No sanctuary in Kwara for criminals fleeing from Amotekun - Yinka Aluko
Special Adviser on Special Duties to Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara state, Alhaji Ahmed Yinka Aluko is a renowned security expert. Popularly called "Home boy" by his teaming admirers, Aluko had his first degree in statistics, had his masters in security and strategic studies and is currently studying for his doctorate degree in Security and Strategic Management at the University of Ilorin. Before venturing into politics he had worked in the banking sector, accounting firm as well as defunct National Electric Power Authority, NEPA.
Before now, he served as Special Adviser on Security to Dr Bukola Saraki when he was governor of Kwara state for eight years and also had a brief stint with the immediate past administration before he politically fell apart with Saraki political dynasty. He contested twice for Kwara Central Senatorial seat but lost. He was also a running mate to Senator Simeon Ajibola as the PDP gubernatorial candidate against Alh Abdulfatah Ahmed fielded by Dr Bukola Saraki but also lost. He later joined the "O to ge" political movement that swept away the Sarakis political dynasty.
The state government recently organized a security summit where all the stakeholders brainstormed on the way forward in the state in view of the security challenges in the country. After the summit, Yinka Aluko spoke with selected journalists in Ilorin on efforts being made by Governor AbdulRazaq to provide effective security for the residents.
What is the present administration doing to ensure adequate provision of security for the residents?
We all know that there are various security challenges in the country particularly in the North East, every region has its own peculiar security challenge. In the north you have religious crisis, farmers/herdsmen clashes; in the South-West you have chieftaincy and land disputes. The same thing goes for the eastern part of the country. Those are predominantly traditional system of crimes. But all over the world security challenges are dynamic just as we say that crimes and criminalities are dynamic. One of the primary responsibilities of any government is security of lives and property. And no government can operate in an atmosphere of chaos and insecurity. Coming back to Kwara state, the state remains one of the most peaceful in the country. However, that is not to say that we don't have pockets of crime here and there. I remember the first issue of kidnapping we ever had was few years ago and some other crimes. The security challenge peculiar to us here is house-breaking, bank robbery.
The government in place now has realized more than before, that there is the need to ensure adequate security, protection of lives and property. Because we have realized the various security challenges in ur neighbouring states, this has made the government to take proactive measures.
When Amotekun becomes fully operational in the South-West, it will push criminals out of the area and Kwara shares borders with some of these states. If you look at Niger state, there is a pocket of Boko Haram and herdsmen menace there. That has been driving some of the people to come and live in Kwara because it is peaceful. Realizing all this, all the north central states agreed to adopt Community policing which is the best for us. Community policing involves the immediate community members. The people will be part of protecting lives and property and making governance very easy. That is what informed the security dialogue the state government and other stakeholders had recently so that all the stakeholders will carry the message back to their various communities; as well as come up with agents that will collaborate with security agencies.
You talked about community policing, what are you doing to ensure active participation of the residents to ensure its success?
To eradicate crimes and criminality, the most important thing is intelligence gathering. Information gives security agents the opportunity to nip crime in the bud and at the same time to make arrest of criminals in their area. Very soon, we will release dedicated telephone lines to the public where information about security threats can be sent and such information would be quickly sent to the appropriate security agency for prompt action. This step became necessary because we all know that security should not be left in the hands of the government alone. Without the collaboration and support of the citizens who live in the state, security will not be assured. Information is power and when you don't have information, you are as good as dead. That was why we held the summit, sensitizing the people and why the government is putting structures in place.
What other steps has the government taken?
Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has approved the overhaul of the state security outfit 'Operation Harmony' to give room for the vigilance groups who are more effective in the hinterland so that they can collaborate with security agents. In recent time we had influx of people to the state from the states where Okada riding has been banned. The state government is strategizing on how to regulate the activities of okada riders. Currently, the riders have seven associations in the state.
