He once walked through the valley of death. 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.
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 is still after his life.
In this interview, Akanni bares it all.
How do you feel exactly a year after what you call an attempt on your life?
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 see it coming?
Before the attack of June 5, 2019, 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. A month before the attack, I got a tip off that Aare Gani Adams was accusing some OPC 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 I 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. I knew all those attacks were from my former boss, Aare Gani Adams.
Can you recall how you parted ways with Aare Adams?
It all started on Monday December 3rd, 2018. I was in his 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 on Wednesday November 28th, 2018, and another one on Sunday December 2 at 1am. Aare Adams said Niyi, one of his staff in the office who was sick and was then at home, was also there at the meeting. I’ve never met with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu for once; only Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, former governor of Osun State, knows me. He said we agreed in the said meeting to plant an explosive in his house and at the OPC’s 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. Aare Adams stated further that I had alliance with and allegiance to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and that some of his men and I were also revealing his secrets to Tinubu; that Asiwaju gave us N200m, a house in Canada and in Lekki.
He claimed that I used to visit Asiwaju Tinubu’s house in Bourdillon in Ikoyi, Lagos at night after leaving his house. All the allegations against me were 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 just like a dream to me.
I recall a similar thing happened in 2012 when I was also alleged of romancing Tinubu, alongside 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.
You were also alleged of instigating his wife against him. Is that correct?
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 so they can use the visas before they expired.
Tell us about the near-death experience, and how you escaped?
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 can’t imagine 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 guys. They chased me everywhere and started shouting: ‘thief’! thief’! 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.
Would you like to speak on your achievements while you were with Aare Adams?
When I was quitting his house, I had no car or 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 Yorubaland. The worst of it was the information I got that all leaders of Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) were asked to swear an oath for seven days never to relate with me. Even, some members of Oodua Progressive Union, an offshoot of OPC, were placed on oath as well. I was banned and barred from OPC and OPU activities, the organisation we jointly struggled to build. I remember 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, a 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 Aare Adams. Did you suspect your splitting with your former boss could have inspired the attack?
I didn’t split with him, he edged me out because he suspected I was becoming more popular than him. He probably felt I could take over the organization from him in future because he thought people were reaching out to me more than him. And I didn’t do anything wrong to deserve 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. 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 and the formation of OPU. There were no holidays, no weekends, no time for my family. I worked everyday to satisfy him.
Do you have any regrets joining the OPC?
I don’t have any regret joining OPC. I joined the organisation in 1998 as a way of contributing my efforts to the yearnings of depressed and deprived people of Yorubaland. The Yorubaland was marginalised and I believed I could play my own roles.
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. In fact, I’m writing a book to document my experiences.
Did you also write a petition to United Nations alleging that your former boss was after your life?
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.
You are now in Canada with your family. What do you miss about Nigeria and how soon would you wish to come back?
I’m fine in Canada with my family. My life and that of my family are in danger in Nigeria, I can’t dare it now. OPC members are spread round Nigeria. If I made the mistake of going to Nigeria now, I might not have the opportunity of escaping again.
What have you been doing in Canada to keep body and soul together?
To God be the glory, I’ve acquired more education here. I’ve added to my educational certificates and I will still study further. Once this Covid-19 challenge 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 prove my competence.