The Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Gani Adams, said over N3 billion had been paid as ransom to release about 400 people that were kidnapped in south-west Nigeria within a period of two years.
Mr Adams, who made the claim at the fourth edition of the South West Security Stakeholders Group conference held in Abeokuta, Ogun State, also said that over 400 people have been killed or maimed in the region by the kidnappers within the period.
The South West Security Stakeholders Group is a body of different security groups in the region formed in 2019 to find lasting solutions to the security challenges in all the six states of the region.
Mr Adams, a founding member of the Oodua Peoples Congress, a Yoruba nationalist organisation, said that he receives first-hand information about kidnappings happening in any part of the south-west.
He said the conference is an opportunity to bring all security agencies together to enhance his capacity.
“When you quantify the amount of ransom that have been paid in Oke-Ogun, Ibarapa, Ekiti, Akoko and Yewa, it is even more than N3 billion. When you quantify those people that were killed and maimed in all these jurisdictions, they are more than 400 people.
“As the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, I am privy to some certain information that certain security organizations do not have. When things happen in any community, they will call my line that Aare, what can you do?
“Unfortunately, I don’t have enough power to act like the olden days Aare, but I am doing my own bit as a person that has a liberation organisation.
“That was one of the reasons I brought all these people together so that it can enhance (my) capacity to work with security agencies so that South-West region can be peaceful.”
When contacted for comments, Abimbola Oyeyemi, the Ogun State police spokesperson, said he does not speak for the south-west region.
Frank Mba, the Force public relations officer, did not respond to requests for comments.
Mr Adams said if the Yoruba leaders fail to act on the activities of killer herdsmen, the region may record the same experience as the happenings in northern Nigeria.
He appealed to the federal government to consider regionalism as an option to rescuing the country from its current situation.
“There is need for self-government or regionalism in the country where states governors would control the police and other security architectures of their states.
“At every point in time in the region, insecurity has reached an alarming need for us to take drastic action towards ending the prevailing scourge.
“In the north, the story is even worse, bandits have taken over the entire North East, North West and Central. In Kaduna for instance, about 500 schools have been shut indefinitely. Pupils can no longer go to school because of the fear of being killed or kidnapped.
Speaking on the theme of the programme, “Stemming The Tide Of Insecurity In The South-West Nigeria: A Criminological Therapy,” the guest lecturer, Olugbega Akingbehin, emphasised that the federal government must rise to the challenge to maintain its economic relations with the rest of the world.
The professor stressed that the south-west leaders must secure the region to avert a sudden take over by insurgents.