Curbing Kidnapping In Kwara, an analysis by Taiwo Ogunniyi

Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara

The recent reported cases of kidnapping in Kwara state has been a mind boggling and posed threat to the citizens given its effect in all spheres of life of residents of the state

Diifferent cases of Kidnapping were being reported in different parts of the state in recent times.

However, this has taken its toll on farming activities as some of the farmers are scared to return to their farms, which has a negative effect on the economy and food security of the state and the nation at large.

However, some communities in the state are security conscious and careful of strangers in their midst. Also to travel and tour at night is now a nightmare in some strategic places across the state.

Although, Kwara is a neighbour to Niger state, and has national forest stretching from North run through the states making the state accessible to herdsmen, militias and bandits migrating from the Northern states like Zamfara, Kaduna.

However, it would be recalled that one Alhaji Alaga Olayemi, a farmer, was kidnapped in Oke Onigbin in Isin Local Government Area of Kwara State by unknown gunmen.

According to some villagers in the community who confided in newsmen, Olayemi and his two aides were ambushed by their attackers around 7 p.m while returning home from their maize farm near Oke Onigbin.

However, the two aides were lucky to have escaped being abducted, their boss was not that lucky as he was reported to have been immediately whisked off by the assailants. The two aides were said to have escaped with severe injuries they sustained from matchete cuts inflicted on them by the marauders.

It was learnt that the dastardly incident has thrown Oke Onigbin community and its environs into tension as villagers are reportedly living in great fear.

One of the villagers, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said: “It is lamentable that Kwara South region, hitherto a peaceful place,, has now turned to be a habitable place for criminal elements since few months back while government and security agencies have not been able to arrest the situation.

“Several civil society organisations, including Ekiti Igbomina Youth Agenda, have raised alarm and pleaded with the government to take urgent steps at arresting the situation but the government appears to be treating the growing insecurity within Kwara South with levity.

“There was a report that a monarch who was kidnapped by gunmen from far away Ekiti State was rescued in Kwara State by combined operatives of Amotekun and local hunters. This is highly embarrassing and only suggests that the three tiers of government and the security agencies are sleeping on issues of insecurity across the country.

“We therefore call on the administration of Governor AbdulRahman AbulRazaq to rise up to the occasion by nipping the issue of insecurity in the bud across the state since no meaningful development can be made where there is anarchy and chaos.”

The kidnapped incident was, however, confirmed by the Kwara State Police Command’s spokesman, SP Okasanmi Ajayi Okasanmi who later disclosed that the police rescued some of the abducted victims.

“The Commissioner of Police, Kwara State, CP Mohammed Lawal Bagega is pleased to inform the good people of Kwara, the rescue of 69 year old Alhaji Alaga Olayemi, who was abducted in his farm at Oke Onigbin in the evening of 21/4/2021 by a seven man gun wielding gang.

“After a painstaking search and rescue operation, ordered by the commissioner of police Kwara State and conducted within OkeOnigbin, Iloffa, Ekiti and Eruku area of the state by the police and other members of the security Community in the state, forced the abductors to abandon their victim at Oyogbo village under intense security pressure when it became obvious they couldn’t escape arrest.

The victim is presently undergoing some medical check up in a hospital (name withheld). Effort is being intensified to get the abductors apprehended.”

“The commissioner of police, while soliciting for more cooperation of the citizens by giving police information, wishes to assure the good people of Kwara State of their safety at all times, while warning criminal elements to vacate the state, as the police command would not hesitate to employ all lawful means to deal with criminals irrespective of their status, ” he added

Also recently, Gunmen suspected to be kidnappers have reportedly abducted a United States of America (USA) returnee, who is also an indigene of Ilorin emirate.

The victim, Muritala Adebayo, was said to have been kidnapped on his farm located at Pampo, Asa local government area of the state,

An eyewitness account told journalists that, “we were all at the farm, when suddenly we started hearing sporadic gunshots and we all scampered for safety.

“Some few minutes later, we learnt the owner of a neighbouring farm had been kidnapped”. Adebayo’s abductors, it was gathered had demanded a ransom of N100 million to secure his release.

