The spate of kidnapping in the last three months across the South-West is becoming worrisome despite the advent of the Western Security Network codenamed Amotekun by the South-West governors.
Though kidnap cases have been on the increase, Amotekun, in collaboration with the police, Department of State Service, DSS and other security agencies, have worked round the clock to rescue victims from kidnappers’ dens.
In Ondo State, there have been countless abductions over the last three months. While some victims were rescued alive, others died at the hands of their captors.
Unfortunately, in one of the abductions, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who was abducted by bandits, Mr. Bamidele Emmanuel Isibor, was shot dead.
Isibor, 62, a father of five was a member of the state executive committee of the party. He was attacked in the company of three others on their way from Imoru to Ifon, the headquarters of Ose Council Area of the state.
They were heading back to Ifon after a church programme when five armed men attacked them.
The late party chieftain died of gunshot wounds.
Also, 13 passengers on transit from Abuja en route to Lagos were abducted by 10 gunmen at a bad portion of the Ifira-Akoko highway in Akoko South-East area of Ondo State at about 6:30 pm.
Although, Amotekun claimed it rescued the victims but it was gathered that the bandits took three of the victims away including two women and a man.
They immediately sent words to the family of one of the victims requesting for N10 million ransom before she could be released.
The father of one of the victims, Ojo Fajana said: “The kidnappers demanded N10 million and they were given rigid instructions. Something went out of my pocket.”
Another case was the kidnap of a 14-year-old JSS 2 student, Felix Adekunle of Furaben International College Owo, in Owo Council Area of the state, who was kidnapped while hawking slippers after school hours and a 12-year-old groundnut seller, Abibat Saani in Ofosu, Ore in Odigbo Council Area of the state.
Their parents reportedly parted with an undisclosed amount of money as ransom before they were released.
Similarly, last weekend, gunmen abducted a university lecturer, Mayowa David Adinlewa and demanded N10 million ransom.
Adinlewa, who is of the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba, Akoko, AAUA, was abducted along bad Akure-Ikere Ekiti road.
The victim’s brother, Toyin confirmed that the kidnappers opened a line of communication with the family and demanded N10 million ransom.
Within the week, a family of four on a religious trip was again abducted at Iju-Itagbolu in Akure North Council Area of the state.
The family, including the father, his two children and another family member were abducted while on transit from Ado Ekiti, Ekiti state to attend a religious programme in Akure, the Ondo State capital. Three other passengers in the vehicle escaped.
Findings by Vanguard indicated that relations and family members of victims may have parted with almost N10 million as ransom to kidnappers within the last three months in the state.
When contacted, the state commander of Amotekun, Chief Adetunji Adeleye said that the security outfit was working in synergy with the DSS and Police to rid the state of criminal elements.
Adeleye, who noted that the state security network agency would make the state uncomfortable for criminals and make it crime-free, said they have foiled 35 kidnap cases.
He said: “We have arrested no fewer than 400 suspected criminals in the ongoing Operation Clean up across the state.
“We started from the state capital and combed all the black spots and made over 400 arrests before we headed to the local government areas and concentrated on the Northern Senatorial District where we embarked on 24 hours patrol.
“We engaged the services of local hunters and vigilante to join our men and patrol the forest. Substantially, we were also able to drive out the bad guys in recent times. You will find out that most of the kidnap cases you get nowadays are at the border.
“We have put out searchlight and we have mapped out security strategies to checkmate the activities of those bad people. But we are checking them.
“We want to ensure that all persons travelling along the highways, major roads, remote areas, hinterland, forests, inland waterways, and sea are free to carry out their normal social and economic activities without fear or hindrance.”
We’re not aware of the demand, payment of ransom —Police
Also reacting, the state Police Command spokesperson, Funmilayo Odunlami said the Command’s anti-kidnapping unit was on top of the situation.
Odunlami said that several suspected kidnappers have been arrested and charged to court.
On payment of ransom by victims, Odunlami said: “I don’t know anything about the ransom demand.”
