By Ayo Alonge ([email protected])
the people of Ketu-Epe, Lagos State, are lamenting as the menace of kidnapping has made their community dangerous to reside in. The situation has degenerated to the point that ordinary farmers are abducted and their family members made to pay ransom to secure their freedom.
Unable to bear the great toll which kidnapping is taking on farms in the area, the people recently undertook a march to protest against the deteriorating security situation that has driven them from their farms.
The picture of the people’s agony was painted by 51-year-old Adewale Badru Olisa, a high chief in Ketu-Epe Kingdom, who narrated to Sunday Sun reporter the ordeal of his people in the hands of abductors.
Ketu-Epe is an agrarian community in Epe Local Government and only a 10-minute drive from Epe Town. It has been ravaged by kidnappers who just abduct victims from their farms, homes and even roadside.
Sunday Sun learnt that they simply jump on their victims at random and take them to their hideouts, through the rivers, and ask for outrageous ransoms.
Badru told Sunday Sun: “We have kidnappers in our community but we are tirelessly working on it to ensure we curtail their excesses. We are working on it 24 hours daily with the collaboration of the governor and the Commissioner of Police. It is not easy to tackle them but we are working.
“Regardless of who they are, we are going to trap them. They don’t have targets. They just lay ambush by the road and farms and take our people away.”
A source disclosed that recently, that the kidnappers abducted three villagers and a huge undisclosed ransom was paid. The source said that the whole village had to raise the amount paid as ransom.
Sunday Sun investigations revealed that the security agencies have mounted intensive surveillance on the kidnappers, which would lead to their being apprehended in due course.
“Recently, they (kidnappers) went to a farm in Igbodu and abducted farmers. This has made people afraid of going to their farms again. But now we have units of the Special Armed Robbery Squad (SARS) and Mobile police personnel fully on ground. We are also forming local community vigilance group and we work hand in hand with the state government,” Badru said.
He explained that the spate of kidnapping has taken a toll on the economy of the community and affected development: “There is no community that has crisis that would develop. People have refused to come in and it is affecting our economy. Many investors have started leaving and even the people are almost relocating. We have only been assuring them that they are safe. Even the palace is really disturbed by the development and we are really trying to address it.”
He spoke further: “Our Kabiyesi, the Alaketu of Ketu-Epe, Oba Adefowora Adegboyega, is putting everything in place to ensure we curb the menace of kidnappers that has made us restless. We have about four security agencies that are working with us to ensure they are brought to book.”
Recently, a policewoman was reportedly kidnapped within the community and released by her abductors afterwards. The said policewoman had just completed night duty and was going home when she was abducted.
An unidentified White man was also kidnapped within the community, after being trailed from Ikeja axis of the state.
One of the residents of Epe Town, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, disclosed to Sunday Sun reporter that the heinous crime had been going on for a long time, attributing the menace to the fact that Epe is heavily forested, thus making it a suitable hub for kidnappers and making their illicit business to thrive.
“Epe has a lot of thick forests. The community is now a hideout for the kidnappers. Ketu-Epe is their major territory and we also have places like Isala, Igbodu, Bolajoye, Itoko. For us, it is a very pathetic situation despite that we should be happy always for the laudable projects by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, who is a son of the land,” he said.