illegal ― Karounwi https://tribuneonlineng.com/agf-not-a-court-of-law-cannot-declare-amotekun-illegal-%e2%80%95-karounwi/ Wed, 15 Jan 2020 20:37:35 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=284446 Tribune Online
AGF not a court of law, cannot declare Amotekun illegal ― Karounwi

Karounwi

Special Envoy on regional matters to Ekiti State governor and southwest publicity secretary of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC), Karounwi Oladapo in this conversation with FEMI OGUNTAYO, talks on what the southwest will do in response to the Attorney General of the Federation’s position on the newly inaugurated Western Nigeria Security Network, codenamed ‘Amotekun’. EXCERPTS: […]

AGF not a court of law, cannot declare Amotekun illegal ― Karounwi
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AGF not a court of law, cannot declare Amotekun illegal ― Karounwi

Karounwi

Special Envoy on regional matters to Ekiti State governor and southwest publicity secretary of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC), Karounwi Oladapo in this conversation with FEMI OGUNTAYO, talks on what the southwest will do in response to the Attorney General of the Federation’s position on the newly inaugurated Western Nigeria Security Network, codenamed ‘Amotekun’. EXCERPTS:

The AGF said Amotekun is illegal, what is your take on this?

The AGF is the chief law officer, no doubt about that. But the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation is not the court of law; so the attorney general’s office is not meant to interpret the law. As far as I am concerned, the attorney general is only expressing a legal opinion, because I have the right to say the position of the attorney general is equally illegal. Now the only institution that will now say who is right or wrong is the court.

As the chief law officer, the attorney general as expressed legal opinion which is within his mandate, I don’t have any problem with that, but that cannot be taken as the gospel.

Are there laws backing the operation of Amotekun in southwest?

We really don’t need special laws, because we are not inventing any new wig. What we have done in the southwest is not strange, was there any law in northern Nigeria where the civilian JTF has been assisting the conventional security operatives in combating crime and criminality? Do they have any special law? None! The day Amotekun was launched; Dr. Kayode Fayemi’s statement is sufficed to anybody who is not a mischief-maker. He explained clearly that what we have done in the southwest is to equip the conventional security apparatus of the state that are obviously lacking in intelligence gathering because they do not have sufficient knowledge and they are not too familiar with the locals.

So how does a Hausa man trace somebody that has been kidnapped in my backyard in Efon Alaye along Erinmo road? So you really need the information of those Erinmo people who are farming around that area to help you map out how to get an individual that has been adopted. The law is not even static, we review laws and we amend laws because the society is changing every day. If you make law today to address the problem we are facing that law will be applicable but immediately that problem is solved another problem will occur.

That is why there will always be an amendment to law because our lives are continually changing and you must address and meet up with these changes.

So what we have done in the southwest is to find a strategy whereby intelligence gathering and credible information that is needed to curb crime by the conventional security agencies are provided. So we do not need any special laws because we are not creating a special security outfit.

Look, it is so obvious the security operatives we have in Nigeria are overstressed, the problem is overwhelming them. They don’t have sufficient vehicles, they don’t have communication gadget. Is it a crime if the governments in their own wisdom now are using their own money to assist the federal government? I think what the southwest governors deserve is commendation. We will not take it like that; we will still have to take it to court.

Do you think the declaration by the AGF will stop the operation of Amotekun in southwest?

Well, southwest is not a lawless region, you know the Attorney General of the federation speaks for the President; he is the legal voice of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Southwest is a law-abiding region, we cannot be confronting the authority of the federal government, so when you have two divergent legal opinions, the next thing is that you will want to know where the truth resides and the only way to do that is that you approach the law court. Then if the court now says the position of the AGF is right, then that rests the matter and if the court says, Attorney General, you are wrong then we will continue our operation from where it was before the declaration of the AGF.

Are you saying the operation of Amotekun will be halted, because of the AGF’s position?

What I am saying is that the activities of the outlet are expected to be temporarily put on hold, so as not to be seen as engaging the authority of Nigeria. Because we are civilized in the southwest and the civilized way to go about this is to challenge the position of the Attorney General in court, which is the only legal authority that can say boldly who is right or wrong. So the only civilized way goes now is to stop temporarily the operation of the outlet so as not to be seen as flexing muscle with the authority. The Yorubas have always been known to civilize; we will not be boxed into a corner.

We will not do like the southeast, to me the southeast approach is confrontational, that is not the civilized way to do things. We are pacesetters in doing things, as of knowledge, of commerce, of struggle, of quality leadership and all of that. You know Amotekun until the AGF came in, was the object of discourse across all the regions of Nigeria that the southwest has given them direction on the right way to go in curbing criminality, we are pacesetters. So in a situation like this, we should demonstrate to other regions that the best way to go is the civilized manner, so that tomorrow we can have the moral right and legal authority to tell the southeast that you don’t confront the federal government in hostility but pursue your agitation in a civilized manner.

