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Thief catcher opens up: How arrested armed robbers buy their freedom

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Alhaji Ali Kwara has become popular because of his exploits as a thief catcher. He was recently in Katsina State where he helped the police in the state in smashing a notorious gang of armed robbers terrorizing the state. He also help in killing the dare devil robbers that killed a finance director with the Federal Medical Centre, Katsina, Alhaji Kabir Yahaya. He however fielded questions from some selected journalists in Katsina. Our Correspondent, Lawal Sa’idu Funtua was there.

Who is Ali Kwara?
Ali Kwara is a human being like any other person. My name is Ali and the name of my father is Muhammad and my grandfather is called Ahmad. I was born in Azare town in Bauchi state. I did my primary school in Azare and started my secondary school in Azare and completed in Gamawa town. The highest school I attended was secondary school. I grew up in my family to discover that my parents were all Arabs. They are all businessmen and I therefore take after them as businessman but since my early days I always have interest in hunting, setting traps for animals and bee keeping.
What made you become a thief catcher?
There is nothing that attracted my attention to this job. I would rather say it is the will of God that I will take to this path. The interest I had in hunting when I was young and my refusal to further my education was part of God’s design that I will end up doing this job. The reason I joined this work was that there was one police officer, a Gombe state indigene, who was once a special adviser to Gombe state Governor; I think he is either from Kaltungo or Billiri, his name is Usman Ardo; when he was Area Commander in our area, robbers then were killing a lot of people and they even attacked him. He came to my house and said he had the feeling that I can assist him and I told him I can’t because I’m not a police or military man that has the power of arrest.
When he insisted, I paid N700,000 at that time for the clearing of the bush between our town and Potiskum. This single act made me enemy of these robbers and they came to Azare and sent abuses to me and we went after them where they killed my two friends. Since that incident, I have been all out to ensure that we got rid of them all.
People have this opinion that you confront thieves with a sort of magic; what it the real position?
The only magic I have is that I depend on God; I know God created me and my parents. I have my guns and I have been arresting thieves. So I know no one can extend my breath in this world with a single second. Everything is in God’s hands.
What about amulets and other magical protections?
These things are not proper. They are not Islamic. It is a deviation from the path of God. I don’t have interest in them and I will never have and in any case I will not subscribe that any Muslim should indulge in such practice.
You are in Katsina and you have recorded some successes in arresting some armed robbers. What actually happened?
First you are ignorant of one thing, I don’t arrest anybody. I only assist the police and sometimes I don’t join them on such operations. I only plan for them with the use of my brain and finances since God has blessed me. Their men are always close to me and if have any clue, I plan for them and send them out to tackle the situation. I sent my boys to the commissioner of the command where they join his boys for the operations. This is what actually happened with the Katsina operation where we recorded a huge success.
Your combine team successfully killed some armed robbers along Charanchi-Katsina road. People would like to know where these robbers operate mostly in Katsina state.
These armed robbers were operating all over the state. We arrested one of them who gave us information about even this car we attacked. They robbed and killed a director of finance of the Federal Medical Centre, Katsina and we found them in possession of his gun.
His family gave us the number of the gun and we found it with them. Those that we arrested told us that they robbed in Batsari where they robbed a bank and a market; they robbed in Dutsin-ma and in Karofi where they met an old man with no money and poured burning cellophane on his head. They robbed in Mani and ‘Yandoma where they killed one person. The one I arrested is from Zamfara state and he told me they were responsible for about 50 armed robberies in Katsina state. They told us those giving them weapons and we are on their trail.
Are your operations restricted to Katsina state alone?
No. You know armed robbers have networks. In the past, before I pressure them to break the network, their network in the whole of West-Africa is one. If you start arresting armed robber  from Central Africa to Ethiopia, they he will surely link you with places like Katsina, Zamfara, Yauri or Kebbi.
You must get someone from Dutsin-ma or Jangebe or Yauri. You will get them in Central Africa, Cameroun and Chad and some are indigenes of Katsina, Zamfara or Kebbi state and most of them are Fulanis. If you follow the link you would arrest 200 of them in a year till you get tired and abandon the job. If your leaders would show commitment we would have crossed over to Niger Republic and chase them away. Most of the guns uses in killing your people here were brought through these porous borders.
As someone who stayed long in this, what is your advice?
Since the beginning of democratic rule, there has been laxity on the part of the government. Our leaders are not monitoring closely the conduct of the nation’s judiciary and courts and those prosecuting the cases. Everyone is doing as he pleases. Some people are using these things as business ventures. I have cases where you will arrest people and they will later come and tell you that they paid to escape prosecution. If the government would not punished the guilty, then I would like to advice it to stop spending its funds on security. People were left doing as they wish in their offices and you would be saying it for donkey years but nobody is ready to listen to you.
The problem of Nigeria is Nigerians. Anyone that completed secondary school and has gone up to degree level has a major concern which is his house; his personal interest. He wants to have a modern house with red zinc and marry a beautiful woman.        Many Nigerians who are not well to do will always speak like patriots but immediately they get political office, the will change position. Their concern will be shifted. His concern will be only on his personal security and that of his family.
They spend millions of naira on security but no improvement. We need to audit the handling of the funds released for security to know exactly what is happening. We should also investigate the issue of those releasing robbers. If this is not done, then nothing will change.

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