When Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State narrated how suspected kidnappers attacked his convoy on the Akure-Ibadan Expressway recently, it raised concerns of security in the region.
The attack has, however, confirmed the fears that the South- West is under siege of marauding herdsmen, who have taken kidnapping as a lucrative business.
Unfortunately, the herdsmen have continued to operate without fear in the region, leaving security operatives helpless in nipping their activities in the bud.
Several kidnappings have been recorded on the Akure-Ibadan Expressway despite the heavy presence of security personnel on the highway.
Recently, two officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, were abducted as well as Musibau Adetunmbi, an Ibadan-based lawyer. Also, Adeyinka Adegbehingbe, a professor of Orthopaedic surgery at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, suffered a similar fate.
The Iresi of Osi, in Akure North Council Area of Ondo State, Oba David Olajide reportedly escaped being kidnapped by six gunmen.
Ironically, Oba Olajide was attacked by the kidnappers on his way from the Police Command in Akure, where his subjects, a mother and her stepson, ran to after escaping from the kidnappers’ den.
Also, the countless reported cases of kidnapping and attack in the region have sent fears down the spines of travellers, who intend to ply the highways in the South- West.
The latest attack on Governor Akeredolu, who incidentally is the chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum, has renewed the call for the proposed security summit.
The security summit, if convened, would address growing insecurity in the region.
As far back as July 2018, the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams had written to the governors, asking for such a summit to be convened.
Afenifere had also made such repeated calls for such a summit to hold and so have the other groups at various times given voice to such an all-important summit, expanded to include all the stakeholders in the South-West, to be so summoned.
In spite of the calls, the governors turned deaf ears to the call.
Perhaps, in response to the increasing cases of kidnapping and robbery by bandits and marauding herdsmen in the zone, the governors from the region announced plans to hold a regional security meeting to address growing insecurity in the region.
Also, toeing the line of the governors, traditional rulers from the region have vowed to defend their people and flush the marauders out of the region.
Akeredolu’s narrow escape
With Governor Akeredolu’s narrow escape from kidnappers, the call for a security summit to address the rate of insecurity is imperative.
Though the Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE; the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere; the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Gani Adams and elder statesman, Pa Ayo Adebanjo expressed worry over the development, they have called for a drastic action to be taken.
Akeredolu, who did not mention the exact date of the incident, said the suspects ran into the bush when his security detail opened fire.
The Ondo governor, on a live television programme, had said he and his colleagues were working towards ending the “siege to the South-West.”
But Aare Adams declared that “the situation has gone beyond control. There is an urgent need to hold this security summit.”
According to Akeredolu: “I have encountered them (kidnappers) before, so security issue is not limited to the masses alone.
“My convoy was targeted but my security people shot into the air to scare them away. They fled into the bush on Akure-Ibadan road.
“We, as governors, will do something about the issue. We are discussing with the Federal Government. It is real that travellers are not safe on the road.
“It looks like it’s only the masses that are affected as the big men are enjoying themselves as they drive in convoy. Is that so?”
Asked if he is afraid of being kidnapped, the governor said: “Nobody can kidnap me, I have passed that stage.”
Attack on Akeredolu, scary—YCE
While reacting to the attack on Akeredolu’s convoy, Secretary of the YCE, Dr. Kunle Olajide described the development as scary.
Olajide said: “The attack signals a terrible security situation, if a governor’s convoy that was heralded and piloted by security operatives could be attacked, then we are helpless.”
Also, describing the attack as unfortunate, Afenifere said: “There is a need to address the situation.”
Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin said: “It is unfortunate that a governor is being targeted by kidnappers in the South-West region.”
It’s time to hold security summit —Aare Adams
Also expressing worry over the attack, the Aare Onakankafo of Yorubaland, Aare Gani Adams said there was an urgent need to hold the proposed security summit.
Aare Adams said: “If a governor’s convoy can be attacked, who else is spared?”
On the need to convene the security summit, he said: “I do not want to jump the gun. I don’t want to take any action without the support of the governors or traditional rulers in the South- West.”
Perhaps painting a gloomy picture of the situation, Adams declared that “the situation has gone beyond control. There is an urgent need to hold this security summit.”
While not wanting to be taken unawares, the Yoruba Summit Group, said it is time to put an end to activities of marauding herdsmen who have been terrorising the region.
While it warned that it will no longer condone kidnapping and banditry perpetuated by herdsmen in the South-West, the summit, through its Publicity Secretary, Mogaji Gboyega Adejumo said: “What the people of the South- West will not do in Fulani land, no Fulani should attempt on our land.”
With the resolve of the governors to address the worrying insecurity in the region, it is hoped that they would put aside politics and tackle the monster threatening the South-West.