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EXCLUSIVE: Inside the highly lucrative kidnap-for-ransom business in Osun State (Part II)

In this concluding piece, Newsclickng.com’s Adekunle Oba got the views of critical stakeholders in the security ecosystem who listed what could be the panacea to halt kidnap-for ransom in Osun. Will the appropriate authorities act with dispatch? Only time will tell..

Read Part I here

It was around midnight on Monday, April 19, 2021, gunshot sound rented the air which woke residents from their sleep.

It was bandits shooting sporadically announcing their presence in Koka Community in Obokun Local Government area of Osun State.

Bandits wielding different types of weapons, including AK-47 rifles, invaded the Koka community, to abduct some residents from their sleep.

“People were woken up by the sound of gunshots”, A resident of the community, Kamaru Adebisi disclosed.

“They invaded the community and focused on a building. They could not access the house easily, so they started shooting at the gates. They shot their way into the building.

“While they were shooting, a neighbour went out to check what was happening, and on sighting him, the man was shot at.

“They attempted to kidnap the man and two other residents, but the local hunters made it difficult for them to move out of the community, hence, they dumped their victims and ran into the forest,” Adebisi asserted.

Subsequently, residents mobilised hunters within the community and foiled the kidnapping attempt. While “some villagers and local hunters engaged the bandit in a gun duel and rescued the victims. However, the rescued victims sustained different degrees of gunshot injuries.” a police report on Tuesday, April 20, 2021, stated.

Highly lucrative kidnap-for-ransom business in Osun State

Adewole Azeez, a victim of highway kidnap in Osun State told NewsClickng.com how he wishes he didn’t experienced the dreadful experience that is affecting his mental health presently especially whenever he remembers the incident.

“I don’t want to remember the dreadful experience again. It affects my mental health anytime I remember my 5-day experience in the den of the kidnappers.”

Azeez, a driver and others paid millions of naira before they were released by the kidnappers.

After some successful operations on highways within Obokun, Oriade, kidnapping took a new dimension in Osun while the bandits entered the community to abduct people.

On Monday, February 1, 2021, a police officer attached to three Chinese nationals was killed while the expatriates were also kidnapped.

A security source told Vanguard that the kidnappers demanded N500 Million as ransom.

“There was an altercation between those Chinese and some labourers in the area, and the gunmen used the privilege to carry out their plan.

“We have been trailing them for days now but have not found them. They are demanding N500 million as a ransom but regained their freedom after eight days in the kidnappers’ net.”

On Monday, April 5, 2021, around 4pm, another two Chinese expatriates, Zhao Juan, 33, and one Wen, 50 were also kidnapped at a mining site located in Okepa/Itikan village in Ifewara, Atakunmosa-West Local Government Area of the state.

Locals told NewsClickng.com that the gunmen invaded the site in numbers and engaged local guards in a gun battle for almost an hour before they subdued the guards.

The gunmen also shot two private guards at the gold mining site before abducting the expatriates.

Newsclickng.com reports that despite the state housing the Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) Team at the Nigerian Air Force 209 Quick Response Group (QRG); Commando Village base in Ipetu-Ijesa, with Amotekun security outfit, and formation of the Joint Task Force by the state government to fight all kinds of crime- kidnap-for-ransom seems rife in Osun State.

This medium identifies Obokun and Oriade local government as a kidnappers’ haven due to the large swathes of forest in the two local governments.

Residents, commuters plying Osun roads in fear

After a series of kidnapping attacks in the two Osun communities – residents and commuters are living and plying the roads in fear and trepidation. There seems still no headway for people in the affected communities.

NewsClickng.com observed that people are in fear especially for weekend traveling while farmers also abandon their farms during the weekend in those noted local government areas.

While sampling opinions in Osogbo, the state capital of Osun, Olaide Ajibola told this reporter that he has been postponing a business trip to Ekiti State but have to summon courage one day.