It was also gathered that sources in the family of the kidnapped had confirmed that the abductors had contacted them, saying that a demand of N100 million was made for his release.

“They have called us more than four times, asking us to ensure we get the money or he will not be returned alive. We are doing everything humanly possible to secure his release”, the source said.

The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the state police command, Okasanmi Ajayi, who confirmed the incident, said that the command got distress call from a member of the victim late on Thursday night

“Immediately, the state Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Bagega, deployed a team of investigators to the scene of the incident on Friday. The investigators combed everywhere in and around the farm.
“The command is doing everything possible to ensure the safe rescue of the victim and the arrest of the suspected abductors”, he said

The PPRO, however, said that the command “is not a party to ransom payment to suspected kidnappers. Rather we enjoin families of kidnapped victims to collaborate with the police for the safe release/rescue of the victim”.

Also recently, the Kwara Police Command said it has rescued four of the seven people abducted on Ilorin-Omu-Aran road on Saturday.

This was disclosed in a statement by the Police Public Relations Officer of the command, SP Ajayi Okasanmi,

The command said it received reports of two kidnapped incidents simultaneously on Saturday at about 5:35 p.m on Oke-Onigbin/Omu-Aran highway and Ekiti -Ekan Meje axis.

The statement explained that six armed men emerged from the bush and stopped a Siena bus in transit from Ekiti on its way to Ilorin and marched the seven occupants of the vehicle into the bush.

“The command promptly dispatched its tactical units, comprising the anti-kidnapping and anti-cultists units, joined by local hunters and vigilantes while policemen who were on patrols on the routes were alerted.

“The abductors were instantly chased into the bushes, four out of the seven abducted persons were rescued; efforts are still in top gear to get the remaining three rescued.

“Deploying similar tactics by operatives, those abducted in Ekan-Meje-Ekiti axis using the same modus were equally rescued, remaining a pastor and his wife who the command is frantically doing everything possible to rescue unhurt,’’ the police said

The statement said some suspects had been arrested and were helping the command in its investigation.

“The situation is under control; the good people of Kwara State are advised to go about their lawful businesses without any fear of molestation and attack,’’ the police said.

It would be recalled that the security challenges between farmers and herdsmen in Oyo led the influx of herder into Kwara state whereby the state governor Abdulrahman Abdulradaq led delegation of the state official and traditional rulers to Ibadan for a joint security meeting with his Oyo state counterpart Seyi Makinde where they discuss the need for the two states to share intelligence and find lasting solutions to security challenge across order communities as they agreed to collaborate to stem the tide of security challenges and foster social economic development

Also, the state Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq recently presented 20 new patrol vehicles and dozens of bulletproof vests to security agencies in the state, a gesture meant to strengthen rapid response, curb crimes and make the state safer. 
This comes a few months after his administration donated many vehicles to the agencies as part of its multi-layered strategies to secure the state and attract investments.
The vehicles comprise 10 salon cars exclusively donated to the police and another 10 Toyota Hilux which are meant for rapid response arm of the multiagency Operation Harmony. 

“We are donating vehicles to the security agencies to fortify their work. We did that last year and later this year we will be adding more vehicles,” he said. 

“It is a continuous exercise. The federal government is doing a lot and this is our own little way to support what the central government is doing. We use this opportunity to thank the security agencies for what they are doing for us to sleep at night while they do what they need to do. 

“This situation in Kwara is much more better than most states and we want them to keep that. So, we need to support them to make sure they keep the peace in Kwara.”

The Governor said Kwara has become increasingly peaceful while people are finding safe haven, adding: “We do appreciate what all our security agencies are doing. This is another block in the building of strong security architecture the state.”

Secretary to the State Government Prof Mamman Saba Jubril, for his part, said the government acquired the patrol vehicles for rapid response to security issues in the state. 

“We are here to hand over the patrol vehicles to security agencies in the state. We know there are security problems in different parts of the world but we thank God in Kwara State that we enjoy relative peace but we are not overconfident.

All we are doing is to maintain peace in the state. Because of what is happenings in our neighbouring states, we need to make efforts to maintain peace in the state. That is why His Excellency has acquired the security vehicles for rapid response, they should be ready to respond and maintain peace at anytime.”

