UPSWING IN BANDITRY AND KIDNAPPING: AFENIFERE SUGGESTS WAY OUT …….calls on President Tinubu to urgently establish State/LG Police

“In order to end insecurity, enhance people’s welfare and ensure the sustenance of Nigeria as one of the top investments’ destinations in Africa as desired by the government, there is the urgent need by the federal government and security agencies to be more innovative and decisive.”

Making this declaration was the renowned pan-Yoruba socio-cultural and socio-political organization, Afenifere, in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi.

The statement was motivated by the recent reports of banditry and kidnapping in Ogun, Edo, Ekiti, Oyo, Kogi, Zamfara and Niger States which made a research organization to declare Nigeria as one of the top nations where kidnap ranks highest globally.

Latest reports have it that on Monday, May 13 instant, eight cocoa farmers were kidnapped at Marindoti Cocoa Farmers’ settlement in Ovia South-West local government area of Edo State. Three students of Millicent Secondary School in the same area on their way to writing their Senior Secondary School Examination, were also kidnapped same time.
A sum of N31 million was reportedly paid to ransom three people who were kidnapped at Longe village on Ibadan-Ijebu-Ode Road last week Sunday. On Thursday, May 16th, one Alhaja Seliat Adeniji (nee Raji) was kidnapped in her Ebedi home in Iseyin, Oyo State. Her guard was killed in the process.

Honourable Bello Hassan representing Zurmi/Shinkafi Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives last Tuesday claimed that terrorists have sacked about 50 communities and abducted over 500 people in his area of Zamfara State as bandits overran Zurmi, the second most populous town in the state killing palace officers as well as policemen.
Students of educational institutions and residents of villages in Abuja etc., were kidnapped at random.

Fulani herders and farmers’ clashes kept occurring in Osun, Ondo and Oyo State; Otu, Igbeti and Alaga in Oke ogun area of Oyo State being the latest victims. Banditry, including armed robbery, kidnapping are still occurring on Southwest roads such as Lagos-Ibadan, Ibadan-Ijebu-Ode; Akure-Ilesa-Ibadan; Ore-Ijebu Ode-Lagos, Ikirun-Osogbo-Ilesa; Lokoja-Abuja, Owo-Benin and Ibadan-Iseyin-Saki. Attacks by cultists added to the nefarious activities in Lagos and Ogun States.

To put a serious check on all these, Afenifere spokesman said that there is the urgent need to dig deep into the roots of the menace and to be decisive in applying the necessary measures.

“The starting point is to probe into the motivation for kidnapping and related banditry. Three identified motives are economic, ideology and politics. Each of these has sub-strata and sometimes interlopes. For instance, the economic factor of banditry could have territorial claim as an underpinning. It can also be as a result of some interests wanting to assert political superiority. These are relatively easier to deal with if the authorities and the people in the given area are committed to dealing with it”.

“The other aspect is one based on ideology. Most of the time such an ideology is religious or faith-based. In a situation where a given people are brainwashed to believe that only those who share the same ideology with them are qualified to live freely, the authorities and the society have a lot of work to do.

“As stated interalia, sometimes the line between economic, ideological and political reasons for terrorism or kidnapping got blurred. While the reason may sometimes not be so clear-cut, the means of subduing the menace can be handy if the authorities are desirous of putting an end to the menace.

The starting point is within and around the communities where the menace is rampart. As we stated in our earlier submissions on this issue, terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, cultism etc. kept occurring because people are aiding and abetting the perpetrators wittingly and unwittingly. As such, it is imperative to induce, if not impose town-hall meetings in which residents in specific places would be compelled to talk to themselves, identify themselves and be made to enter into covenants of peaceful co-existence with one another”.

Researches and observations have clearly established that about 90 per cent of kidnapping incidents are targeted. And for perpetrators to pull through successfully, insiders would be involved one way or the other. This is where the meetings suggested above become imperative. It should not be a social meeting. But one in which attendees speak frankly and sincerely with a determination to put an end to what is about to consume the whole society.

Going by how relatively easy perpetrators of this evil act pull through successfully, it is difficult to completely exonerate security officials in the land. There is a strong suspicion of connivance on their part or failure to carry out their duties professionally. Reports of compromises and kidnap incidents occurring within a few meters to police or army roadblocks are rampart. Not to talk of failure to quickly respond to distress calls by those being attacked by terrorists. Thus, government has to also work on those working in its agencies responsible for internal security. Besides being properly (re)oriented, they need to be motivated and equipped. Oftentimes, the weapons in the hands of terrorists are superior to the ones in the hands of those who are to apprehend them. Government needs to work harder in this respect. Just as dispensation of justice should be swifter. The case of Mr. Chukwudimeme Nwamadike a.k.a. Evans, being tried for kidnapping since about seven years comes to mind here.

The situation was becoming so deplorable as no-one seems to be immune from the danger of being kidnapped. Unfortunately, each incidence is followed by another.

“There are indications that President Ahmed Bola Tinubu is desirous of putting an end to this deleterious menace. Towards the end of January this year, he approved the procurement of digital tracking tools to enhance the apprehension of bandits, terrorists and armed robbers. On Monday, April 22, this year, he used the occasion of addressing participants at the African Counter-Terrorism Summit which opened on that day in Abuja to assure everyone of his government’s readiness to ensure greater security. Unfortunately, recent happenings have not shown that the President’s desire in this respect is being worked upon.

Afenifere urged President Tinubu to get state and local government police off the ground immediately through the invocation of an Executive Order while the process of amending the Constitution continues. Close circuit television sets, deployment of modern technology for security purposes including drones must be effected immediately.” Afenifere spokesman concluded.

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