Ajibola’s opinion is same as few other residents of Osun State regarding plying and travelling through towns within Obokun and Atakumosa local governments in accessing Ondo and  Ekiti States and beyond.

Police lack logistics to battle insecurity in Osun

Impeccable sources in Osun Police told Newsclickng.com that the State Police command lack logistics such as vehicles and other crime fighting equipment to combat kidnapping and other violent crimes in the state. The source alleged that the state government is not forthcoming in helping the force with the  required logistics required to fight insecurity in the state.

“Kidnapping, banditry is beyond what we see, this command lacks the required logistics and wherewithal to fight kidnappers, except we want to deceive ourselves or only if we want to be wasting the lives of our police officers. Even in the heart of Osun State which is Osogbo, police hire vehicles to hunt undesirable elements or do patrol.” an impeccable source informed this medium.

We are ready to secure our land with government support 

To corroborate what the police sources alleged, the leader of the Odua People Congress (OPC) in Osun State, Deji Aladesawe told this reporter that there has been practically no support coming from the state government to the group.

The lasting solution for kidnapping in Osun, according to him, is for the government of the state to support the Local securities within the state, the OPC, Local Hunters, vigilantes, and Agbekoya together with the police force.  Just this week the Leaders of Osun hunters alleged being owed over N20 million by the High command of the Amotekun Corps as unpaid allowance of hunters for security services already rendered.

According to the OPC Leader, whenever there is abduction within the state, Security Aides of the State Government and the leadership of the State Police Command will first contact contact him to mobilize his men for support – the request he asserted he always oblige due to his focus to ensure that the Yorubaland is secure.

“The support we need from the government is in terms of mobilization, there is no vehicle, no mobilization allowances for us. We use our own personal money to mobilise our members to kidnap scenes when kidnap incident happens…..that is all we need from the government.

“We have been having meetings consistently  on a monthly basis together with the state Commissioner of Police and all the OCs, OC of SARS, OC of DSS.

We have been in good relationship, as I told you earlier, immediately there is a kidnapping or armed robbery that happened in Osun State, OPC is the first group that is contacted by government and the State Police Command.

The CP will call me and even SA to the Governor on Security, Abiodun Ige, will also call and immediately I will deploy my members to the place of kidnap. I have my members all over the state, I will call all the leaders and they will deploy their members and I will be monitoring them.

“My own advice for the state government is to endeavour to do the needful to continue to enjoy full support of security agencies, local or conventional…..for instance if we are well encouraged all the black spots you mentioned, our men can be stationed there even permanently to secure there….most especially the places you mentioned, that Oriade, Obokun, Wasinmi and Iwaraja.

For instance he alleged that the family of one his group members who was shot and killed by kidnappers during the last abduction in the state, have not gotten any support from the state government. “He volunteered for the security of the people and he died in the line of duty. Up till now, nothing has been done for the family of the deceased by the State government.”

Why kidnap-for-ransom is assuming a successful enterprise in Osun State, as in other parts of Nigeria – Expert

A security expert, Nnamdi Anekwe Chife told this medium that the kidnap ‘business’ will continue to be successful if the police did not strive to arrest and prosecute kidnappers.

He disclosed that the country also lacks security and intelligence strategy to confront the problem. “There has never been a successful arrest and subsequent prosecution of kidnappers. And we seem not to have a security and intelligence strategy to confront the problem.

While speaking on how to battle insecurity and kidnapping, the Security expert advocated for a comprehensive strategy between the security agencies and the communities.

“The problem which seems intractable at the moment, needs a comprehensive strategy between the security agencies and the communities. The security agencies in conjunction with the locals, should create a synergy to combat the menace otherwise there won’t be any end to the issue of kidnapping”

With last week’s report from the National Security Summit set up by the House of Representatives suggesting that as much as a whooping $2.4million may have been paid as ransom to kidnappers in the last nine months aside permanent loss of lives and spilling of blood, all hands has to be on deck to nip kidnapping in the bud for the good of all and sustainability of Nigeria.

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