Residents have attributed the violence to the alleged neglect of security operatives by the immediate past government.
Wole Balogun, Ado Ekiti
Residents of communities in Ekiti State are living in fear, following the recent wave of violence, kidnapping and killings that has enveloped the state.
Many are more worried that the security agencies are yet to unravel the mystery behind the surge of abductions and killings currently plaguing the state.
Indeed, the months after the July 14, 2018, governorship poll, which brought in Governor Kayode Fayemi, have recorded challenging security issues and tragic incidents.
While some residents have attributed the development to the change in government and alleged laxity on the part of the security apparatus, others, particularly the current leadership in the state, have blamed the violence on the alleged neglect of security operatives by the immediate past government.
Shortly before the poll, the state quaked under the terror of some killings believed to have been perpetrated by cultists. Seven young men suspected to be cultists were killed. Then came the gruesome murder of a shining light in the state, a former commissioner with the Federal Character Commission, Comrade Bunmi Ojo.
His killing by yet-to-be-apprehended gunmen shocked many young people in Ekiti. Many wailed and cursed the cruel fate that befell the father of three young kids.
His wife, Mrs. Funmi Ojo, said her late husband was shot dead at close range with local guns in a public viewing centre in the Adebayo area of Ado Ekiti.
That incident heralded a wave of armed robbery attacks on banks in some communities in the state. In Ilawe, headquarters of Ekiti West Local Government Area, a bank robbery resulted in the deaths of two young men, while another in Ido-Ekiti, headquarters of Ido-Osi Local Government Area, had four persons, including three policemen, losing their lives.
A member of the state House of Assembly, Michael Adedeji, was in the night of October 26, 2018, shot dead in Ikere Ekiti while he was driving to Akure. While residents alleged that cultists gunned him down, the police said it was an attack by armed robbers.
A lawyer, Adeola Adebayo, 33, was kidnapped on November 17, 2018. He was eventually killed by his abductors even after they had collected ransom.
He was allegedly kidnapped on the Efon-Erio-Aramoko Road and taken to an undisclosed location. His decomposing body was found on Sunday, December 2, last year.
On December 6, 2018, Matthew Favour, a 16-year-old student of Ado Grammar School, Ado-Ekiti, was hacked to death with a machete by another student, Kehinde Timilehin, within the school premises during a juju (voodoo) supremacy contest.
On Friday, December 20, bandits struck again in the home of an All Progressive Congress (APC) House of Assembly candidate for Ekiti West Constituency II, Tajudeen Akingbolu.
Akingbolu, who hails from Aramoko Ekiti in Ekiti West, said the trauma of the attack unleashed on his family by the bandits was indescribable, adding that his eight-year-old daughter was still horrified by the incident.
Also in the morning of Thursday, December 27, some gunmen despatched another young man to his early grave in front of the Tosin Aluko Park along the Ado-Ikere Road in the Ajilosun area of the state capital.
The following day, the councillor of Ward 9 in Ado Ekiti Local Government Area was murdered in the night. The deceased, Deji Akeredolu, was also an aide to Mr. Deji Ogunsakin, the running mate to Prof. Olusola Eleka, the Ekiti PDP gubernatorial candidate in the July 14, 2018, governorship election.
Reacting to the development, Mr. Ogunsakin decried the insecurity in the state and called on Fayemi to ensure that the situation was urgently tackled.
“I am also calling on the state commissioner of police to address the situation,” he said.
On Tuesday, January 1, gunmen struck again, killing an accounting officer with Emure Local Government area, Mr. Abayomi Ajayi.
It was gathered that Ajayi was killed at about 8pm along Ikere-Ise Road while returning from work. Two other workers of the council were kidnapped during the incident.
The kidnapped victims, according to sources, were the coordinator of the State Primary Health Care, Dr Fashina and the Administrative Officer, Pastor Onaade. The two regained their freedom on Saturday, January 5, after the police clamped down on the criminals.
In a petition addressed to Governor Fayemi, copies of which were submitted to the commissioner of police in the state and the director of the Department of State Service (DSS), the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) said the violence in Ekiti had assumed worrisome dimensions.
The petition, which was signed by Mr. Ibrahim Olarenwaju, a leader of the state NBA, Ikole branch, read in part: “The purpose of government is to provide security for lives and property.
“The state government is not oblivious of the activities of these deadly killers between Iwaraja and Aramoko Ekiti. We demand immediate request for the deployment of troops to comb the area, arrest and bring to justice those who perpetrated this killing.”
The state police public relations officer, Mr. Caleb Ikechukwu, said the police have been doing a yeoman’s job in responding to the security challenges. He stated that insecurity was not peculiar to Ekiti, as that there were security issues in many parts of the country.
His words: “You know that Ekiti State celebrated Christmas season without any security hitch. Recently, we have arrested six cultists suspected to belong to the Aye confraternity and four armed robbers who were armed with cut-to-size guns. This was early this month.
“And about the kidnap case along Ise road, we went after them and were able to rescue two of the victims. It was just unfortunate that one of them was shot at the spot of the incident.
“The security agencies have met with the state government and we have deliberated so much on the way out of the security situation. Throughout the festive season, our men were on the road, and there wasn’t any security issue.
“We have a new deputy commissioner (DC Operations), AC Operations and a new commissioner. We also are going to have a new commander for the Mobile Force. With all these changes, we ensure that all hands are on deck to make sure that the security apparatus is working. The state government has always been very cooperative. The government has been having meetings with all the security agencies in the state to ensure peace in the state.
“The state governor has given his word that the Ikere-Ondo axis should have a 24-hour surveillance. He has asked for a template to provide the logistics and that has been made available. The state government is cooperating with us in that regard to ensure that Ekiti is well secured. I urge the people of the state to rest assured that they won’t have any security issues any longer.”
Mr. Rotimi Essential Aromolaran, a United States-trained security consultant, said Ekiti was in urgent need of a homeland security unit. The Igbole-Ekiti-born security expert said it was worrisome that Ekiti was being turned into a killing field by some unscrupulous elements and urged the state government to work on fixing the problems immediately.
Said he: “I advise Governor Fayemi to ensure that he puts in place what one can call a homeland security team or department. I am sure that the state already has a security council, but there is an urgent need to have a homeland security unit, which will enable the state government to know what really is happening about the security challenges in the state. The unit will have a presence in all the local government areas.
“We do not know whether what is happening in the state is as a result of the last governorship election in the state, which has led to a change of government. How does one explain a situation where after a change of government such security issues are coming up? I believe that Governor Fayemi should be able to do this because of his experience as a strategist and all that.
I strongly believe that structurally, something is lacking in terms of security in the state and the state government should urgently fix that.
“I also want to advise the people of the state to be security conscious. They should also cultivate the habit of alerting the security agencies to issues of insecurity and crime. The people should have a strong neighbourhood watch system. They should relate well with one another with a view to watching against security threats. Also, the act of volunteerism should be imbibed by the people. When the criminals know that the people are watchful and well informed, they would be wary of committing crimes.
“The security apparatus have to be more proactive. The intelligence arm of the Nigeria police can very well handle the situation if they really want to. This I know so much. The flash points or vulnerable points for security issues in the state should be taken care of very well and on time. They should be more proactive and effective. The police and other intelligence agencies have the training and the capacity to do this very well. If the logistics are lacking, the state government should make that available. Government and the security agencies must ensure that everything necessary is done to stop the violence in the state.”