- Police Set Up Prompt Response Unit
By Ismaeel Uthman
MINING activities in some parts of Ijesaland might be responsible for the incessant kidnapping activities in the State of Osun.
Security experts, in different interviews with OSUN DEFENDER, expressed strong conviction that influx of miners into the Ijesa axis of the state is posing serious threat to the safety of individuals residing in the area.
According to the experts, the combination of some criminal minded Yorubas with the Northerners who are coming into the state in mass on the pretence of mining activities is responsible for the spate of kidnapping in the state.
Four different incidents of kidnapping have been reported between December 25, 2020 and February 8, 2021 in two different areas of the state.
Also, the Deputy Registrar of the Federal University of Technology (FUTA), Akure, Ondo State, Dr. Amos Arijesuyo, was attacked by gunmen suspected to be kidnappers operating on the Ilesa-Akure expressway on January 16, 2021.
Arijesuyo did not survive the attack, as he died the following day.
Speaking with OSUN DEFENDER on the increase in rate of kidnapping yesterday, the Commander-General, Harmonized Vigilante Group in the State of Osun, Alhaji Ridwan Hussein, popularly known as Yah Salam said the mining activities taking place in Ijesaland is attracting criminals into the state.
According to Hussein, the increasing rate of kidnapping was as a result of strong conspiracy of ‘criminal-minded Yorubas’, foreign Fulani herdsmen and some Northerners who are coming into the state for mining.
He, however, clarified that the Fulanis who had been living in Yorubaland for long were not responsible for the nefarious activities, saying that the ‘criminal Fulanis’ were those who came into Osun and other parts of Yorubaland from Niger, Chad and other neighbouring countries.
The security expert said: “I had told the governor during a security summit in Ilesa, that where we are experiencing these kidnappings are close to where mining activities are taking place. And we have three layers of kidnappers.
“The Fulani herders are one, the second people are those miners who left Zamfara gold forest to Osun. Our fathers and other people are also engaging the Northerners for mining. I have discovered that we are the one creating problems for ourselves.
“If they kidnap somebody and hold him or her hostage in a bush, are farming activities not taking place in that area? Who are the people buying food for the kidnappers and their victims in the bush? The kidnappers also sell body parts of any of their victims that are killed. Who are the people coming into the forests to buy the parts? We have much to do.
“People are also complaining about the Fulanis that have been living with us for long. I see that as a needless vituperation. We are all Nigerians and we know what is happening. We should not start the war that we cannot end. The government should find a way to address the influx of Fulanis from Niger, Chad, Mali and other places.
“Some of the apprehended suspected kidnappers were speaking French-intoned Hausa language, not the common Maiduguri Hausa language. It is not the Fulanis who have been living with us for long that are waging war against us. We know where the war is coming from.
“Those people who engage in illegal mining activities are responsible for the kidnappings. Those terrorizing us are not from this place. Unfortunately, our people are conspiring with them. If we say we want to declare total war on the Fulanis, what would happen to our people conniving with them?
“I have taken the pain to hold meetings with the monarchs in border communities in Osun, warning them against accommodating people from the North for now. We have to be cautioned.
“The government also needs to regulate the social media. People are using social media to misinform the general public and cause panic.”
In his analysis, the Chairman of the Gani Adam faction of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) in the state, Mr. Deji Aladesawe said it is an established fact that some Yorubas were conniving with ‘criminal Fulanis’ for the kidnapping business.
According to Aladesawe, some Yorubas have been serving as informants to the kidnappers, disclosing that some of them were arrested in recent operations.
However, Aladesawe lamented what he described as negligence of the OPC members by Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, claiming that the governor has not been encouraging and supporting them financially.
He said OPC has always been involved in rescuing kidnapping victims in many parts of the state, maintaining that its members have been working for the security of the state and would continue rendering the services.
The OPC chairman called on every resident of the state to be vigilant, saying that the Fulani herdsmen that were chased out of Ondo State forests might be making their ways into Osun.
“There is no doubt that those herdsmen sent out of Ondo, Ekiti and Oyo states would have made way into Osun. Our governor should be meticulous about the issue of security. He should not discriminate against the security groups. Security is different from politics. You cannot wish any hand away on security”, he said.
Police Set Up Prompt Response Unit
However, the Osun State Police Command has said that it has been responding decisively to kidnapping activities and taking every step to curb criminal acts in every part of the state.
Public Relations Officer of the command, Mrs. Yemisi Opalola, who spoke with OSUN DEFENDER yesterday said the Commissioner of Police, Mr Wale Olokode was disturbed on the spate of kidnapping and has mapped out strategies to get rid of everyone involved in the criminal act.
According to Opalola, Olokode has set up a Prompt Response Unit (PRU) for the singular purpose of putting an end to kidnapping activities in the state.
Opalola said the PRU has been patrolling all the black spots in the kidnap-prone areas to drive away kidnappers and other kinds of bandits.
She said: “The Commissioner of Police, Mr. Wale Olokode, is disturbed on the kidnapping activities. Because of that, he has set up Prompt Response Unit against kidnapping activities. The PRU is basically to drive away kidnappers in the state. The unit is made of well-trained professional policemen.
“But we need support from the members of the public, in terms of information dissemination. Since police are not spirit, we can’t know what is happening everywhere. We should all embrace community policing.
“Thank God for the support from the State Government. For effective patrol; we need vehicles and other logistics because the covering area is large and we cannot take any chances. The Governor has promised to support us on that.
“The Commissioner himself has been very active in waging war against kidnappers and securing the release of their victims. He has been going into the bushes and forests with his men to free kidnapped victims.
“The Commissioner has also been holding meetings with the farmers and Fulani herders in the state for peaceful resolution, in which they both agreed to embrace peace.”