Alhaji Rilwan Hussain a.k.a Yasalam is the chairman, Osun State Police Command Vigilance Group set up in 1989 by the General Ibrahim Babangida regime. The creation was gazetted byÂ the Federal Government and the outfit is registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission. He spoke on wide range of issues with Oluwole Adeboye. Excerpts
Q: Can we call you an alternative to the police at the grassroots?
A: As our name implies, we have never worked independently. The Osun State Police Command is our supervisory body under which we derive our power to operate.Â In other words, we work in partnership with the police to achieve a common goal of a secure state. We often hold meetings with the police at the command headquarters at Okefia, Osogbo, where they lecture us basically on our modus operandi.
Q: What have you achieved so far?
A: With due respect, we have recorded some achievements which I believe has made people that matter in the state to reckon with us. In 2006, on a tip-off, we succeeded in dislodging and arresting some cultists at Federal Polytechnic, Ede. As a result of this, the governing council formally recognised us and integrated us into their security council. Up till today, we still have our ears and eyes on the students of the institution. Also in 2008, my men confronted armed robbers that invaded some banks in Ile-Ife. Although one of our members lost his life, we succeeded in frustrating the robbers. We did same in February 2010, when a gang of armed bandits stormed two banks in Ilesa. Every occasion where weÂ record success, we ensured that we carried the police along. As a matter of rule, we handed over suspects to the police as soon as we catch them, seeing armed robbers irritate us.
Q: Can you clarify the issue of two vigilance groups in Osun?
A: There is nothing to clarify there except you still need more details about what I told you at the beginning of this interview. I said our group was set up to complement the efforts of the police. The other group you mentioned are not recognised by the police. That is why they are one of the outlawed security agencies in the state. The state police command issued a release which contained the names of security agencies that were prohibited from operating in the state.
Q: There must have been some rivalry between your group and the other?
A: As far as we are concerned, there is nothing like rivalry. Rivalry over what? Our activities have justified the police trust and confidence in us, so, we focus on the assignment at hand. That is why we have not allowed anybody to distract us.
Q: After the ban, it was learnt that you had a meeting with the founder of the other group in Kaduna?
A: It is true, Chief Jimoh Aliu facilitated the meeting. He came to my house and met my members. I told him the truth about the group and I think he was impressed because I always back my point with relevant documents. He promised to reach me later, which he did. When I travelled to Abuja for a meeting, we arranged for meeting with Alhaji Sokoto in Kaduna. The man is old now but a nice man. He personally called me when I arrived Abuja for the Kaduna meeting. His deputy, AlhajiÂ Lafiaji, was present at the meeting, they are all nice people. The old man narrated how some people exploited him in the name of vigilance group. He said he had spent about N99 million to ensure that his group was recognised. He mentioned one Alhaji Lawal, who used to collect money from him for the registration with the Federal Government.
During the discussion, I told him point blank that his group had been banned. He accepted this and expressed his willingness to work with my group. I told him that he needed to go to the police to seek registration of his members. He even said because of his old age, he would want me to coordinate the group at national level.
Q: What are the challenges you have so far faced?
A: One of the challenges is the issue of bad eggs. But I can tell you that we deal with them accordingly whenever they are caught. We donâ€™t only deal with them, we sack them and hand them over to the police. Another challenge is politicians. You know them; they want you to do their bidding. But if you maintain your neutrality as one who is after the security of the entire state, they will say you are working for another party. I donâ€™t discourage my members from belonging to a party of their choice but I always warn them not to allow politics to influence their duty as vigilance group.