Retired AVM, 4 others abducted in Lagos
It is the same story as there seems to be a resurgence in kidnapping in Lagos, following the abduction of five persons, including Air Vice-Marshal Sikiru Smith, retd, in two days.
Vanguard gathered that retired AVM Smith was abducted at about 6 pm on Monday, September 27, 2021, at a site near Blenco Mall on Addo Road, Ajah area of Lagos.
The gunmen, who were hooded, announced their presence with sporadic gunshots before abducting him.
He was said to have put up some resistance, demanding to know who the intruders were but were overpowered and dragged into the kidnappers’ speedboat.
Eyewitnesses said the gunmen released some shots into the air to scare people, thus causing a stampede among passers-by who scampered in different directions to avoid being hit by stray bullets.
While the operation lasted, his driver, Corporal Odiji, was absent, as he was said to have gone on an errand for his boss.
RCCG pastor, wife, others abducted
Aside from the retired Air Chief, other persons also fell victim to kidnapping in Lagos, including a pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, and his wife. The kidnappers intercepted their vehicle at Dopemu, Agege area of Lagos, on their way home.
The kidnappers, it was gathered, fired some shots into the air, dragged the couple’s driver out of the car and forced him into one of their operational cars.
His wife has been released by the gunmen after an unspecified amount was paid as ransom.
The abductors were said to have demanded N50 million for her husband’s release.
In another attack, a man with an unknown identity was kidnapped by hooded gunmen on Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1, 24 hours earlier, another Pastor, Kingsley Ogbuagu, was also kidnapped by unknown gunmen near Catholic Church of the Visitation, Festac Town, last Sunday.
Ogbuagu had parked his car and was about to enter the church when three masked gunmen dragged and bundled him into a waiting Lexus SUV and drove off.
Vanguard learned that the Lekki-Ajah axis is prone to kidnap attacks, some of which the Police have botched.
Vanguard also gathered that the kidnappers pose as private taxi drivers, only to take their unsuspecting passengers to unknown destinations.
13 people kidnapped in Ogun
In Ogun State, no fewer than 13 persons were kidnapped by suspected gunmen between July and September 2021, while about 12 kidnappers were arrested during the period under review by the state command of the Nigeria Police. Also, one policeman lost his life in one of the operations, while three kidnappers were killed during a gun duel with the police.
Analysis of series of kidnappings in the state within the three months under review showed that a retired lecturer of Federal Polytechnic, Offa, Kwara State, Fasasi Olanigan, was kidnapped while travelling from Abeokuta to Imasai in Yewa North Local Government Area of the state.
In August, a Swiss national and his Nigerian driver were abducted after a gunfight between the victim’s police escort and unknown attackers, while coming from a farm on the Ibese-Itori road.
Also, the 25-year-old son of a former National Secretary of the Nigerian Medical Association, Adewunmi Alayaki; Ademola Alayaki was kidnapped at his father’s farm in Isaga Orile, Abeokuta North Local Government Area of the state and demanded N20 million ransom before freeing Ademola.
In September, an eight-month pregnant woman and two others were kidnapped along Igbo-Ora-Sokoto road in Abeokuta North Local Government Area of the state and demanded a ransom of N30 million. Also, three workers of Obasanjo Holdings in Kobape, Obafemi/Owode Local Government were kidnapped by unknown gunmen around Seseri village.
The abductees were the company’s Financial Controller, the Group Auditor and the Group Store Manager.
The Police, however, made headway as men of the State Command of the Nigeria Police arrested 10 suspected kidnappers.
While five of the kidnappers were arrested in Ogere-Remo while trying to collect N3.5m ransom for an eight-year-old boy, Sadiq Abass, they had kidnapped, others were arrested in different locations in the state.
No cause to fear—Ogun Amotekun boss
Reacting to the series of kidnappings in the state, Ogun State Commander of Amotekun Corps, Mr. David Ajibola Akinremi, has said that the corps was established to serve the people of the state
Akinremi said: “Amotekun has always been collaborating with other security agencies in the state to ensure the security of lives and property, especially when issues like kidnapping occur. I want to assure our people that they have no cause to fear. The governor had given a mandate and we are ready to ensure the actualisation of that mandate. That is to say, we assure of protection of lives and property for everybody living in the state.
