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Upsurge In Kidnapping: Afenifere Again Expresses Concern

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The pan-Yoruba socio-cultural and political organization, Afenifere, has, again, called on President Ahmed Bola Tinubu, to urgently convene community/stakeholders meeting to tackle the increasing insecurity in the country.

In a press statement issued by the organization’s National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, Afenifere submitted that the tenor of the phenomenon “suggests that insiders have a hand in it. By insiders, we mean people who have a relationship one way or the other with kidnap victims. In other words, masterminds of this dastardly act, or their collaborators, could be family members, business associates or those with whom the victim has a social relationship. Some security experts have also suggested that some unscrupulous security personnel might be involved as attested to by a former General Officer Commanding (GOC), 1 Mechanized Division (Kaduna) of the Nigerian Army, Major General Ali-Keffi, in his recent letter to President Bola Tinubu”.

“Information has it that perpetrators of this heinous acts have informants who had or have something to do with the victims. A point that was also made by Mr. Nyesome Wike, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory last week. But situations do occur where terrorists (in fake security uniforms) ambush travellers on highways such as the ones that happened on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Abuja-Kaduna highway, Ikere-Iju-Iwaraja Routes in Ekiti State and so on and so forth. Even where terrorists attack communities such as the ones that took place in Benue, Plateau, Borno, Niger, Sokoto, Nassarawa states among others, such were carried out by those who are familiar with residents of the communities involved. Otherwise, it would not be easy for outsiders to know how to navigate the territory”.
Citing the recent kidnap incidents in Otu, Saki and Okaka in Oke-ogun area of Oyo State, incessant abductions in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, sacking of communities in Niger State etc., Afenifere spokesman asserted that there were indications that some of these incidents had signatures of insiders as conspirators or collaborators, if not masterminds.
“Also in places where Fulani herders wreaked havoc, it had been ascertained, through some dwellers in these communities, that such a thing was done by those who were having or intend to have access to the land of those who innocently harboured them. In other words, hegemony and territorial taking-over were the motives”.

Vanguard newspaper of January 27, 2024, quoted President Bola Tinubu as assuring Nigerians that although socio-economic situation of the country is currently difficult, the desired positive results will soon happen. The president was reported to have said this through the Minister of Education, Professor Tahir Mamman who represented him at the 43rd Convocation ceremony of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Kaduna State last weekend.

“Nigerians are surely anxious to see a positive turnaround to the hardships currently in the land. It is however very important that their lives and properties be secured even now, because it is a person who is alive and hearty that will enjoy whatever largesse that comes in ‘the near future’ to quote the president’s speech.

“This is where tackling the issue of insecurity now ravaging the land becomes very imperative and critical.
Reports in the last few days paint gory picture of the situation we are in as attested by the following:
“Terrorists, bandits, and criminals of other hues took their inglorious activities in the country to a new dimension in the last 48 hours, wreaking mayhem in six states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.
Their deadly operations across five of the six geo-political zones of the country left no fewer than six persons dead; 60 persons kidnapped, a corpse stolen and goods worth millions of naira also stolen. The only zone not affected by the attacks was the South-South” (Vanguard January 27, 2024).

“The Southwest, hitherto considered as relatively safe, is now a theatre of the unfortunate situation as the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), Mr. Phillip Aivoji and a few others were kidnapped at Ogere, Ogun State on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway last week Thursday when returning to Lagos. Early on Saturday, January 27th, gunmen attacked the residence of Chairman of Oyo State Tipper, Lorry and Quarry Park Management System, Alhaji Akeem Akintola, popularly known as KUSO at Ajiboye area, Omi Adio, Ibadan and whisked him away.

“Penultimate week, some unknown gunmen have struck along Akure-Ado Ekiti Expressway, abducting some passengers in two vehicles at Iju area of Akure North Local Government Area of the state.
Over 30 people were reportedly killed in Plateau State last week Wednesday by gunmen who attacked Kwahaslalek village, Mangu Local Government Area of the state.”

The statement urged President Tinubu to summon necessary political will to arrest this very ugly situation.

“Afenifere is sure that Tinubu-led government is capable of arresting the ugly phenomenon. This is why we have been suggesting the means to achieve this”.

Among the steps suggested were urgent conveyance of cluster meetings with various communities where the stakeholders would be reminded of the risks and destructions such an act was causing them.

“Government should also tell participants that henceforth, those who are caught, including collaborators, would face stiff penalties not ruling out death penalties. At such meetings, collaborators and informants would be there to hear that government is now determined to be ruthless with hoodlums and terrorists.

“While that is going on, security agencies must be strengthened numerically, equipment-wise as well as in terms of remunerations and incentives – in addition to the deployment of modern technology for security purposes.
As we have stated several times, the President should issue an Executive Order proclaiming multi-level police forces. In other words, states and local government areas that so desire should be legally allowed to have own police services that would operate within their areas of jurisdictions respectively. An Executive Bill can then be forwarded to the National Assembly for the amendment of relevant sections of the Constitution to allow multi-level policing”.

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To Ajayi, “this will go a long way in solving the problem. Experiences we had in the past and of such countries like Britain and United States of America, “are a clear indication that the time to allow for multi-level policing has come. But such police forces must be by state actors and NOT by non-state actors because of possible abuse”.

He cited the feats being performed by Amotekun Corps in Southwest states in spite of the constraints they have.

“If states and local government councils are allowed to operate police services, putting criminality, including abductions, under control would be easy. It can also be conjectured that were policing system in place at state and local government levels, the kind of unprecedented blast that occurred in Ibadan last week Tuesday would not have happened as the explosive used for the purpose would have been detected beforehand”, he concluded.

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