• Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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BusinessDay

Kidnapping in Lagos, Ogun, Ikere-Ekiti bank attacks: Afenifere expresses concern, suggests ways of checking rising insecurity

Afenifere backs bill for return to parliamentary government

Afenifere, the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural and political organization, has again called on the federal government and security agencies to rise up to combat the rising cases of insecurity, particularly kidnapping, in recent times.

The call was contained in a press statement issued by Jare Ajayi, national publicity secretary of the body, at the weekend.

He further enjoined the federal government to urgently address the ‘political, economic and ideological factors’ identified by Peter Afunaya, spokesman of the Department of State Security DSS), as being responsible for recurrent incidence of kidnapping and banditry.

Ajayi called on President Bola Tinubu to address the political, economic and ideological factors mentioned by Afunaya.

According to Ajayi, the political, economic and ideological factors mentioned by Afunaya can be addressed in the following manner, among others:

“The first thing to do is to urgently allow states and local government areas to establish police services and be in total control of the services with enhanced welfare for the personnel as well as deployment of modern technology for security purposes. Second is to ensure quicker dispensation of justice so that those arrested for banditry can be tried with dispatch.

“The third thing to do is to take urgent steps at easing the socio-economic hardships in the country so that the people can be more empowered and for them to have more faith in the country and its government.

“The fourth thing to do is on the side of the government and the people. This involves de-radicalizing the bandits in a manner that they would realize that what they are doing is self-destructive. It also requires the enlightenment of the people to stop covering up known criminals in their midst.

“But for this to be effectively done, the people need to be sure that their own life would not be endangered for exposing perceived criminals. As is known presently, those who tip security agents off of suspected criminals are exposed to danger as the criminals sometimes go after them on being told of who exposed them. In other words, our security agencies need to put their own houses in order for the security steps they are taking to be effective,” he said.

The latest call became imperative in view of rising kidnap cases in Lagos, Ogun, Kwara and some other parts of the country. The armed robbery attacks at two commercial banks in Ikere, Ekiti State recently resulting in the death of three Amotekun security personnel in addition to serious harm inflicted on some other innocent people were also mentioned. Taiwo Oyekanmi, a director of finance, Ogun State, was similarly murdered on November 29, 2023 in Abeokuta by armed robbers, who went away with millions of naira meant for government workers.

Reports have it that seven people were kidnapped while one person was killed last Monday at Fidiwo on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. This came in the wake of the kidnap of Miracle Adereti Kolawole, a 13-year-old student by an unknown gang while returning home from school on Friday, December 1, 2023 in Ikotun area of Lagos as confirmed by Afonka Police Station in Egbeda, Alimosho, Lagos, which immediately assigned Inspector Ogidiolu Olajimi to lead the investigation and rescue efforts.

Towards the end of October, sundry abductions took place in Ikotun, Okota, Ejigbo, Alimosho, Egbeda, Agege, Amuwo Odofin areas of Lagos, according to published reports.

Benjamin Hundeyin, Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, said that the police are aware of the situation and is taking decisive actions to round up the criminals. Eight workers of MRS Oil were abducted in July this year from a boat on Tin Can Waterways of Lagos State.

New media reports indicated that ransoms in millions of Naira are being demanded before kidnapped victims could be released. Some victims killed even when ransoms were paid.

Ajayi stated that the Ikere-Ekiti banks robbery, like other banditry, was condemnable adding that it probably would not have happened if necessary security steps had been taken.

“To use the Ikere Ekiti incident as an example, the disclosure by Femi Ekundayo, national president of Ikere Development Forum (IDF) that the State and the Federal Government left the whole of Ikere local government area without any functional police station since arsonists burnt down the two divisional police stations in the town during the #ENDSARS protest in 2020 has not been refuted. This was largely responsible for how the gang could operate at the two banks in broad daylight without being challenged.”

He went on to state that after the kidnap incidents on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in 2022 where former Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Professor Adigun Agbaje among others were victims, governors of Ogun and Oyo States including security agencies assured citizens that the highway would be secured.

“It is therefore a matter of serious concern that a few weeks into the yuletide period, commuters on the highway have to travel with trepidation for fear of being attacked.”

Afenifere spokesman asserted that kidnap incidents are not limited to the metropolis or major highways alone going by abductions that took place in parts of Oke-ogun, Oyo State in recent times. Some of such places were Saki, Okaka, Otu, Komu and in Offa in Kwara State, among others. Similar reports have been reported in parts of Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo and Osun States in addition to the ones in the central and northern parts of the country notably, Kogi, Niger, Benue, Nassarawa, Kaduna and Borno States. The South East is not left out either as supposed ‘unknown’ gunmen seem to be having a field day in inflicting pains on the people including killings and abductions.

“As things are, the authorities concerned are not unaware of what is happening. What needs to be done is to take the bull by the horn. For instance, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Muyiwa Adejobi, recently said that the police is making efforts to put an end to kidnapping in the country. To make the efforts successful however, he challenged citizens to break what he called ‘conspiracy of silence’, a situation in which people knew the criminals among them but refuse to expose them.

“Kidnappers hide amongst our people and have their hideouts in communities” Adejobi said this during an Anti-Kidnap Multi-Agency fusion workshop in Abuja on September 13, 2023.

At the same event, the spokesperson of the Department of State Services spokesperson, Peter Afunanya, blamed the spate of kidnappings on political, economic and ideological factors, adding that the DSS has “created a special incident department under which we have an anti-kidnap and extortion unit to address issues of kidnapping.”