AGF not a court of law, cannot declare Amotekun illegal ― Karounwi
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We’re alarmed that police claimed ignorance of the demolition —Kola Shittu, Kwara PDP chair https://tribuneonlineng.com/were-alarmed-that-police-claimed-ignorance-of-the-demolition-kola-shittu-kwara-pdp-chair/ Sat, 11 Jan 2020 06:23:28 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=282848 Tribune Online
We’re alarmed that police claimed ignorance of the demolition —Kola Shittu, Kwara PDP chair

The chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara state, Mr Kola Shittu, in this interview by BIOLA AZEEZ, shares the views of the party and its supporters on the demolition of Ile Arugbo built by late Olusola Saraki in Ilorin, among other issues.   How do you see the claim by the government […]

We’re alarmed that police claimed ignorance of the demolition —Kola Shittu, Kwara PDP chair
Tribune Online

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Tribune Online
We’re alarmed that police claimed ignorance of the demolition —Kola Shittu, Kwara PDP chair

The chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara state, Mr Kola Shittu, in this interview by BIOLA AZEEZ, shares the views of the party and its supporters on the demolition of Ile Arugbo built by late Olusola Saraki in Ilorin, among other issues.

 

How do you see the claim by the government that it did not demolish Ile Arugbo?

It is a false, preposterous and unfortunate claim by the Kwara State government that it did not attack or demolish any house belonging to old people known as Ile Arugbo. It is an assault on hundreds of innocent aged people, including women and widows, who usually converged on the building to receive their welfare packages.

Every Kwaran, and even people outside the state, know that Ile Arugbo was built many years ago by the late Olushola Saraki for aged people; to cater to their needs by providing them with food, clothing, cash gifts and healthcare services.

This is what the building was used for during the lifetime of Baba Saraki and which has been sustained by Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, as directed by his father before his death in 2012. This was a demonstration of Baba Oloye’s selflessness and uncommon compassion towards the masses. It is, therefore, unfortunate for the Kwara State government to claim that Ile Arugbo was used for political gatherings, and not for social welfare programme for the aged. The dubious claim by the government, as contained in a statement signed by its Commissioner for Communications, is a reflection of the disdain of the present government for aged people and the downtrodden of the society. No responsible or compassionate leader will direct the demolition of a welfare home for the people.

We, therefore, urge the state government to stop churning out reprehensible, false claims and cheap propaganda to justify its vindictiveness and tyranny. The governor should offer public apology for the attack on innocent Kwarans, including aged women, during the demolition of Ile Arugbo.

 

The state police command has also come out to say it that had no hands in the demolition.

The Kwara PDP and, in fact, Kwarans are curious and alarmed by the claim by the state police command that it never deployed its men for the demolition exercise and was not involved in the shooting and firing of tear gas canisters at unarmed protesters.

What this simply means is that Kwara is no longer safe, as any group of people in security outfits and vehicles could storm anywhere within the state to attack innocent people and get away with it. It is on this note that we call on Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq to tell the public how and where he got the police officers he used to perpetrate evil against innocent people. Kwarans want to know those individuals who fired live bullets and tear gas at innocent and defenceless aged women during the demolition of Ile Arugbo in the wee hours of Thursday, January 2.

We urge the state police command to carry out thorough investigation into this matter if it wants Kwarans to believe it truly had no hand in the barbaric attack on innocent Kwarans.

 

Now that the matter is in court, what are your expectations?

The matter is currently in court and it is only the court that can give a final decision. The case with suit number KWS/463/2019 is between Asa Investments Ltd vs Governor of Kwara State, Kwara House of Assembly, Attorney General of Kwara State, Director General of the Bureau of Lands and the Inspector General of Police. With the matter in the court, one would expect that the governor would stay all actions on it and wait for the final adjudication on the matter, and not take any action that will pre-empt the court decision and render the judicial verdict useless.

It is quite unfortunate that the governor had gone ahead to exhibit his dictatorial tendencies by illegally directing the demolition of the building. This is evil, an act of tyranny and impunity taken too far. Why was the haste in destroying the property when the matter is yet to be decided by the court?

The hurried and surreptitious manner in which the demolition exercise was carried out showed that the governor’s action was not in the interest of the people but to satisfy his own ego, which is a gross violation of the oath of office he swore to. Governor Abdulrazaq has allowed his personal interest to influence his official conduct and decision.

It is now glaring to Kwarans and the Nigerian public that the governor is in office to settle old political and family scores and not to deliver good governance and development that he was elected for. He is vindictive and will stop at nothing to take draconian actions to get at his perceived political opponents.

The demolition of Ile Arugbo is a dishonour to the memory of Baba Saraki. This is a man who dedicated his political career to serving the good people of Kwara. He was a selfless and very accommodating leader, who was always ready to help others. Only a few politicians of his time could rival his uncommon compassion towards the masses, which endeared him to many within and outside the state. However, the governor and his family members, including his father, AGF Abdulrazaq, should know that with or without Ile Arugbo, the late Olusola Saraki will continue to occupy a place of honour in the hearts of Kwarans, particularly those who witnessed or benefited from his numerous acts of philanthropy and humanity.

We, once again, call on traditional rulers, spiritual and community leaders and stakeholders in the state to ask the governor to put a stop to his acts of tyranny and politics of bitterness, which can lead to breakdown of law and order in the state. In the meantime, we urge the supporters and sympathisers of the Saraki family to remain calm and not take the law into their own hands, although we understand how emotional and embittered they are at the moment. We must allow the law to take its course.

 

If you had the opportunity discuss with Governor Abdulrazaq, how would you advise him on this matter?

The whole of the Kwara community is urging the governor to give the people of the state meaningful developments as part of the reasons he was voted for, instead of using the opportunity to vent his anger against the family of the late icon of Kwara politics. Historically, this property in question has never been in contention with any government, even during the military regime.

We’re alarmed that police claimed ignorance of the demolition —Kola Shittu, Kwara PDP chair
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