Chief Alex Etukokwu is an Ex-officio member of Anambra State Association of Vigilante Group (ASAVG), Managing Director of Etulex Security Services Limited and the proprietor of Top Ten Hotels, Oba, Idemili South Local Government Area. The Ambassador of Peace and Anambra State Coordinator of International Association of Peace Advocates and a Tactical Intelligence Personnel (TIP), California, under Global Service Corps, United States of America (USA) in an interview with newsmen, explained why there is currently a drastic fall in statistical data of crime rate in Anambra South Senatorial Zone in particular and the entire state in general, which has invariably placed Anambra as the safest state in the country, in terms of security of lives and properties. He spoke to CHUKS EKE. Excerpts:
ON GRASSROOTS security
As an Ambassador of Peace and Anambra State Coordinator of International Association of Peace Advocates and a Tactical Intelligence Personnel (TIP), California, under Global Service Corps, United States of America (USA), I was motivated to contribute towards grassroots security because as a philanthropist, I like to be identified with any good and worthwhile venture.
Grassroots security is the only hope for the masses due to the fact that the Police, Army, D.S.S., Navy and Air force cannot do it alone. The level of insecurity in Nigeria should give every right-thinking man sleepless nights. On that basis, I decided to contribute my widow’s mite to the programme at hand.
Without mincing words, Anambra State is one of the safest states in Nigeria. The incumbent governor, His Excellency, Willie Obiano must be commended for a good job over the years. Anambra South Senatorial Zone is also quite calm.
However, it is not yet uhuru because crimes such as cultism, drug addiction, touting and pick pocketing seem to be resurfacing here and there all over the state. There is no room for complacency which appears to be the case for some time now.
On sustenance of current security network
The solution to the sustenance of the current security network is very simple. It is funding, funding and more funding. Both the government and communities must fund grassroots security adequately. Security is a capital intensive project. All hands must be on deck. Philanthropists like me should come out and help out.
Government is trying but there is room for improvement. It is good to support Police, Army, D.S.S., NSCDC, Navy, among others but grassroots security should not be relegated to the background.
I don’t need to blow my own trumpet. Anything I contribute is not for public consumption because in security matters, there is need for utmost confidentiality. As far as I am concerned, anyway I can assist, I will do so without any hesitation.
I simply see Retired Commissioner of Police, Chief Ikechukwu Ayo Aduba, the incumbent Chairman of Anambra State Vigilante Supervisory Committee and Special Adiver to Governor Willie Obiano on Vigilante Matters as God-sent. He has used his wealth of experience to make Anambra State Vigilante Group (A.V.G.) vibrant and professional in outlook.
Frankly speaking, I became interested in participatory security when CP Ikechukwu Ayo Aduba (Rtd) came on board. Here is a man who served his country with distinction for 33 years and became a five-time Commissioner of Police before retirement in 2014. Then he was asked to serve his home state and he agreed to do so. If such a man volunteered to serve his state, why should I not identify with his initiatives as far as grassroots security is concerned?
The era of illegality which was synonymous with vigilante services is truly over. There is a structure now and division of labour too. However, with better support from the government, communities and individuals, he will perform much better but we must know that without an enabling working environment, not even a magician can perform miracles.
It is not going to be easy but with the co-operation of people like Chief Romm Ezeonwuka, the incumbent Coordinator of ASAVG, Anambra South and Special Adviser to Governor on Vigilante Matters; CSP Sunday Anaenyeonwu (Rtd), Chief Maduka Atueyi and many others, the job will be easier. It is a collective responsibility and not about an individual. With a sense of patriotism, we can take Anambra South Senatorial zone to the next level as far as grassroots security is concerned.
Apart from being in hospitality business, I am also into security by virtue of my being the Managing Director of Etulex Security Services. My appointment as an Ex-officio Member of Anambra State Association of Vigilante Groups (ASAVG), Anambra South Senatorial zone was as a result of my contributions to grassroots security.