“There is no security without human beings and no human beings without security. It is a symbiotic relationship. The work of security agencies at whatever level cannot be done without the support of the people.
“That is why we want to build a people-oriented organisation.
“As we all know, security is everybody’s business and we must all join hands to ensure a safe environment. They should collaborate with us.”
In Osun State, there was no incident of kidnapping reported in the last three months.
The Amotekun Corps Commandant in Osun State, Brig. Gen. Bashir Adewinmbi (retd), said this is largely due to surveillance and past successes in tackling kidnapping in the state.
Adewinmbi said: “Presently, there is no case of kidnapping reported so far. I believe, to a large extent, it was due to past successes security agencies achieved in rescuing victims of kidnap in the state.
“Amotekun is not doing this alone, we work with other security operatives and local hunters in areas where such incidents occurred to trail suspects and in most cases, rescue victims.
“More importantly, recently at the inauguration of Amotekun Corps in the state, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola also announced the engagement of vigilante groups on intelligence gathering to forestall any form of criminality.’
Vanguard News Nigeria
One killed as commercial cyclists, police clash in Lagos
The clash, which occurred around 4:30pm at the Oko-Oba area of Abule Egba, was said to have been triggered by a minor accident on the Abule Egba Bridge involving a motorist and a rider.
It was gathered that police operatives who went to the accident scene to broker peace between the motorist and a mob of motorcyclists that gathered were violently attacked by the irate crowd.
The operatives were said to have defended themselves leading to the death of one of the riders.
Confirming the incident, police spokesman, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, said the situation was brought under control by the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) and his men.
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He said two suspects were arrested and that investigation was ongoing.
“We are fully aware of the disturbances in Oko-Oba area of Lagos State. Our officers have been deployed. Situation has been brought under control.
“After a minor accident involving a car and a motorcycle occurred on the Abule-Egba Bridge at about 1630hrs today, motorcycle riders in their numbers started fomenting trouble.
“Police arrived on the scene to quell the unrest. The riders violently attacked the Police.
“This resulted in the death of one of the riders. Normalcy has been restored to the area. The DPO Oko-Oba and his men are fully on ground to forestall any breakdown of law and order.”
Insecurity: Terrorists, bandits are threats to 2023 poll, says Dambazzau
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Former Interior Minister Abdulrahman Dambazau yesterday reflected on the worsening insecurity in the country, warning that terrorism and banditry may threaten next year’s general election.
He urged security agencies to intensify the war against terror and kidnapping by taking the battle to the criminals in their hideouts.
Gen. Dambazau, a former Chief of Army Staff, who delivered a paper at the yearly Public Lectures and Impact Series/Awards of the Blueprint Newspaper Limited in Abuja, lamented that terrorists were creating cells close to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
He called for the review of security strategies and reforms to combat criminality, while also warning against ethno-religious politics.
As concern mounts on insecurity, governors are expected to meet today in Abuja to deliberate on the common threat and solutions.
Yesterday, Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawalle signed the death penalty bill as part of measures to combat kidnappings.
In Lagos State, stakeholders who expressed worry about the security situation in the country, called for a total ban on commercial motorcycles (Okada) operators in the metropolis.
In Imo State, Governor Hope Uzodimma, who donated 10 armoured vehicles to the police, charged them to effectively maintain law and order in the state.
At the Blueprint Lecture Series to commemorate its 11th anniversary were Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni, his Kogi counterpart, Yahaya Bello, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare, and the Sarkin Sudan of Kontagora, Alhaji Mohammed Barrau II.
Danbazzau urged security agencies to take the war against terrorism, banditry and kidnapping to criminals, who are building their cells close to Abuja.
“Terrorists are inching closer to the seat of power. So, also the motorcycle bandits whom had almost taken control of the Abuja-Kaduna Road; and to some extent, the Abuja-Lokoja Road, and Kaduna-Birnin Gwari Road.
