He once walked through the valley of the shadow of death but came out unscathed.
Prince Segun Akanni ex- Personal Assistant and later Chief of Staff to Aare Gani Adams, who is the National Coordinator of Oodua Peoples Congress, (OPC) and now the 15th Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land, says he has everything to be grateful to His creator.
In December 2018, he was ‘sacked’ by his former boss Aare Adams, on allegation of ‘dining with his boss’ enemy (Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu)’. Six months later, precisely June 5, 2019, Akanni was attacked in Gbagada, Lagos by a mob whom he suspected were sent by his former boss to eliminate him. Adams has since denied the allegation and has even gone further to institute a legal battle with his erstwhile godson.
It’s exactly a year when Akanni escaped from his attackers, albeit by hair’s breath. To celebrate the first anniversary of the horrid experience, Akanni, The Publisher of The Drum Online Media who has since relocated to Canada to join his family for fear of being attacked again, maintains that his former boss orchestrated the attack and he is still after his life.
In this interview, Akanni who claims he has put 21 years of his lifetime in OPC and 17 as Adams’ Man Friday, bears it all. It is simply as explosive as irresistible!
How did you feel exactly a year after that attempted assassination?
Sincerely, I don’t know how to thank God for sparing my life over series of attacks against me, most especially that of June 5, 2019, which I will describe as a ‘miraculous escape’. I return all the glory and honor to Almighty God because I would have been dead but for his grace. Every June 5 will forever remain a memorable day in my life. A lot have gone through a similar incident.
You were in Nigeria when this happened. Did you ever see it coming?
Before the attack of June 5, my house in Magboro, Ogun State had been attacked and ransacked twice. I reported the incidents at Ibafo Police Station. The records are still there till tomorrow but the police couldn’t do anything. The good thing was that neither me, nor any of my brothers were at home on the two occasions.
When those two attempts failed, I started contacting some monarchs and personalities who are close to my former boss Aare Gani Adams to talk to him because I knew where the attacks were coming from. I did not get any feedback from them, so I resorted to hiding here and there.
Did you have a premonition?
A month before the attack, I got a tip off that Aare Gani Adams was accusing some OPC (Oodua Peoples Congress, a Yoruba socio-cultural organisation which Adams remains a National Coordinator till date) members of allowing me to walk freely, that if it was when OPC was still OPC, Segun Akanni would have been a dead man. I never believed such statement could come from someone I diligently served wholeheartedly for almost 17 years as well as followed blindly for about 22 years with all my life being put at risk.
I called a prominent royal father and told him of the statements he (Aare Adams) uttered. He promised to reach out to him which I believed he did. In the evening of that day, I was attacked in Gbagada, immediately called the same royal father and narrated everything to him, he was speechless. The only comments he made was: “Ahhhhhh, Segun!!! You said there was a plan to attack, now I believe you. Where are you now?” I told him I was still hiding somewhere before going to the hospital.
Be sincere, was there anybody you offended or defrauded that you felt was after your life?
I’ve never involved in any dubious or shady deals to think of someone whom I had dealt with was after my life. My ways are pure but I knew the attacks were from my former boss, Aare Gani Adams. I said this because I don’t think that position is meant to sniff out the lives of people.
Could you recall how you parted ways with your former boss?
It all started on Monday December 3rd, 2018. I was in his (Adams) house at Omole Phase II. As usual, we were preparing to go to Ajah for a meeting. I was chatting in the lobby of his house with a popular Nollywood Actor. Aare just came to where we were and asked me to leave his house and pack all my things. He alleged me of holding a meeting with Chief Femi Davies (Mr Femi Davies was a friend to Aare and a Publisher of Metronewsonline) on Wednesday November 28th, 2018, and another one on Sunday December 2 at 1 a:m.
Aare Adams said Niyi (one of his staff in the office who was sick and was then at home) was also there in the meeting. I’ve never met with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (former Lagos State Governor and National Leader of APC) for once; only Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola (a two-time governor of Osun State) knows me.
He said we agreed in the said meeting to plant an explosive in his house and in the OPC’s NCC (National Coordinating Council) meeting slated for Ajah later that day.
What was your reaction then?
I was dumbfounded!!!
Before then, I’ve not seen Chief Femi Davies for over four months.
He (Aare Adams) stated further that I have alliance and allegiance with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and some of his men and I was also revealing his secrets to Tinubu; that Asiwaju gave us N200m, a house in Canada and in Lekki. Just like that?
Aare Adams said I used to visit Asiwaju Tinubu’s house in Bourdillon (in Okoyi, Lagos) at night after leaving his house. All the allegations against me are baseless, frivolous and unfounded. I didn’t have any meeting whatsoever with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Chief Femi Davies or any of their representatives. Everything was like a dream to me.
And how long has this suspicion been sustained?
It’s been quite sometime!