There is no perfect security situation anywhere in the world. In Anambra State, people are not forthcoming with vital information to help security agents carry out their duties.
Further, there are many unregistered and faceless vigilante units operating illegally in the state. There is no Task Force from A.V.G. Headquarters to mop them up. These are some of the notable lapses in the state security system.
On way forward
My advice is general in nature. There is much work to be done in terms of security. Both parties should intensify efforts so as to maintain the momentum. On the part of government, A.V.G. should be empowered in order to achieve their objectives.
As for security managers, they should avoid being over-zealous or allowing those under them to engage in illegal acts capable of tarnishing the image of A.V.G.
Before I joined security services, I traveled to Congo Brazaville, studied medicine and qualified as a Medical Assistant Officer, which gave the desire to join International Red Cross Society in Cong Brazaville and it was while still in Congo that I obtained the Tactical Intelligence Personnel (TIP) certificate from Global Service Corps, California, USA, as an international tourist which enabled me to become a hotelier and to engage in hospitality business.
Presently, I am the Commandant of Idemili South Local Government Division of Vigilante Group of Nigeria (VGN), Anambra State Command. I learnt French language in Congo and Cameroun countries and I speak French fluently.
As a hotelier who knows that criminals lodge in hotels, I felt I would not cherish criminals lodging in my own hotel as a Godly man. I decided to fight crime. I even volunteered to give N100,000 to any of my hotel staff who exposed a criminal coming into my hotel or anywhere else.
That instruction yielded many results as I have sent many suspects to the police. Three of my staff have even won N100,000 each and we have arrested criminals and handed over to the police through our CCTV.
When I came back to Nigeria from French countries like Congo Brazaville and Cameroun, I still had in mind to join security and to do that, I started asking questions as to who is who in security in Anambra State in particular and Nigeria in general.
More than 100 persons commented on one name and that name is Chief Ikechukwu Ayo Aduba whom I never knew before. When they mentioned the name to me, I started searching for him until I got connected to where he lives. I went to him with my squad and introduced myself to him.
After his inquiries, he told me he was satisfied with my introduction, He invited me and and I went and gave him my letter of partnership which showed that I always say no to crime. After going through my letter, he accepted me as one of his boys and consequently, appointed me as Ex-officio of ASAVG in charge of Anambra South Zone.
This has reflected to the English adage which states that the evil men do lives after them and the good men do also lives after them. I learnt that there is a Vigilante Task Force in existence in Anambra State which is headed by one Ethel and I also learnt that he has been doing his best in terms of checkmating the activities of vigilante operatives but government has to empower more, since his job is not enough because they are human beings.
Right now, we need more vehicles to cover the seven local government areas and nine autonomous communities of Anambra South Zone. Possibly, we need more than one vehicle to deliver. I will always make my personal financial contributions to get the work going. Already, we have informants all over the place and that is why we need more than one vehicle.
We have arrested as many criminals as possible with evidences and handed over to DPO at Ojoto when Oba was still under Ojoto Police Division and now that Oba has its own division, I have equally handed many criminal suspects over to DPO and that was why the rate of crime has reduced drastically as a result of my N100,000 price tag on any one who exposed a criminal.
In one of the occasions, a guest in my hotel was seen spending lavishly on drinks and a lady he lodged with in my hotel saw how scattered his money was inside his bag and apparently remembering my N100,000 price tag for any one who exposed a criminal, she called my line from the hotel room and informed me that the guest was spending lavishly and that the money in his bag were scattered.
I quickly directed my vigilante commander to arrest the guest and after his arrest and handing over to the police at Oba and he was interrogated, behold, he confessed to his crimes and the rest was left for the police to handle.
Personally, I can see that Governor Obiano is doing his job but we need him to recognise the vigilante more. I can say that the leadership of Anambra State Vigilante Supervisory Committee led by Retired CP Aduba is so organised that those initial recommendations to me about Aduba by more than 100 persons is quite genuine.
So, I started asking questions as to who is who in Nigerian security.