We are looking at a situation where they can be reduced to three for effective and proper management where we will have digital and comprehensive register of all those who are involved. This will enable us have proper documentation and statistics of the operators in the state. They will be given identity card and common uniform to be able to distinguish them. Tricycles are in the same category with the okada riders. All of them must be fully registered. There must not be any freelance tricycle rider he must have a base.
Will you suggest to Kwara and other north central states to toe the path of the South-West states by coming up with their own security outfit?
No. I mentioned that the South-West in their wisdom decided to come up with a security outfit known as Amotekun. It is a function of nomenclature and the law backing it up, but there is no security outfit that is better than community policing. Community policing involves not only people in the urban centres but people from the hinterland. Without collaboration with the people in the community, even if you send a patrol team of Amotekun to a community and there is no information about that community the security personnel will not succeed. Crimes are not committed in the open. You will discover that for Amotekun to be successful it will still do community policing. Each and every state in the South West before now had its own security outfit; just like we have 'operation harmony' here in Kwara state. That is why we are saying that while we are doing normal community policing with the Nigeria police and other security agencies, the Operation Harmony outfit will be overhauled in such a manner that it will be in all the nooks and crannies of the state. As a step towards that the state governor recently donated patrol vehicles for proper patrolling of the state to ĎOperation Harmonyí security outfit. And a lot of them are still coming, to ensure that the outfit lives up to expectation. We are planning ahead so that criminals that run away from the South West will not find sanctuary in our state. We donít want to be caught unawares.
Donít you think that poverty is a major cause of insecurity in the country?
Poverty is a bad menace but it is not an excuse for someone to go into crime particularly sophisticated crimes. You meet people who are graduates, people who are highly intelligent in sophisticated crimes.
They can use their intellect to do productive things that can fetch them money than crime. For instance you cannot say it is poverty that has pushed yahoo yahoo boys into committing internet fraud. Neither can you say it is poverty that has propelled those engaged in armed robbery into it. It is all about getting rich quick. We are moving towards a situation where graduates will be prepared to be employers of labour rather than job seekers.
We know it is not easy, that was why the first thing Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq did was to initiate Social Re-investment bill designed to give empowerment to our teeming youths and women as a response to the absence of white collar jobs. Women need little support to keep body and soul together.
Do the traditional rulers and religious leaders have any role to play in all these?
There will be roles for traditional rulers and religious leaders because the current government in the state realizes the importance of traditional rulers and religious leaders in community policing. That was why they were invited to the recent security dialogue convened by the state government. At the summit they were given the opportunity to appraise the security situation in their immediate communities, the challenges there and the likely solutions. In community policing system, traditional rulers and community leaders are approached to provide them with credible agents that will collaborate with security agents. The community leaders, traditional rulers, religious leaders, market women and Okada rider associations will be involved. We have emphasized to keep the identity of every information provider in absolute secrecy and confidentiality; because that has always been the fear of the people. Adequate phone numbers will be provided that the informant may not even need to interface with anybody to volunteer genuine information.
How will vigilance groups and hunters function in community policing?
Earlier, I mentioned about the harmonized interaction with the vigilance groups and hunters. We realized most of them are much effective in the hinterland. Apart from the fact that they are part of the communities, we are taking community policing back to the community because we want the hand of the law to be in tandem with the local vigilance groups and hunters. When there is proper interaction at the level of community policing, the training acquired by the security agencies will rub off on the vigilance groups and hunters apart from the normal training they will be subjected to.
They are not only going to be involved in community policing, they will be involved in the security outfit designed by the state to curb crimes and criminality. Over the years they have been protecting some installations here and there, but they too can do patrol, get information and arrest criminals.
Like I say that security is dynamic, so is crime dynamic because serious criminalities have moved away from the cities where you have heavy presence of security agencies to the hinterland. And the need to take security to the grassroots involves community policing. It is a response to the increase in crime wave. With community policing members of the community will be sensitized and made to provide information that will assist in arresting criminals.