Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has expressed serious concern on the frequency of kidnap incidents in the South-West region especially on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in recent times, saying the high rate of the sad incidents these days were engendering so much concern regarding the territorial expansion of terrorists and bandits.
Besides, the pan-Yoruba group also described as disturbing the reports of the burning of the offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abeokuta, Ogun State and Ede in Osun State at the weekend, saying such incidents portend negative implications “on the 2023 elections, among others as had happened in some South-Eastern states” of the country.
Afenifere expressed this concern on Monday in a release issued by its spokesperson, Comrade Jare Ajayi, a copy of which was made available to newsmen, even as the group recalled some of the particular kidnap incidents on the ever-busy Lagos- Ibadan Expressway, among others, calling on the Federal Government to show more seriousness in tackling the problem “to prevent Nigeria from becoming another Afghanistan.”
According to Afenifere, in the last two years, incidents of kidnapping had occurred in the South-West, saying the menace had become more pronounced in recent times.
It recalled that victims of the recent past weeks kidnap incident near Dominion University and Shagamu Interchange on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway included the former Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan (UI), Prof. Adigun Agbaje and five others, saying Agbaje was released after payment of a ransom running into millions of naira.
“Reports also had it that suspected Fulani bandits attacked travellers on October 27, 2022, abducting five persons and killing several others. Two days after, on October 29th, seven bandits in Irele Ekiti-Oke Ako Highway in Ajoni Local Council Development Area, Ekiti State abducted four travellers.
“One of the survivors of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway kidnapping, 22-year old Aminat Taiwo, said that the ‘kidnappers were more than 30; they covered their faces. They were putting on Army and police uniforms.’
“She later added that they shot victims whose relatives could not pay the demanded ransoms,” Afenifere recalled.
“On Tuesday, November 8 this year, gunmen dressed in military uniforms again attacked commuters travelling on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. The gunmen reportedly stormed the road near Sagamu Interchange, Lagos and started shooting at passengers in the 18-passenger inter-state bus,” the group added.
Still, on past kidnap incidents across the South-West region, Afenifere listed the one that took place on a farm near Ipapo and on Okaka-Otu Road both in Oke Ogun, as well as the ones that took place in the Ibarapa area of Oyo State as well as those that occurred in Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Kwara and Lagos states, expressing the hope that efforts would quickly be made to ensure that the situation in the South-West does not degenerate into what is presently obtainable in certain parts of the North.
This was just as the pan- Yoruba group urged that efforts be made to put an end to the ones happening in the North and elsewhere in the county as well, noting sadly that the land had become so dire that marauders do even invade houses to pick their victims.
“For instance, last week Monday, a Catholic priest, Father Kunat and eight others were abducted in separate attacks in Idon, Kajuru Local Government Area and in Oil Village, a suburb of Kaduna metropolis, located near the Kaduna refinery,” he said.
“For instance, between January and October this year, several kidnappings have taken place on Lagos-Ibadan expressway as well as on Oyo-Ogbomoso-Ilorin Expressway with some captives losing their lives even after ransoms were paid,” it added.
Afenifere further recalled the kidnap of Mr Ibrahim Mailafia who was later killed by his abductors after three million ransom was paid for his life, expressing dismay that his assailants were so heartless and had the effrontery to ask the family of Mailafia in Kaduna to bring N10 million if they wanted the corpse of their family member.
“Does it mean that Nigeria is becoming or has become a country where head or tail, the citizens are now at the mercy of terrorists?” the group queried.
“Government and our security agencies need to brace up,” it urged.
Afenifere, therefore, implored the South-West governments to turn Amotekun into a strong regional outfit to protect the region, saying that the governors should collectively approach President Muhammadu Buhari along with the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to let them save their people from being enslaved by bandits.
“Drones and relevant security equipment must be purchased and deplored to quickly snuff life out of the monster that is threatening to consume us.
“Everything must be done to ensure that normalcy returns and that Nigeria does not become another region where terrorists hold sway. South-West governors should do more!” the group demanded.
Speaking on the attacks carried out by unknown gunmen on INEC offices in Ogun and Osun states at the weekend, Afenifere spokesperson, Comrade Ajayi, while describing the incidents as disturbing, pointedly declared that unauthorized burning of any property was condemnable by all standards.
Ajayi said the arson was condemnable the fact that it happened in the South-West region, even as he called for an investigation to be carried on the incident in order to make it “be the last of such occurrences,” adding: “There should be no excuse whatsoever to put the 2023 general elections in jeopardy.”
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