THERE are indications that the State of Osun is witnessing cross-boundary criminal activities.
The cross-boundary criminal activities are majorly responsible for the upsurge in kidnapping cases being recorded in the state, findings have revealed.
OSUN DEFENDER noted that majority of the kidnapping cases have been happening at communities that borders Osun and other states.
Findings revealed that the kidnappers might have been making their way into Osun through Kogi, Kwara and Ondo boundaries.
Hostages and collection of ransom by the kidnappers have always been done outside the state.
While the kidnappers have been operating in connivance with their informants who are residents of Osun, findings have revealed that they retreat to their various states immediately after carrying out their kidnapping operations.
According to security sources, the boundary forests between Osun and Ondo, Kwara and Ekiti States have been compromised.
This is just as the police, Amotekun and Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) confirmed that some of the kidnappers are from outside the state.
Our Forests Might Have Been Infiltrated – Amotekun Board Chair
Reviewing the kidnapping trend, the Chairman, Board of the Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Amotekun in the State of Osun, Brig. Gen. Bashiru Adewinbi (rtd.) said he could not rule out the fact that some forests in Osun have been infiltrated by criminal elements.
According to Adewinbi, there is intelligence report that some criminal elements who were dislodged in Ondo state might have infiltrated some forests in Osun.
Adewinbi who spoke with OSUN DEFENDER yesterday, stated that Amotekun corps have always been on the alert in safeguarding residents of the state, saying that is why it was possible to rescue the Fulani who was abducted by kidnappers in Ila recently.
He said: “We are handling the kidnapping matter. From available information, it is not unlikely that our forests have been infiltrated by these criminal elements. It will not be out of place to state that the kidnappers are from other states.
“From the intelligence gathered, some of the criminal elements who were dislodged in Ondo by the Nigerian Army, Police and Amotekun, have found their ways into our forests. Our boundaries with Kwara, Ondo and Ekiti needed to be properly fortified and we are working on that.
“We are re-strategising to kickout these criminal elements. We have increased our patrol and deployed officers to mount the border between Kwara and Osun. Through this, we have been able to free some victims of kidnapping. We will flush out these criminal elements totally.
“We will checkmate them at the borders; these criminals come through the borders.”
Naira Circulation Responsible For Upsurge – OPC
Acknowledging that the kidnappers have infiltrated some forests in Osun, the new Coordinator of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) in the State, Mr. Yemi Aboderin, said the reintroduction of old naira notes is also responsible for the spate of kidnapping cases in the state.
Aboderin noted that kidnapping and other crimes had subsided when there was scarcity of cash, saying the criminal elements came alive when the Federal Government reintroduced old naira notes into circulation.
He said: “Resurgence in cases of kidnapping in the state could be traced to current economic reality. The new naira policy introduced by the outgoing regime of President Muhammadu Buhari affected many people, most especially, the lower class negatively and few of those who cannot cope with finding ways out of its effect seems to see kidnapping as lucrative mean of getting the needed financial backbone to weather the storm.
“You will realise that when the old naira notes were withdrawn from circulation and scarcity of the new notes permeated the society, incidence of kidnapping reduced drastically in the country.
“But with the re-introduction of the old notes into circulation, the kidnappers now feel that there are more cash in circulation and people could afford to pay for ransom.
“Since cases of kidnapping have gone down in the last few months, security operatives have let down their guards, leaving the kidnappers to have a free hand to operate.”
“Lack of basic modern security gadgets by security operatives to tackle kidnapping could also be adduced to rising cases.”
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Aboderin said OPC will continue to collaborate with conventional security agencies to tackle the menace in the state, saying they will continue to comb forests on intelligence gathering and rescue operations.
“We have put our men on the alert and to be on the lookout for any related cases of Cross Boundary Criminal activities and inform necessary quarters. They have been briefed on the need to assist with community security watch to stem the tide”, he said.
The OPC Coordinator said he could not rule out the fact that some criminal elements have infiltrated Osun forests through Ekiti and Kwara states to perpetrate crime in the state.
“We cannot rule out the fact that they have accomplices in the state who feed them on the targets to act on. But, people in the state in search of quick money now engage in such crime as well.
“Our borders everywhere are porous. There is no proper and workable means to checkmate and document movements in and out of this country.”
We’ll Fortify Our Boundaries – Police
According to the State of Osun police command, majority of the suspected kidnappers who have been arrested are residents of neighbouring states.
Spokesperson of the command, Mrs Yemisi Opalola, in an interview with OSUN DEFENDER yesterday, stated that Osun could be witnessing ‘cross-boundary’ criminal activities.
Opalola said the police have put strategy in place to fortify the boundaries between Osun and other states, adding that the police is also collaborating with local security operatives to ensure that criminal elements are flush out of the state forests.
The PPRO maintained that Osun is not a safe haven for criminals, saying that those behind the recent kidnappings are possibly operating from outside the states.
She said: “There are few pockets of kidnapping cases but I still want to tell you that we have been able to address all the kidnapping cases or abduction.
“We have been able to rescue some victims and some of the suspected kidnappers have been arrested; some arraigned in court, while some are still under investigations.
“Osun is not a safe haven for criminals; that why whenever some criminals commit crimes in other states and run to Osun, they will be arrested.
“There are possibilities and indications that the people behind these kidnapping cases are not from this state. The suspects that we have been able to lay our hands on are people who came from the neighbouring states.
“We are working on our boundaries to ensure that they are safe; we will not allow these evil doers to infiltrate our state. The police are also collaborating with local security to ensure that our forests are safe. We have also put in place some security measures to ensure the safety of our people. Our priority has always been to ensure that the people of the state are secured and safe.
“The police in Osun promised the citizens that we will not rest until the criminals are rooted out of this command. We will not allow this command to be a resting place for them. It will not be a place where they can hibernate to carry out their nefarious activities.”
Opalola enjoined the people of the state to always alert the police whenever they observe any suspicious movement of strangers in their various communities.