â€¦Once I see a man, I will know if heâ€™s a terrorist or robber, he says
Heâ€™s neither a soldier nor a policeman. In fact, Alhaji Shehu Musa Aljan is not a member of any security agency. Yet, through some unconventional means, this man has been arresting those giving Plateau citizens sleepless nights, handing them over to the Special Task Force on Jos crisis (STF).His name, Aljan, in Hausa, means spirit. And he says by merely looking at a criminal, he could identify and disarm him. He told Daily Sun that heâ€™s a Nigerian working to save the country from criminals. The story is better told by Aljan himself.
I grew up in Bauchi but I am an indigene of Kaduna State. I was born in Jagidin Gari, in Jammah Local Government area but I grew up in Bauchi. There is nowhere in Nigeria that I have not gone to work. The nation is facing a serious problem with militia groups that steal, kill and destroy. This situation needs all and sundry to assist.
For long, I have been going into the hinterlands to track down those causing trouble for the country, yet nobody has ever paid me a kobo for the job. Even the military has not been doing the job I am doing for the country. I go on my own to bring armed robbers to them. I do not go with any of their men to effect arrest. I go with men under me to places that the security forces cannot penetrate and bring them out for law to take its course. We know how we smoke them out of their hideouts.
Operation in Plateau State
The head of the Special Task Force on Jos crisis (STF) in Plateau is hard working, a nice person. We work hand in hand. When I go out on our operations in the night, he keeps awake till we are through with the operation. I have no relationship with the government of Plateau State. I am not into politics. But the state government is not offended by what I am doing here because it wants peace. Since I started working in Plateau, I have arrested about 28 people with their ammunition and stolen cattle. They confessed that they are not working alone but are being hired by people to commit all these atrocities. It is not only the Fulani doing all these destructions. They are of different tribes working together in teams. There are Fulani, Berom and (Yargan) Taroh, all working together to do the attacks. They have people they report to. After carrying out successful operations, they have their agents and sponsors who receive and sell all the loot. They are Nigerians and are residents of those places where these atrocities are taking place. Like the arrest we made recently in Kurgwi, all of them that took part in the attack are from Plateau. I caught them with their ammunition, brought them here and handed them over to STF.
It not true that some of those arrested are not thieves but innocent cattle owners going about with their cows in the bush. From their shoes, caps or anything on them, we can detect them. I do not need to be told who the assailants are before I know them. By mere seeing them I know who they are. If the Nigerian government wants peace, let it enter into alliance with those of us using traditional methods to detect criminals. Our groups exist in different parts of the country. By so doing, all these attacks would be minimized. Money is being wasted unnecessarily in funding soldiers and those of us that have our own traditional ways of solving these problems are dying of hunger. I can boldly say that what I have done in two months, the security men have not done in the last 12 years. There is someone they have been looking for in the past six years, I was the one that went and arrested him. I arrested him in Riyom. I have arrested many, close to 30. I first arrested 16. Then I brought five. And recently, I arrested six with their ammunition.
I was not employed by the Plateau State government to do this work. I have never sat with Governor Jang. I do not know him and he does not know me. But with what we have done, all the arrests we have made of different tribes, everyone is appreciating us. Even the Fulani are thanking God that they now live in peace. Now they know where their problem lies. If you hear people making complaints about what we are doing, it is because their own clique among the thieves has been arrested. There are traditional heads that are themselves thieves. There are people who cannot make it in life unless there is trouble. These are the people working assiduously so that there will be no peace in the country, so that they can make their money. But there are still people yearning for peace. A Fulani man with his cows will not want trouble. A Berom man with his business and chain of houses would want peace but a person that has nothing will want trouble because he eats from the spoils of war.
People can see the arrest I am making, so no one can say I am not working. If there is any need for me, government can call me if they want. I am a Nigerian and ready to serve anytime. It is God that would reward me. If not for the love of the people, I will not be doing this job. I learnt the job from our boss, the late Lawal in Mambilla in Taraba State. For months, we will be in the bush with our boss getting trained.