I recall similar thing happened in 2012 when I was also alleged of romancing with Tinubu, alongside with one of his former friends, Mr. Wale Adedayo. That time, he said Asiwaju Tinubu gave me a poison to put in his food. I was out of office for two months. He eventually called me back to resume because the allegations were not true.
But you were also alleged of instigating his wife against him to cause family dis-harmony.
I’m aware of the allegation but I’m not guilty. Aside instigating his wife, I was also alleged of getting Canadian visas for his wife and children.
Meanwhile, it was Aare himself who removed the names of his wife and that of his children from the Canadian visa applications on the ground that the wife was being rude to him. It was later that his wife went ahead and applied for the visa on her own, and was granted visa with the children. On this issue, I invited Zaki of Arigidi (the monarch of Arigidi in Ondo State) to Lagos to appeal to Aare for amicable settlement with his wife before the woman took that action. Whereas, he later bought tickets for his wife and the kids to use the visas before they expired. If he wasn’t happy about the Visas, would he have bought tickets for them to travel to Canada with the same Visas?
Could you still recall vividly that near-death experience, and how you escaped?
Yes, I can!
The attack happened at the Mobil Filling Station in Gbagada, Lagos by some OPC members on the instruction of my former boss. I was there to visit a friend.
The attack was masterminded by two of Aare Gani Adams’ men. As I said earlier, I heard about their plans over a month before the attack.
It was carefully arranged to eliminate me, so as to leave an impression that I died in a mob attack. I couldn’t have imagined what would have happened to me if I didn’t have a brainwave and take to my heels to escape being lynched by the rampaging daredevil mob. They chased me everywhere and started shouting: ‘thief’! thief’!!, when it turned out they could not catch up with me.
In fact their intention was to push me to the express way so as to be run over by a moving vehicle. It was by the grace of God that I escaped.
Was there anything like a severance package after you quit relationship with your former boss?
You won’t believe that as at when I was leaving his house, I had no car or even money in my three accounts after almost 17 years of working with him and 21 years in OPC. I was doing everything because of future and the love I have for Yoruba land.
The worst of it all was that all leaders of Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) were asked to swear an oath for seven days never to relate with me again. Even, some members of Oodua Progressive Union (OPU is an offshoot of OPC established to woo Yoruba nationals in diaspora to return to their father land and invest) were placed on oath as well.
I was banned and barred from OPC and OPU activities, the organisation we jointly struggle to found and built together.
I remembered one night, during our normal discussions, I advised him to sheathe sword with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu because of the role he (Asiwaju Tinubu) played when he (Adams) was incarcerated for 14 months in 2005. He (Tinubu) was there for us morally, physically and financially. He even sent former Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola to check on him in Kuje Prison then.
It was only Asiwaju Tinubu, Otunba Gbenga Daniel (another former governor of Ogun State), Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and a former Senator from Osun State, Chief Felix Ogunwale who were there for us at those trying times. I guess that was when Aare started thinking otherwise. I never knew he was going to take the advice personal.
You were once a strong member of OPC and Personal Assistant to Otunba Adams. Did you suspect your splitting with your former boss could have inspired the attack?
“SPLITTING? I DIDN’T SPLIT UP WITH HIM, HE EDGED ME OUT WHEN HE REALISED I WAS BECOMING TOO POPULAR MORE THAN WHAT HE EXPECTED. HE TOLD A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT IF HE DIDN’T TAKE SUCH ACTION, “SEGUN MIGHT LIKELY TAKE OVER THE ORGANISATIONS FROM HIM IN FUTURE BECAUSE PEOPLE PREFER TO REACH OUT TO SEGUN FOR ANYTHING INSTEAD OF HIM.” ALL THE ATTACKS AGAINST ME HAPPENED AS A RESULT OF THE WAY HE ASSASSINATED MY CHARACTERS.”
Were there things you think you did wrong while with OPC?
I didn’t do anything wrong to have deserved such humiliation and victimisation. My ways are pure. I was loyal to him 101 per cent. I was so loyal to the extent of stepping on so many toes because of him.
How many will I mention? I swear!!! I didn’t betray him. Quote me.
Your boss is now the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land, as his former PA and later CoS, how would you describe your personal relationship with him?
My relationship with him was very cordial. I was so loyal to him. I never thought of any downfall for him once. I always thought of progress, promotion and elevation for him because I believe if he’s elevated, we would all benefit from it.
I can’t count my contributions to his achievements and progress right from when I started working with him from 2002 till December 3rd, 2018 when he edged me out unceremoniously. Was it during the factional crises in OPC or when he was incarcerated for 14 months? Is it about my role in his aspirations to become Aare Onakakanfo of Yoruba land, the pre and post 2015 general elections or in the area of branding and repackaging of OPC? The formation of OPU.
No holidays, no weekend, no time for my family. I worked everyday but God knows the best! He will surely judge.