Jubril urged the security agencies to use the vehicles carefully to aid their operations. 

Commissioner of Police Mohammed Bagega, for his part, commended the state government for its continuous support to security agencies in the state. 

“On behalf of other security agencies in the state, I want to express our sincere gratitude for the tremendous assistance the government has been rendering to us in the state. I want to assure you that the vehicles will be used for the intended purposes,” Bagega added. 

The state government recently expressed its readiness to strengthen security collaboration with Niger state to ensure adequate protection of lives and properties in the two states.

Governor AbdulRazaq, who expressed grave concern with reports of degradation of Multi-Billion Naira natural endowments by some criminal elements in parts of Baruten Local Government, said he would reach out to his Niger state counterpart for maximum security collaboration to put an end to such criminal activities.

Meanwhile, public affair analyst in Ilorin Gideon Amudipe who shared his views on the issue in Ilorin stressed the need to find out those behind Kidnapping in the state, “get them arrested, deal with them in accordance with the law.” He said

Amudipe who stressed the need for biometric system to identify the through citizen also called on the government to engaged the youths through the creation of jobs to keep them busy,

He also stressed need to utilise local hunters and equip them.

Also, Close Circuit Television CCTV expert in Ilorin Paul Adebayo who stressed the need for community policing called on the government to partner with the community for intelligence gathering and to imbibe the use of modern technology in fight crimes in the state.

Meanwhile, Commissioner of Police, Kwara State Command CP Mohammed Lawal Bagega as part of his effort to stem the rising security concerns in Kwara south axis of the state and to also have a first hand information on the reasons for security anxiety in the communities, especially in Irepodun, Okeero and Ekiti local government areas on the alleged suspected herdsmen/kidnapping activities visited the communities where he spoke with the traditional rulers
“The visit was an attempt to build confidence of members of the communities on the ability and capability of the police to protect their lives and property necessitated the town hall meeting.” CP said
In attendance were traditional rulers in the 3 local government areas, the chairmen of the 3 local government areas, vigilante and professional hunters, okada riders and members of other sister security agencies and police men and women in the axis.

The CP who spoke on the need for peaceful coexistence among all the people, explained the gains in being ones brothers keeper and the advantage of consultation whenever there are contentious issues.

He reiterated the fact that Nigeria constitution permit citizens to reside wherever they deem comfortable, but the constitution never allows for act of criminality of any sort as “such we must do everything possible to stay in peace with our host communities.”

The CP also enjoined the people to always make information available to the police and must not provide a shield for any criminal.

The commissioner of police also harp on the consequences of taking the law into ones hand, while admonishing the youth to eschew carrying out jungle justice on any suspect or property, as anyone arrested will be made to feel the full weight of the law.

While speaking in private with vigilance and professional hunters invited, he admonished them to be diligent, proactive and do more of intelligence gathering, all within the ambit of the law.

The CP advised that the vigilante members must always carry out their duties under the strict supervision of the Dpos of their area. The CP thereafter inaugurated a joint patrol of the axis by police and vigilante groups.

HRH Oba Abdulraheem Adeoti, the Olomu of Omuaran, HRH Oba Samuel Niyi Dada the Alofa of Ilofa and HRH Oba Dr. Olusegun Rotimi, the Obajisun of Ayedun kingdom led other traditional rulers to the meeting, and all spoke about the security challenges in the country and the state, commended the CP for his passion for his duties and his method of administration that is very urbane and proactive.

The traditional rulers promised to cooperate and continue to collaborate with the command, he requested for deployment of more police men to their domains for more effective policing of the axis.

The commissioner of Police and his entourage comprising the deputy commissioner of police Admin, Dcp Rotimi Adelesi, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Department of Operations, Dcp Paul Omata and other senior police officers from the Command headquarters patrolled Omuaran, Iloffa Osi, Oboile and Eruku before heading back to Ilorin.

With the increase in reported cases of Kidnapping in Kwara state, the government and security agents should tackle security challenges in the state with vigorous efforts as the citizens should also partner with relevant agencies through intelligence gathering in Curbing crime in the state


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