Why the police arrested me.
I was arrested by the Plateau State Police Command and kept for about seven days. But it happened because of the insincerity of the police. They betrayed me. The Inspector General of Police, M.D. Abubakar is someone that wants a honest job. But there are some few people under him who are using his name to commit many atrocities. I have worked with the Commissioner of Police in Plateau before now. Before I started working with him, I had an agreement with him. I told him, I will work with you in this state but you must realize that once we start arresting offenders, their agents in the force will start making complaints. We asked him if he would always stand by us, and he said yes. He gave me some members of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) to work with me. We were working with them as a team. The first day I went to seize ammunition and brought them to him, he was so pleased that he gave me an award. The second time, those we arrested were the ones bringing ammunition to Plateau from Libya through Niger Republic. When we arrested them and brought them to him, among those arrested was his DPO. He questioned the suspects, and one of them said it was his job to bring in weapons.
I thought I had done a good job and left. Then some policemen came and met me and said the IG had asked that I should be arrested. I asked what my offence was, they said they did not know. So, I followed them. I was kept with the criminals I arrested in a cell. But later, one senior officer said they should not put me together with the criminals. I was then moved to where police officers were being detained. That was where I spent seven days. They came to ask me to write a statement and I said I would not write any statement until I saw the IG. I said there would be no peace if the criminals were released and I was kept in detention. But I only allowed myself to be arrested. If they are up to 1000 and I do not want them to arrest me, they cannot.
While I was there, I was able to get a phone number with which I contacted my people, and they came with lawyers. That was how I left the cell. Up till today I have not seen the commissioner again.
Since then, when I come back from my expeditions, I liaise with STF or the State Security Service (SSS). I have handed over 20 criminals and suspects to them. I have caught people with cattle, with guns, those going to attack villages, and handed them all to STF. The IG will not say I should be arrested because he knows what I am doing on the Plateau. But I have touched the clique of some policemen and they wanted me punished. You know all these people have their own agents. There are some car thieves that confessed to me that they pay returns to some people.
My days in Kaduna
After that, I was in Kaduna where, within five months, I arrested about 17 armed robbers with their ammunitions. There again, there was some manoeuvrings and the police again said the IG was looking for me.
I was never arrested in Kaduna. I was asked to report at the force headquarters. I was ready to go before anybody there because I have nothing to fear. But there are some policemen that are fond of using the IGâ€™s name to commit atrocities. If you touch those criminals working for them, you become their enemies. The next thing, they will be threatening you with the IG.
There was a case in Abuja, and they said it was IG that asked them to arrest me. When we got there, he said it was in Kaduna that they asked for my arrest and when we got to Kaduna, the commissioner said he did not know about it. When we were taken to court, the judge dismissed the case. I did not even take the oath.
Me receive money from criminals? Never!
How is it possible, with the soldiers knowing my movement, for me to release offenders after I have arrested them? All those I have been arresting, I have been handing them over to the soldiers. If the police, soldiers, Customs and all of us that come out are said to be receiving money from criminals and allowing them to get away, then who will be left to do the job? If one adds bribery to oneâ€™s job, then one has destroyed oneself.
Criminals being released after arrest
It is quite true that some of those we had arrested are usually seen parading the streets soon after, going about as free men, There were some men we arrested in possession of guns and army uniforms, and we saw them again in a market in Jengri. That is the problem we have. Sometimes you feel that there is no need to arrest those people.
Solution to attacks in Plateau villages
We experience burning of houses and killing of people in the villages because large number of people there lack a means of livelihood. The Berom and Fulani have been together for close to 100 years, with the Fulani owning their cows and the Berom owning their landed properties. Will the Fulani just wake up one day to start burning houses and cars of the Berom or will the Berom just start killing cattle of the Fulani? That is not possible. There are people in government coming to bail criminals. It is annoying seeing arrested criminals walking the streets as free men.