A socio-cultural group, Tiwa n Tiwa L’Osun Development Association, has lent its voice to calls for concerted efforts aimed at tackling the rising cases of kidnapping across the South West of Nigeria and the need to be proactive before the disturbing menace becomes an intractable national crisis.
In a statement signed by the group’s founder and ex-Osun gubernatorial aspirant, Kunle Rasheed Adegoke (K Rad), while congratulating Nigerians on the June 12 anniversary and its total recognition by the Buhari Administration, particularly charged the South West governors on the need to form a regional cohesion to curb the ugly trend, which is engulfing the region.
The group advised the Osun State Governor, Gboyega Oyetola, in particular to double security efforts in some identified red zones noted for notorious kidnapping and other nefarious activities in the state.
The statement reads in part: “In the past few months, the organised crime of kidnapping that seemed only a distant rumble has finally landed in the Southwest region of Nigeria in its most violent and cruel form.
“Events in the past one year have been extraordinary in a trend of worsening spectre.
In Osun, Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti and Ogun states, incidents of kidnapping for ransom is eviscerating the region with lives lost, women raped and people deeply traumatized. We note with particular interest the situation in Osun State with emphasis on the following areas: Osun portion of the Akure-Ilesa expressway; Erinmo-Itawure-Eti Oni-Esa Oke axis; Iwo-Ede-Osogbo road; and Ibokun junction on Ilesa-Osogbo road.
“Those that fell victim during the kidnapping incidents that occurred in these areas included clergymen (from the Methodist Church, Osogbo), traditional rulers, university lecturers and several private individuals. There are authentic reports of rotten bodies found in the forests during searches as well as cars apparently belonging to unknown victims found abandoned on the roads.
“Evidently, this situation cannot be allowed to continue for a moment longer. We strongly believe that it is now time to rise as a people to confront and halt this cruel decimation, humiliation and affliction of our people. While we note that the rampaging criminal activity lends itself to a raft of political conspiracy theories, we want to remain on the track of the need to keep our people safe both in their homes and on the roads to earn their daily bread.
“We want to avoid distractions of interpretations and conjectures and focus on the act of crime and the direct and indirect means of taking the battle to the criminals. It should not matter if there is politics or sundry conspiracies involved, the matter at issue is that our people have to be defended and protected at this time against the havoc of kidnappers and other criminals of whatever colour.
“After a careful consideration and investigation of reported incidents and the means by which they were carried out, and while commending the Governor of Osun State, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola on the recent step he reportedly took towards addressing this criminal activity in the State, we hereby recommend that the Governor and the Speaker of the State House of Assembly co-host an interactive session with the people of Osun State and the Press on the matter. This, we believe, will give authentic feed back with respect to other crimes unsuspected or un-profiled.
“We also call on the State government to ensure, as a matter of existential urgency, that a 30-meter setback along each of the roads in the aforementioned areas is cleared of all trees and undergrowth. This will make both ambush and escape harder for the criminals, just as it will give the security forces an advantage against the perpetrators of the dastardly acts. It will also enable potential victims to detect suspicious convergence along the roads and quickly plot an escape.
“The section of the Akure-Ilesa expressway should also be cleared of side bushes up to Owena, the boundary town between Osun and Ondo States.
“We equally call for an expanded stakeholders’ meeting comprising all elected officials in the State, selected opinion leaders, retired military service men and women, retired police officers, traditional rulers, religious leaders among others, with the aim of deliberating on setting up community-based task forces which are to work with the police authorities and other security operatives across the State.
“Modern electronic means of surveillance like the use of drones with night vision capabilities, infestation of the forests with GPS-tagged minuscule listening devices, installation of observation cameras, etc should also be considered.
“The forum will also need to consider means of coordinating the supply and flow of invaluable intelligence from people in each locality, particularly hunters and farmers all over the State. We call upon the state government to immediately set up means of collecting information and intelligence from local communities affected by this menace. Such means should make provision for discreet submissions for people who wish to remain unidentified.
“While we make these recommendations to the government of Osun, we also call on Governors of other South Western States to rise up to this occasion by replicating the above suggestions in their various States.
“An unsecured neighbourhood is a fertile breeding ground for insecurity in every home in the area. Upon all, we call on our people to rise to this challenge and rally to explore how to rein in these attacks and defend the peace and tranquility we have been blessed with for so long. One that has nurtured our development as a people since the end of the Kiriji War in 1893.”