By Job Osazuwa
The wave of killings and kidnappings in different parts of Nigeria has unsettled Nigerians at home and abroad.
In the last few weeks, the number of Nigerians killed or kidnapped in different parts of the country has been on the rise. This has led to calls to the authorities to swiftly rise to the occasion and arrest the ugly development.
Many Nigerians have complained of the worsening insecurity situation across the country.
From Ondo to Enugu, Kogi to Borno, there has been tales of sorrow, anguish and death. Travellers now dread the expressways as a result of activities of bandits, robbers, assassins, kidnappers and other criminal elements.
Both the rich and the poor are caught in the web. The people are lamenting and beseeching the government tor a lasting solution.
Expectedly, following the unsavoury news coming out from different parts of Nigeria, fear has gripped the residents. These days, motorists and commuters are said to be scared of embarking on any journey as they are confronted with the uncertainties of safely getting to their destination or returning home in peace.
Just last Thursday, at least three people were killed in two separate attacks by gunmen in Ondo.
Not even monarchs are safe
A first class traditional ruler, the Olufon of Ifon in Ondo State, Oba Israel Adegoke Adewusi, was one of the victims as he was shot dead by the yet-to-be identified gunmen at Elegbeka, along Owo-Ifon Road in Ose Local Government Area of the state.
The traditional ruler was returning to his domain after attending a meeting of the council of traditional rulers in the state capital, Akure when he was shot.
Since the incident occurred, residents of Ifon and beyond, who have been thrown into mourning, have demanded better security in the state. Youths and leaders in the town have also called the governments to fix the damaged federal roads in the area. Where bandits frequently use for kidnappings and other crimes.
Meanwhile, the murder of the monarch came a few hours after the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu visited the state to access the destruction and looting of police stations during the EndSARS protest.
Barely 24 hours after the traditional ruler was murdered, the wife of the Chief of Staff to the Ondo State governor, Chief Olugbenga Ale, was also abducted by gunmen.
It was gathered that Mrs Ale was kidnapped at Owena in Idanre Local Government Area of the state on Thursday night.
A source said the victim was returning from Lagos to Akure when she was whisked away by the gun-wielding bandits who laid siege on the highway and marched her into the forest.
Meanwhile, she has regained her freedom after spending two days with her abductors.
The woman, who was kidnapped along with another woman, was said to have been rescued by men of the State Security Agency, Amotekun Corps, on Saturday.
It was said that the Amotekun Corps collaborated with local hunters and vigilantes in the area to trace the perpetrators of the crime and the synergy yielded result early Saturday morning.
Two persons were also reportedly kidnapped at the same spot after the shooting incident.
In a separate incident, two persons were shot in Ode-Irele area of Irele local government, on the same day, when armed robbers attacked a bank and a nearby police station.
The police spokesman, Tee Leo-Ikoro, confirmed both incidents allegedly carried out by different sets of armed men.
Oba Adewusi was rushed to the Federal Medical Centre in Owo, where he died of gunshot injuries.
Ondo State Government, in a statement issued by the state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Donald Ojogo, described the murder of the monarch as sad and unfortunate.
Lamenting the state of insecurity in Nigeria, he said that the incident had again confirmed that the country was indeed in a serious security crisis beyond the ordinary.
The state governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who visited Ifon, directed security agencies, especially the Nigeria police, to arrest the perpetrators of the crime.
He said that the government would do whatever it takes to apprehend the criminals.
At Irele, witnesses confirmed that the armed robbers broke into the bank after destroying the fortified entrance with explosives.
The robbery incident came hours after the Inspector General of Police left the state, after a visit to raise the morale of police officers.
The robbers, who were said to have arrived at the bank around 4 pm, also attacked a nearby police station.
No respite from North to South
There have been persistent attacks on communities, particularly in the northern part of Nigeria. Apart from Borno State, which has been held hostage for years by the Boko Haram insurgents, the northern part of Kaduna has been under siege by men who have sworn to unleash terror on the people. Many residents of the state have been slaughtered while houses and other belongings have gone up in flames in the hands of arsonists while the owners watched helplessly.
Many Nigerians are perturbed over the spate at which the killing spree is spreading from one state to another.
Gunmen are invading towns, villages, burning houses, and vehicles.
Indigenous community clashes along with incidents of kidnapping and robbery are also on the rise.
Fear on the roads
A driver with one of the major transport companies in Lagos, who plies Benin-Lagos route, Mr Alfred Ikponmwonsa, told the reporter that travelling along many routes in Nigeria has become a nightmare due to the presence of bandits along many highways of the country.
“As I speak, every journey we embark on is a risk. On many occasions, we have had to park somewhere and be asking oncoming vehicles if the road was safe to continue the journey. It is very sad because this is not how it should be.
“Everybody is afraid to travel by the road. But it is only a few people that can afford traveling by air. Let’s not forget that the aircraft cannot take the passengers to their doorsteps. They still need to board a taxi to complete their journey. So, everyone is at risk.
“The government needs to do something quickly and rescue Nigeria from failing totally. The police and other security forces including the paramilitary bodies should collaborate and end the crisis,” he said.
With the spate of attacks on the rise, criticisms have continued to mount against the government for its seeming inability to tackle the situation effectively. Many are of the opinion that the government has been too slow in taking action to end the attacks. Many religious and other social groups have in recent times, embarked on peaceful protests to express their displeasure over the rising insecurity in the country and have also called for the replacement of the country’s security chiefs.
The loss of confidence in the country’s security is believed to have created a compelling case for regions to take matters into their own hands by forming regional security groups, such as the “Amotekun”.
