KIDNAPPING and political violence are rearing their ugly head again in the State of Osun.
The spate of kidnapping, particularly in Osogbo and Iwo areas has been frightening residents of the state who raised concern over their safety.
OSUN DEFENDER noted that four cases of kidnapping have been recorded in the state so far.
Two of the kidnapping cases were recorded in Osogbo while the other two were recorded in Iwo axis of the state.
It would be recalled that on January 14, 2023, a housewife simply identified as Gbemisola was abducted by some persons in Osogbo, according to Osun Security Networks, codenamed Amotekun.
A statement by the Command’s spokesperson, Idowu Yusuf, said the victim was kidnapped in her residence at Technical College Area.
Gbemisola has not been found as of the time of filing this report.
On Wednesday, January 11, two farmers, Samuel Oladotun and Tobilola Fashola, were kidnapped at Okeosun area of Ileogbo, Ayedire Local Government of the State of Osun.
Oladotun and Fashola were released after six days in captivity with N10m ransom.
Three of their relatives who had gone to pay ransom in Kogi were also abducted before they were released the third day.
On Friday, January 20, three farmers were also kidnapped by gunmen on their farmland located in Ologun area of Iwo, Iwo Local Government.
The farmers are: Hamzat Ibrahim, Deere Ibrahim and a 38-year-old man, whose name was yet to be identified.
The kidnappers were said to have demanded N5m for their release.
One of the victims had reportedly escaped from captivity while the two others were still with the kidnappers.
A member of Union Baptist Church, Odi-Olowo Osogbo, Mrs. Olayinka Tosin Kayode and her child were kidnapped by unknown gunmen around 6PM on Tuesday, January 24, around Otaefun/Kobongbogboe, Osogbo while returning home from her shop.
However, the victims were released yesterday.
OSUN DEFENDER noted that this is the first-time kidnapping incidence would be occurring in Osogbo.
The Ijesa axis of the state was notorious for kidnapping cases in recent past.
Police, OPC React, Reassure Residents Of Safety
Reacting to the spate of kidnapping in the state, the police said it is re-strategising to secure the state and cleanse it off criminal activities.
Police Public Relations Officer, Osun Command, Mrs. Yemisi Opalola, allayed the fear of the people, saying that the police will fortify the state and ensure that all criminal elements are arrested or chased away from the state.
She said: “The police are re-strategising and I can assure you that all the people involved in these criminal activities will be arrested and prosecuted. We are on our toes, we are not resting and we cannot until Osun is safe and secure for the residents.
“I want to assure the people of the state that their safety is guaranteed. We are on top of the situation.”
Speaking with OSUN DEFENDER in an interview, the Chairman of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Fedrick Fasehun’s faction, Alh. Adeleke Akintayo, noted that the kidnappers are nonresidents of the state.
According to Akintayo, the people involved in kidnapping activities could be described as invaders who came into the state to kidnap.
He said: “All hands are on deck. We are working hand-in-hand with the police to curb crime. Some of those behind these kidnappings are not living in Osun. They only come to the state to operate. But we are at alert. The civilian Joint Task Force of OPC, Vigilante, Agbekoya are trying to stop these kidnappers in every corner.
“We just implore the citizens of the state to report suspicious movement to the security agents. We need the support of the people of the state in fighting crimes. The security cannot do it all alone. We need to work together to make the state free from any form of banditry.”
In his reaction, the Coordinator of Gani Adams led faction of the OPC in the state, Chief Deji Aladesawe, urged the government and police to empower local security groups in the fight against crimes.
Aladesawe stated that only collaborative effort can make the state secure and peaceful, adding that the OPC is reading to support the government and police on that.
He said: “The government and police need to empower local security groups. We also need their supports. I cannot mobilise my men to any scene of kidnapping without the consent of the Commissioner of Police and the Governor of the state. There should be synergy among the conventional and local security agencies.”
Cases of Political Violence
Besides, OSUN DEFENDER noted that political violence such as attacks on political opponents and destruction of campaign billboards have become a nightmare for politicians in the state.
Members of Labour Party and the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ijesaland have constantly been reporting attacks on them and their campaign billboards in the area by political thugs.
This is just as the Osun West Senatorial candidate of the APC, Dr. Amidu Tadese and his supporters were reportedly attacked on Tuesday at Ward 9, Ikire, Irewole local government area of the state.
Some of the campaign vehicles of Tadese were vandalized by the political hoodlums allegedly working for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Ikire is the hometown of PDP candidate in the senatorial district, Akogun Lere Oyewumi.
But Oyewumi distanced the PDP from the attack on Tadese and his supporters, alleging that it was the APC members that launched attack on members of his party while returning from campaign.
Oyewumi said a member of the PDP in Ikire was killed when the APC allegedly attacked his supporters.
In Osogbo, majority of the campaign billboards of Senator Ajibola Basiru, the Osun Central Senatorial candidate of the APC, have been destroyed.
Also, some of the campaign billboards of the PDP candidate in Osun Central Senatorial District, Mr Olubiyi Fadeyi, have also been vandalized.
The House of Representatives candidate of the Labour Party in Ijesa South Federal Constituency, Mr. Gideon Aloba, said no fewer than seven of his campaign billboards have been destroyed.
Aloba accused supporters of the PDP of destroying his campaign billboards.
According to Aloba, the PDP has been sponsoring a coordinated attack on his campaign billboards in Ilesa East, Atakunmosa East and Atakunmosa West local governments.
Aloba who was bittered about the development, descried the politics of destruction, intimidation and violence allegedly being played by a national assembly candidate of the party in the area.
OSUN DEFENDER also noted that some of the campaign billboards of Hon. Ajibola Famurewa, the Osun East Senatorial candidate of the APC, in Ilesa have also been destroyed.
It would be recalled that the lawmaker representing Ijesa South Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, Hon. Babatunde Ayeni, had two weeks ago raised the alarm over the spate of political violence in Ijesaland.
Ayeni noted that conducting election in the part of the state might be difficult if the trend is not checked.
The lawmaker who called on the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, to wade in on the recent attack on members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ijesaland, said the political violence in the area was becoming worrisome and needed urgent security attention.
CSO Decries Violence, Calls On Politicians To Play By The Rules
A civil society group, the Peoples’ Advocates, has decried spate of political violence in the state, calling on security agencies to live up to expectations and as a matter of duty restore sanity in to the political system.
The group, in a press statement, signed by its Chairman and Secretary, Barr. Bayo Alade and Comr. Jolapamo Bolanle, respectively condemned attacks on persons and facilities and properties of political opponents in the state.
The statement reads in part: “The recent report by an intelligence group (SMB intelligence) that rated Osun as the state with highest political violence case in 2022 is disturbing.
“It is even more alarming going by the trend of political violence cases like disruption of campaign billboards, attack on political offices, among others that have been reported in the state just 15 days into 2023 and few weeks to the February general elections.
“We call on all political actors in the state to play be the rule and excuse violence. We equally charge the security agencies in the state to be up and doing. Osun had been rated as third most peaceful state in Nigeria before, descending from that ladder should be a cause of concern for every stakeholder.”