“These roads or highways must be constantly dominated by security activities, and the terrorists and/or bandits must be pursued with adequate firepower aimed at eliminating them.
“It is clear that the violent activities of these groups are designed to make citizens uncomfortable, in addition to embarrassing and discrediting the government.
“To elicit emotions, raise tension, and influence public opinion against the government, the terrorists would normally post video of their helpless victims and/or activities.
“They extort money as ransom from family members of their victims, and sometimes they even murder their victims after payment.
“They make deliberate efforts to put the government on panic mode, leading to closure of schools, businesses, and other public activities.
“This situation will encourage their audacity. From now on, we should take fight to wherever they are, put pressure on them and make them very uncomfortable, where the opportunity avails itself, eliminate them.
“We must live our normal lives, and not allow some violent gangs to make us live miserable lives, full of uncertainties.
“As we are preparing for the 2023 elections, we are also thinking about the possibility of attacks or disruptions of the election processes by these violent groups.”
He added: “The security threats against the 2023 politics are not limited to the activities of the terror groups in the North, but also the proscribed IPOB in the southeast, which has not only been terrorizing the people of the region, especially while enforcing their illegal sit-at-home orders, but also killing and destroying properties of northerners seeking livelihood in the region.”
The former COAS, who made recommendations to address the security challenges, said the welfare of military personnel is paramount, regretting that the Police and the military are currently being overstretched right now.
He also advised the military to put their differences aside and work together as a team in tackling the security challenges.
Danbazzau said: “The reforms of the security sector in line with the current and future security challenges are inevitable, and there are no options other than to carry them out.
“The sooner we commence the process, the better. I believe that this should be the very first item on the agenda of the government coming in May 2023.
“Aside the issues or factors earlier mentioned, the reasons why these reforms are necessary are that firstly, there appears to be no synergy among the security agencies in terms of cooperation, coordination, and collaboration while carrying out their activities, rather they operate in silos with no role convergence; they hoard information; and are reluctant to share intelligence, as if they are in competition.
“Secondly, there is poor security governance, making accountability and transparency almost impossible; and thirdly, there is duplication of efforts, leading to wastages of resources.”
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Dambazau urged Nigerians not to focus on ethnicity and religion in making their choices in 2023 general elections.
He said with over 60,000 abandoned projects in Nigeria, which is estimated to cost about N12 trillion, Nigerians should be more interested in poverty reduction; food security; youth unemployment; improved power sector and others..
He defended the choice of ex-Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State as the running mate to the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
He said Shettima was a product of merit and not religious factor.
He listed factors that could influence 2023 politics, including zoning, restructuring debate, ethnicity, religion, widespread insecurity and socio-economic challenges.
Dambazau delivered a paper in Abuja at the Annual Public Lectures and Impact Series/ Awards of the Blueprint Newspapers Limited.
He expressed concerns that 2023 politics has started with the mundane issues, which have led to insecurity and instability.
He said: “It is apparent that we have started 2023 politics with the mundane issues that brought us to the level of insecurity and instability we are today.
“We have more than enough challenges or issues confronting us. Rather than directing our energy on religious or ethnic controversies, we should be more interested in such issues as poverty reduction; food security; youth unemployment; improved power sector; quality and affordable healthcare services; and improved education system.
Dambazau however, defended the choice of ex-Governor Kashim Shettima as the running mate to the Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
He added: “If it(religion) were, he could have picked from the Northwest, where about 90 per cent of the population is Muslim.
“When strategising for winning elections, all factors are put on the table for consideration. Tinubu’s choice of Kashim Shettima could not be by chance. Kashim Shettima had in the past demonstrated leadership as a two-term Governor of Borno state under the stress of insurgency, violent extremism, and terrorism.”
“We are also aware that Borno state is one of the northern states that have been hard hit by the impact of Climate Change, resulting in land degradation. With the insecurity challenge in Nigeria, including climate-related conflicts, the choice of Kashim Shettima to leverage on his crisis management experience was apt.
