Adetunji Adeleye, the Ondo State Commander of Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN), codenamed Amotekun, has disclosed that the major challenges confronting the agency within the last three and half years of its creation is inadequate weapons to match what the miscreants and criminals confronting its operatives are carrying.
Adeleye, who disclosed this during an interactive session organised by the state Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), tagged; “The Platform”, however, said upon the challenges, the agency was not deterred.
He said; “Amotekun, very adequately, work with other security agencies in the state. The synergy encompass operational, strategy, and intelligence gathering at the grassroot level and I must tell you that it has been yielding great results.
“But some of the challenges we face a result of inadequate equipment has resulted and caused very precious lives of some of our men. And we remain determined as we pledged to sacrifice”.
The Amotekun boss, who doubles as the Special Adviser (Security Matters) to the state governor, also disclosed that the agency has arrested no fewer than 7,000 criminals across the state within the last three and half years of its creation.
According to him, out of the 7,000 arrested, about 1,500 of them have been charged to court and it has secured judgement of many of them while the crisis of farmers/herders clashes has reduced by over 95 percent in the last two years.
“By the time we took off, within two weeks, we received over 5,000 petitions of herders/farmers clashes. It was becoming impossible for farmers to go to their farms completely, for fear of herders molesting, kidnapping, maiming or killing them. It was becoming very difficult for civil servants to board a taxi across the town without being kidnapped, molested or robbed daylight. The worse was climbing on Okada.
“The first area of attack by Amotekun was the herders/farmers clashes. We started by mass public enlightenment that farmers have the right to plant and herders the right to rear their cows but they don’t have the right to infringe on the business of the other one and after this, we called the meeting of the Miyetti Allah group in the state and South West and we explained the position of the corps, giving a deadline after which we announced that we will commence enforcement.
“To the glory of God, our first operation, we found out that even within Alagbaka GRA where government house and office is located, over 500 cows were house the promises that was forcefully taken over from a widow and all efforts in the last five years at that time for the widow to recover met with stiff opposition from the herdsmen with a final warning that if she dare comes there again, they will bury her alive in the premises.
“So, we followed suit and we were able to arrest over 200 of the cows, the owner and the owners of the farmlands that were destroyed around the place came for compensation because we made sure that in compliance with the position of the state government, they paid for whatever they destroyed.
“In the next few days we were able to arrest a thousand cows from the Owena dam around Igbara-oke. We also made sure that upon negotiation between the farmers/herders, they paid for whatever they destroyed before releasing their cows to them.
“The good story about it is that, at a point in time, the government came up with an anti-open grazing law which further enhances our position in enforcement and the terms of the law was clear- No underage grazing, no night grazing, no grazing on the major roads to cause accident, no grazing in the metropolis and all forms of transportation of cows, trailers and trucks should be used.
“The punishment ranges from several months imprisonment and payment of fines including the cost of logistics of the enforcement. Two years after, the issue of farmers/herders clashes reduced by over 95 percent. We only have pockets of clashes and of course, they know the implication.
“We had taken quite a number of erring herders to court. We’ve equally taken farmers who took laws into their hands and seized Fulani cows to court for stealing. This is to show the position of government that herders have a right to their herds but not at the expense of farmers or any other members of the society”, he said.
The corps commander pointed that the implementation of the anti-open grazing law in the state was also a added advantage for the agency, stressing that Amotekun has never gotten involved in any partisan politics since its creation.
The Chairman of the Council of Amotekun Commanders in South-West recalled that the corps which was founded on January 9, 2020 in Ibadan, Oyo State, as the first regional security outfit, initiated by the governors of the geopolitical zone has recorded tremendous success in checkmating criminal activities in the region.
His words; “The support of our sister security agencies, particularly, the DSS has often assisted us in getting the requisite geo-location of kidnap victims and suspects. All these coupled with our local intellect and unconventional methods had assisted us in arresting to date, well over 7,000 suspected criminals out of which 1,500 of them have been charged to court.
“We’ve even secured judgement of very many of them. At a time when the turnout of criminals was becoming unmanageable for the judiciary, the government of Oluwarotimi Akeredolu graciously approved the building of two courts to assist the judiciary in prompt dispensation of justice.
“We are all living witnesses to the fact that today, Ondo State rank one of the safest state in this country. What we have right now in Ondo State is pockets of violence in boarder areas and in response to this, the government has directed, in which we’ve implemented some of them now, putting in place, offices and control points in Imoru, Ijagba axis to take care of kidnapping and violence around Ose local government while Jugbere is to take care of the Akure North and we are proposing three other strategic ones, such that by the end of the year, all our porous boarder villages and towns will be adequately covered by the activities of the corps.”
Adeleye, however, said the birth of the Amotekun Corps in the South-West region has made the Ondo state to be adjudged one of the most peaceful state in the country.