Oyo State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof Oyelowo Oyewo has revealed the strategy used by the state in the very volatile security situation of the state.
In an exclusive interview with Gavel International recently, Prof Oyewo, a former Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos said: “It is only Amotekun you know about, you don’t know about Irumole”. Amotekun is the Security Network established by the governors of the South Western states to take care of the security challenges of the geo-political zone.
Prof Oyewo shortly after the end of the three day conference of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest Law(NBA-SPIDEL) in Ibadan, Oyo State recently.
Irumole in Yoruba parlance is a myriad of deities that exists in the worldview of the Yoruba people. They possess spiritual powers that control the affairs of the people.
Asked whether he is referring to the spirit beings, Prof Oyewo explained what he meant by Irumole. “When we faced the issue of insecurity, the governors of the Southwest got together, and came up with a regional network- the Western Nigerian Security Network- which was the brainchild of the governors, giving the mandate to the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria(DAWN) Commission; It this mandate that gave birth to AMOTEKUN. I tell you, there’s been a positive impact of the activities of the AMOTEKUN. We also have inter-agencies collaboration that we call ‘Operation Bust’;
And then, governor Seyi Makinde also believes in involving the totality of non-government actors, integrating them into activities that hitherto have been mainly dominated by governmental actors.
So non-governmental actors are brought in, because they too are stakeholders. Traditional rulers, local governments,there have been so many levels. I made a joke that when we talk about AMOTEKUN, it’s only AMOTEKUN we see, we don’t see IRUMOLE;
Irunmole actually are those people who are not engaged formally, but are engaged informally because of their knowledge of the terrain, and some other things that help to secure their environment. So they bring the intelligence to AMOTEKUN, the information is then passed to the police Operation Bust. I remembered that when some herders were causing havoc in some forests, it was these people that were backed up by AMOTEKUN and Operation Bust, that were able to dislodge those herders from the Ibarapa that you talked about”.
Prof Oyewo further talked about the controversy that surrounded the arrest of some Odua Peoples Congress(OPC) officials that were detained after arresting Iskilu Wakili, the Fulani herdsman believed to be behind Fulani bandits that operate in the Ibarapa area of the state. The OPC operatives were detained and subsequently transferred to the Police headquarters in Abuja. The OPC members were released some days ago. This interview was conducted three weeks before the release.
However, the Attorney General explained the situation. “There is nothing that goes on in the state that the state doesn’t get involved in. There was a lot of misinformation on social media in respect to this particular saga. It was in ibarapa. I think some people who had been settlers as Hausa-Fulani selling cows in that area, I think one of them-the children in collaboration with people there started engaging in kidnapping. There is an adage that says if the wall doesn’t open its mouth, the wall gecko cannot enter it. From security reports, for most of those activities, indigines are involved too. At the end of the day, when OPC went there- although they didn’t go alone. I think they went there with some other agencies, and at the end of the day, those people were arrested;
Now, the challenge is which story to believe. Some said they killed a pregnant woman, but there was no direct evidence of it, the OPC that went claimed that they were involved in kidnappings and it was said that ‘okay, where is the evidence?’ .
So it became an evidential burden to produce direct eyewitness accounts, it was the storytelling. But at the end of the day, the administration waded in and with the collaboration with the police, I think the matter has been put in proper perspective. Those that are meant to be released have been released, those who require further investigation are being investigated, and those to be prosecuted, if not for the JUSUN strike, we would have been able to release the names of those to be prosecuted”.
Prof Oyewo traced the Ibarapa problems mainly to economic activities, which is not unusual with towns and villages located around borders. There are certain problems that are perennial, for instance, due to poverty, they are some areas of the border that are notorious for smuggling, and there’s always a constant crisis between the smugglers and the men of Customs, the police, and this has nothing to do with tribe or anything, it’s just economics. Because those people’s lives are dependent on bringing rice from the border, so if our governance doesn’t bring about security and economic advancement it becomes a problem”, he said further.
The Attorney General praised the insight of Governor Makinde in tackling security challenges and also providing social amenities for the people.
He said: “The gift that Oyo state has is in the leadership of Governor Seyi Makinde who is highly cerebral, endowed with experience, calm in the face of problems, and reflective to a point that can sometimes be exasperating. He thinks ten steps ahead, so when you bring a problem to him, he’s not going to have a knee jerk reaction to it, and he has a comprehensive approach to problems that makes the solution look easy”.
Prof Oyewo said his ministry has been able to provide legal content to all government projects, by drafting the law that guides such projects. The Ministry of Justice is playing a Synergistic role with the other main ministries directly in charge. So when it comes to education, there’s nothing contractual that they want to do that we are not involved in. Health, of course we get to give them legal advice, in fact we passed the covid legislation to help them with their activities. Security wise, we drafted the law that gave birth to AMOTEKUN, and when it comes to the economy, of course the Oyo state Public-Private Partnership Agency is interacting with us. So there is the synergetic approach to the performance of our duties that collaborate, complement and comprehensively deliver on the promise of this administration to the people of Oyo state”.
Watch out for the full interview on Friday