As a former insider in OPC, what do you think actually create this animosity? Is it suspicion on the part of your former boss or carelessness on your own part?
The answer is simple!
As a matter of fact, Aare should stop creating enemies for himself. No one is after him; therefore he should stop suspecting people. He has trained lots of men, but none of those good hands are with him anymore. Once he suspects anyone, he tags that individual an enemy of OPC or OPU and sends him away from the organisations. Voluntary organizations? This is uncalled for, it’s ridiculous. Lots of foundation members of OPC and OPU have been edged out by him. Why? Same goes for his friends who had been there for him when the going was rough and tough in the past. None of them are with him again. This is where he’s getting things wrong, truth must be said. If he continues this way, the leaders and the members of the organizations will revolt against him one day. This will be highly disastrous, he should restrain himself from bringing people down. Chief Obafemi Awolowo who he claims he’s emulating didn’t live his life in this manner. That’s why people still believe in him after death.
Are there things you regret now as non-member of OPC?
I don’t have any regret for joining OPC. I joined the organisation in 1998 as a way of contributing my efforts to the yearnings of depressed and deprived people of Yoruba land. The Yoruba land is marginalised and I believed I could play my own roles.
That was the reason why I joined the organisation then.
What did that experience teach you?
The experience taught me not to put my hope in the hands of anyone because I trusted Aare with all my life. I never thought I could be treated like a common criminal. It’s a lesson for others to learn from.
Are there things you suffered as a result of having to run out of Nigeria to save your life and that of your family?
I don’t want to remember many of challenges I faced again. When a complainant became an accused person, what will you do? Run for your life especially when I didn’t have anyone to rescue me. Police failed to rescue me. I was in SARS (Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad) to report the matter again, nothing was done. The next thing was that Aare took me to court, claiming I lied against him, despite clear evidence and facts against him. Can you imagine? I don’t want to talk too much. You can see I’ve been avoiding talking to the media since the inception of this issue.
I have my reasons. I will write a book to set the record straight but not now.
We also learned that you wrote a petition to United Nation alleging that your former boss was after your life. How true and what’s the update now?
What will I achieve from it? No, I never did. It was my NGO-Global Forum for Human Rights and Sustainable Development that issued a press statement when I was attacked ostensibly to draw the public’s attention to my plight. The organisation appealed to Yoruba traditional rulers, prominent people, United Nations and many other institutions on my behalf.
I can’t pay evil with evil. I wasn’t brought up in that way. He (Aare) has been helpful to me in one way or the other before. For that alone I can’t write petition against him. I’ve left everything to God to judge.
Aare knows I have my own influences and contacts but I will never write any petition against him to the UN, EU (European Union) or anywhere. My visit to United Nations’ office in New York was for another purpose. I’ve left everything to God to judge. God knows the best. God is the decider, controller and everything.
Some people believed there are some deep secrets or should we call it unwritten laws within the OPC which is not known to non-initiates. Perhaps, your breaching some of these unwritten laws may have led to your ordeal. How true is this?
As I said earlier, I don’t want to expatiate further. I will write a book to put the record straight when it is time but I never breached any unwritten law as believed by some people. I was a loyal and dedicated member of OPC. Correct me if I’m wrong. No one can beat my record. You can never hear any of his secrets from me. I was brought up in a good family.
You are now in Canada with your family. What do you miss about Nigeria and how soon would you wish to come back?
I don’t miss anything about Nigeria because it’s a lawless nation, where you may never get justice even when you are right. And to come back to Nigeria? Not now! Do you know how many people who had died in Nigeria as a result of this kind of attacks without any trace?
My life and that of my family are in danger in Nigeria, I can’t dare it. OPC members are spread around Nigeria and Aare has castigated me before them. Once they sight me, I might not have opportunity of escaping again. Let me remain here. Aare is still after my life. If I had an opportunity of taking my siblings out of Nigeria, I will do as my house in Magboro has been deserted because of fear of attack. If not for God, I would have been a dead man.
Someone who sends my name everywhere, raining curses on me everyday. How would he feel if someone does same to his kids? Will he be happy? How could you build a house and destroy it? He keeps tarnishing my good image, even up till tomorrow. Whenever people visit him, he welcomes them with my issues.
What have you been doing in Canada to keep body and soul together?
To God be the glory, I’ve acquired more education opportunities here. I’ve added to my certificates and I believe I will still study further more.Once this COVID-19 is over, I will get a good job from a good company. I have all it takes to get a good job, the certificates are there to proof my competency.
Finally, do a comparison between Nigeria and Canada in terms of security and relate it with that attack that eventually forced you out of the country.
This is incomparable my brother! it’s like comparing death with sleeping. It’s far away. You can’t do such and get away with it here. It’s not possible, you will be caught, prosecuted and sent to prison. No matter who you are. No one is above the law here.
The interview was conducted by Ayo Musa, Associate Editor, The BoldNews