“At the level of personal relationship, it is an open secret that Shettima had shown loyalty and support for the presidential aspiration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu. “While it is not expected that everyone agrees with such strategic decisions, no one can also deny the candidate his right to make his choice, of course, after due consultations with party stakeholders, and this is applicable to all our fifteen or so candidates.”
Dambazau listed issues that may shape 2023 politics, especially the presidential race by 15 candidates.
He said: “So, what are the likely issues or factors that could influence the 2023 politics? Firstly, the politics of zoning the presidency between North and South, that re-emerged when the Southern and Middle Belt Leadership Forum insisted that for the 2023 presidential elections, the parties must produce candidates from the South, to which the Northern Elders Forum opposed.
“As a matter of fact, the zoning controversy was further reduced to the level of ethnicity with the agitation of what was termed “Igbo presidency”, meaning that 2023 was the chance of the Igbo ethnic group to produce the next president after Buhari.
“The development of critical infrastructures is also a key area of concern, and although the APC government under Buhari has done remarkably well by completing many of the projects it met in 2015, in addition to new ones it originated, there are however approximately 60,000 abandoned projects in Nigeria, estimated to cost about N12 trillion. And what can we do to mitigate such waste? These are only a few critical areas the 2023 politics should focus attention on, not religion and ethnicity.”
The ex-minister said tackling insecurity should be on the front burner in 2023.
He said the security problems could affect 2023 poll because “some communities would still be displaced and the terrorists would likely continue attacks on soft targets.”
“While the government records significant success in tackling Boko Haram in the North-East, the Northwest caught the insecurity virus with several incidents of banditry, cattle rustling, and kidnapping for ransom. Banditry is multifaceted with a variety of events and activities, but unlike the Boko Haram insurgency, which is ideologically driven hoping to establish a state, the bandits have not shown such territorial ambition.
“It is a complex combination of violent business entrepreneurship through kidnapping for ransom, cattle rustling by the criminal gangs, and attacks on rural settlements.”
Dambazau said the nation must address its population explosion, especially what he described as the “youth bulge.”
“The UN had projected that by 2050 the population would double to a little over 400million which also means that the young population would also double. The extent to which this human capital is developed, and its well-being adequately taken care of, is of utmost importance. The youth bulge is a matter of serious security concern now and in the future. What are our plans for the youth? This is a relevant question for 2023 politics.
“If we do not have positive plans for them in terms of poverty reduction, accessible and quality education, employment opportunities, skills acquisition, healthcare services, shelter, and other aspects of human development, there are readily available criminal and terror organizations that would easily recruit them for their violent activities.”
Buni said: “The theme “2023 Politics, National Security and Nigeria’s Stability” is very apt in view of the security threats that usually accompany National elections and the already existing security challenges that have bedeviled our nation.
“The success or otherwise of the 2023 elections hugely depends on us the politicians, the political parties, candidates and their supporters, and of course, the political umpire the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“The need for peace to conduct the elections and to have good governance and development cannot be overemphasized. It, therefore, becomes obvious for all of us to make sacrifices and consider national interests above personal interests for a free and peaceful election in 2023.
“As patriots, with the zeal to ensure the unity of Nigeria, there is no election or interest of any single individual that is worth sending Nigeria to war.”
Appeal Court frees Kano singer sentenced to death by Sharia ruling
The Court of Appeal in Kano State, on Wednesday, discharged and acquitted 22-year-old Yahaya Sharif Aminu sentenced to death by a Sharia court over alleged blasphemy.
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Umar, in his ruling said: “Section 38 of 1999 Constitution provides that every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including the freedom to change his religion or belief.
“This is the judgment of the court, the appellant is discharged and acquitted,” Umar declared.
The Sharia Court had sentenced the musician to death by hanging for blasphemy.
The 22-year-old was convicted based on Section 382 (b) of Kano penal code of 2000 after he was accused of committing blasphemy against the Prophet in a song he circulated via WhatsApp in March 2020.
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