Some Miyetti Allah members are kidnapping, living in luxury, building houses in bushes — Adamawa vigilante, youth leader

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Some Miyetti Allah members are kidnapping, living in luxury, building houses in bushes — Adamawa vigilante, youth leader

Sarkin Matasa (youth leader) and vigilante in the Girei Local Government Area, Adamawa State, Saidu Hamma, recently led a protest against the release of kidnap suspects from police custody, one of whom is the leader of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Girei chapter, Ibrahim Jakka. Matasa tells HINDI LIVINUS that Girei will only be safe if Jakka and his gang are rearrested by the police

You recently protested against the release of some kidnap suspects from police custody, what really happened?

We work hand in hand with security agencies, especially the Girei police division. We suspected that some of the suspected kidnappers, whom we assisted in apprehending, were about to be released unconditionally. So we had to mobilise to ensure this never happened. Following the rising spate of kidnapping cases, we (youths) got tired and formed a vigilance group because the government was not helping in addressing insecurity. We patrol the town, using Dane Guns that each volunteer brought with them.

How did you know they were involved in kidnapping?

They are Fulani. They are our cattle rearers. My father owns cows. I’m a Fulani man in the town but they are Fulani people in the bush. When the going was good and we bought cattle, we would call these people to rear them for us. So, we know them. But we have been suspecting them and their activities, so we passed information to security agents. After a directive by the Divisional Police Officer, we went after them in the bush.

Do you have concrete evidence because suspicion is not enough?

We have informants. Those informants are their blood brothers whom we use to monitor and check their (Miyetti Allah) activities. Through our informants, we knew when they went out in the morning and returned at night. Sometimes, they could take as long as two or three days after leaving home, before they returned very late at night.

Secondly, they started living in opulence. They built houses in the bush, which is abnormal for a Fulani man working in the bush. That made us suspicious of their activities. If you are a Fulani man, you don’t build houses in the bush. Instead of being in the bush, they now moved to the city, which is abnormal. That made us to suspect them to be engaged in criminal activities. Our suspicion of their criminal activities now yielded results, so we went to look for them.

How were they caught?

The DPO of Girei Divisional Police Headquarters issued search warrants and their homes were searched. When their homes were searched, we found various arms and ammunition. But we could not get anything at the residence of Ibrahim Jakka, who is the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigerian chairman in Girei Local Government Area. We learnt from his younger brother, Isa, that he is the leader of the kidnapping ring. Ibrahim Jakka was identified as a central figure involved in the clashes between farmers and herders in the area.

Why are you and others vehemently against the earlier release of Jakka and others after their arrest?

It is because our lives are in danger. Secondly, it was not the police that caught them. We led the police to arrest Jakka and his gang to have peace in our community. There was a time when certain members of Jakka’s gang were arrested and taken to the police station and it was Jakka that was responsible for their release.

When a directive was about to be given for the release of some of the suspects arrested, which we got to know about through our sources on the ground, we had to quickly stage the protest which helped to foil the plan. This is a security issue. But the orders came from above. The commissioner of police was given the order. If not for our protest, what happened when Jakka was released after his arrest, along with two members of his gang, would have been repeated.

The first time Jakka was caught with two members of his gang in a market, he boasted after his release that even if he was caught 10 times, he would be set free 10 times. When I learnt about his bail, I led about 30 stakeholders to meet with the commissioner of police.

The CP said he released Jakka because he denied being a kidnapper and promised to help the police arrest his brothers, whom he told the police were the kidnappers.

We later learnt from the CP that Jakka was granted bail (and asked) to bring the kidnappers after being taken to Abuja where he was released three weeks ago. Now, we are looking for Duna, Geide and Double who are relatives of Jakka. One of their brothers died and an informant told us that he spotted the wanted men at Damare.

He also said he spotted Geide, along with Ibrahim Jakka, Duna and Double. All the five wanted men were there, so we mobilised and went to where they were with Operation Farauta (an anti-crime outfit). We caught three of them. Geide, who was second on the police’s wanted list after Duna, was arrested but they left Ibrahim Jakka.

Even after the protest, I went to the commissioner of police to demand the rearrest of Ibrahim Jakka.

Why is the rearrest of Ibrahim Jakka so important to you?

His brother, Isa, has confessed that Jakka collected a ransom of over N1m. He mentioned the place and area. This same brother confessed that Ibrahim Jakka came to collect two AK 47 rifles and ransom from Geide, who was second on the police’s wanted list. Three of his brothers were involved in kidnapping and they have accused him of providing them with arms.

Are you alleging that the leader of the Miyetti Allah in Girei is involved in kidnapping?

Yes. Ibrahim Jakka is the leader of MACBAN in Girei. The link is that three of his blood brothers are suspected kidnappers. His younger brother, Isa, also confessed that he got two AK 47 rifles from Geide and Double.

When you arrested Jakka, did you question him before you handed him over to the police? What did he say?

Jakka said he was not a kidnapper and that he was just being accused falsely. Why should I believe him when he was always together with his brothers, who were kidnappers?

What is your next line of action now that he’s still at large?

Our next line of action is to urge the commissioner of police to order the arrest of Ibrahim Jakka over allegations that he’s in possession of a large cache of weapons used by the notorious kidnappers.

If Jakka is not a kidnapper, then he should be in a position to help the police to bring his brothers to justice.

After the protest, have the police reached out to you?

Yes. According to them, they don’t have the intention of releasing the suspected kidnappers. The commissioner said there was no way the Force could have asked the DPO to release the suspects, and that they were working for peace and order. But they ordered the DPO to relocate the suspect by 6pm to Criminal Investigation Department; that was why we suspected foul play. If you ordered the transfer of the suspects, why not take them in the morning? Why did you have to wait until evening? If I had not been at the police station at the time, the police station could have been burnt.

Now that Jakka and one other suspect are still at large, are you not afraid that you may be targeted?

Of course, yes. I even need the assistance of the commissioner of police for protection. I am an indigene of Girei, I live here and there’s nowhere else for me to go.

Have you engaged the state chapter of the Miyetti Allah to complain and urge them to get rid of the bad eggs among them?

If in my capacity as the leader of the youths, I can take up the gauntlet in fighting crime, I expect other senior stakeholders like the district head to wade into the issue since it involves a leader of

Miyetti Allah. But as I speak to you, there’s indifference. But Girei will not be safe until Ibrahim Jakka and other members of his family suspected to be kidnappers, are arrested and brought to justice.

What do you think can be done to improve security in your area and the state?

If I say the security agencies have not been working, I would be unfair. All what has been achieved has been with the security agencies because we only assist them with information. The state governor is doing well; he gave us five motorbikes for our crime fighting activities. He also gave two vans to the police command in the local government area. One of the vans was used on the day we went to arrest the suspected kidnappers. But I would want to see more motivation from the government and synergy between the security agencies and the vigilance groups in the state.

But if there’s going to be peace in the council, the leadership of Miyetti Allah will have to step in because it is their leader in this council and members of his family who are allegedly behind insecurity in this area.

The government can look for the leadership of Miyetti Allah and seek the attention of traditional institutions so we can sit down and address the issues. We don’t want to believe Jakka’s claim that he only has two AK 47 rifles when we know he’s in possession of a large cache of arms.

Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Adamawa, Rev Lawan Andimi, was recently kidnapped by Boko Haram and a video was recently released. How bad is the security situation in Adamawa now?

The situation is not stable. Just recently, a DPO was kidnapped. Before he was kidnapped, some professors were kidnapped. The situation has been hot and cold. But recently, it improved due to the activities of the Department of State Services, police and other security outfits like Operation Farauta, being supported by the state government.


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