In a chat with Daily Sun, a Lagos-based rights activist, Adebayo Olamekan also believed that with the unabated attacks, confidence in the governments’ ability to protect its citizens was diminishing and approaching its lowest ebb.
“We must realise quickly that if these attacks and killings are not effectively dealt with, it could lead to anarchy.
“It is only in Nigeria that you hear government officials arguing over how many people that were killed. It irritates me whenever any killing is justified. A single loss of life is enough to give those in the helms of affairs sleepless nights. But people don’t just care here. We move on easily. We forget easily,” Olamekan said.
Also, on November 6, 16 persons were kidnapped along the Akure-Owo Expressway, in Uso town in Owo Local Government Area (LGA) of the state.
Among the victims was the Iyaloja of Isua Akoko In Akoko South East Local Government Area of Ondo State, Chief Mrs Helen Edward and some other market women.
It was gathered that the victims were coming from the monthly meeting of women market leaders in Akure when they were abducted.
A source said the driver of the bus conveying the victims was immediately released by the abductors who asked him to go home and inform the families of the victims.
The police image-maker, Ikoro confirmed the incident, but said that 10 of the victims were already released.
There are worries that in spite of the presence of Amotekun, a local security outfit in the state, people could still not sleep with their two eyes closed.
But there are speculations that the state governor has neglected the local security outfit, arguing that the flagging off of Amotekun in the state was a mere ceremony without any political will to give it the necessary support.
Massacre in Borno
On Sunday, tears flowed freely as over a thousand residents of Zabarmari, a farming town near Maiduguri, Borno’s capital, gathered round the bodies of the 43 murdered farmers wrapped in white clothes near the mass grave at the outskirts of the community.
The farmers were slaughtered last Saturday by Boko Haram insurgents during an attack on a rice farm.
Governor Babagana Zulum, who joined the Muslim prayers, described the attack and killings as disheartening.
“It is disheartening that more than 40 citizens were slaughtered while they were working in their farmlands. Our people are in very difficult situations; they are in two different extreme conditions. On the one side, they stay at home and they may be killed by hunger and starvation. On the other, when they go out to their farmlands, they risk getting killed by the insurgents. I am told some persons are still missing. We have been discussing with the military since yesterday. Insha Allah, the remaining people will be traced soon,” he told journalists after the burial.
He admitted that the dreaded Islamic sect, Boko Haram, exists in many parts of Borno and was a threat to over six million people in the state. The governor said the presence of the deadly sect still holding on Sambisa forest and the Lake Chad regions in northern Borno is worrisome.
He, therefore, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to listen to the voice of the people to ensure the formation of a coalition to defeat Boko Haram in the North East. He also asked the Federal Government to consider the recruitment of more youths from Borno into the police and army.
Joining other Nigerians to decry the situation, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan urged the security agencies to redouble their efforts with a view to bringing an end to mindless violent crimes in different parts of the country.
In its contribution, the Oodua Progressive Union (OPU) in Europe, last week, claimed that the security situation in Nigeria was coloured with nepotism, sectionalism and lack of competence.
Rising from a summit involving its executive council members, leaders and top delegates of the 17 European countries, where the OPU is established on that continent, the group lamented that the ship of state appeared to be rudderless as insecurity, banditry, Boko Haram terrorists, herdsmen, appear to be having a field day.
The group, formed by the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land, Iba Gani Adams in 2011, for Yoruba men and women in the Diaspora, said: “OPU is disturbed with the news coming from home, regarding the killing of a first-class Yoruba monarch, the Olufon of Ifon, Oba Adegoke Adeusi in Ondo state
Also lending his voice to the matter, a safety and security consultant, Mr Rotimi Aromolaran said there was an urgent need to overhaul the entire security architecture in the country.
Responding to some Nigerians who are calling for the removal of the service chiefs, the expert believed that it might not be the solution needed to curtail the lingering ugly situation.
He said that Nigerians were fond of playing politics with everything, including security issues. He stated that security should be a top priority that should not be treated with levity by anyone.
Said he: “It is high time we restructured everything that is necessary to be restructured concerning Nigeria’s security system. We need to look at the police, army and other security agencies and reposition them for better performance. There should be training and retraining for all security agents. There must be a synergy among all the security agencies.
“The spate of killing and kidnapping is becoming too rampant and unbearable. It is a dangerous situation that we now find ourselves in this country.
“Nobody is safe any longer in all the geo-political zones, though it is worse in some regions than others.
“This is not the time for long speeches by the authorities. Practical steps must be taken to solve the crises.
In everything, we bring in politics and sentiment. No country plays politics with its security. What we need is a strong and functional system that can effortlessly take care of most of the problems at hand. If we remove the Inspector General of Police or the Chief of Army Staff, are we not going to replace them with other Nigerians? Overhauling of the entire security system is what we require to deal with the banditry, kidnapping, killings, clashes and other crimes in Nigeria.”
A Whatsapp message obviously sent to someone that went viral showed how insecurity has been causing unease in the state.
“I arrived at Owo this afternoon from my base: my brother, my experience on the road, particularly the Ifon -Owo axis, is frightening! Nearly every two kilometres, you see abandoned cars on the road. What I am recounting is an eyesore between Elegbeka and Omolege villages and other adjoining hamlets along the road. When I stopped to find out what was happening, I was told the owners of those cars and buses had been taken inside the forest where they are being held for ransom; otherwise, they are killed by the kidnappers if they cannot meet the demand for ransom payment.
“What baffles me most is that hundreds of our people are held hostage against their wishes and our government pretends as if nothing is happening. I did not come across any Amotekun patrol or police check points except two Army check points and what they do there is turn the checkpoints into toll gates to collect money.
At the moment, Nigerians are anxious and scared, as no one knows who the next victim might be.