Akure/Ilesha and Akure/Ondo/Ore roads as dens of armed robbers, kidnappers
This afternoon, Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017, I received a disturbing news item through one of my contacts on the Whatsapp about the deteriorating security conduction on Akure/Ilesha and Akure/Ondo/Ore roads. Years before these two roads were rehabilitated through the joint efforts of the Federal Government and the Ondo State government, the two roads were noted for gridlock and high rate of carnage through auto accidents due to poor condition of the roads.
But now that these roads have improved and become motorable with the absence of failed portions or potholes, the men of the underworld –armed robbers and kidnappers have suddenly turned these roads to their dens. In the report that I got on the social media, I read the account of how the General Manager of a company was almost kidnapped around Erin Ijesha junction on Thursday February 23, this year. Even though escaped, according to this report, he received gunshots with his Prado jeep riddled with bullets. And around the same time-frame, a Senior Bank official with a new generation bank reportedly left Akure for an official trip but was not as lucky as the above mentioned the General Manager, as he died of shock when his driver was shot. The lifeless body of the banker was later found on the third day around the area abandoned by the kidnappers. The driver of the dead banker was reported to still be on the admission at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital.
Still quoting from the same report, the next day- Friday, February 24, two businessmen were also kidnapped on the road around Joseph Ayo Babalola University. And again, on Saturday, February 25, a Veteran Journalist and a former Managing Director of Daily Times –Dr Adinoyi-Ojo Onukaba ran into some deadly armed-robbers around Igbara-Oke Junction of the road. And in an attempt to dodge the armed robbers, he was hit by another vehicle and the man reportedly died on the spot. It was learnt that Dr. Onukaba was returning from Abeokuta where he was a guest at the 80th birthday ceremony of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. In other words, within 72 hours of last month, at least two lives were lost and two notable people were kidnapped on Akure/Ilesha road. And there could have been other cases not reported or unknown to this writer.
As a matter of fact, since last year, that axis of the road stretching to some portions along Ilesha – Ife-Ibadan expressway have been noted for cases of kidnappings and ritual killings. It is now left for the concerned authorities to put surveillance on these roads through a combined team of Military and Police patrols. In this regard, we are not talking of Police and Military checkpoints. Instead, we are making recommendations for armed highway Military and Police patrols that are equipped with high-tech communication gadgets and mounted with CCTV (Close-Circuit Television) cameras. In other words, the patrol teams should be able to receive and respond to distress calls within 2 to 3 minutes.
Besides, these roads should be cleared of bushes and trees that are encroaching on the roads from both sides. The right of way on these roads should be freed of bushes and trees so that the mounted CCTVs on the patrol vans can see a long range of at least 5 km at any Observatory or Surveillance point. And to compliment the efforts of these Military and Police patrol vehicles, CCTVs should be mounted on poles on these highways and be monitored from the Control Rooms from where information and alerts can be sent to these patrol teams. These are issues that the Office of the National Security Adviser in collaboration with the offices of the Chief of Army Staff and the Inspector- General of Police can quickly look into and act as hereby advised.
On the Political side, in order to decongest pressure on these roads, the Federal Government should extend the railway system from Lagos to link Abuja-Federal Capital City with fast moving and air- conditioned trains/coaches just like the recently launched Abuja-Kaduna Railway service.
In addition, the Federal Government should quickly rehabilitate Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa-Suleja road to serve as alternative route to motorists going to certain parts of Osun Oyo, Lagos and Ogun States. In fact that road should be the shortest route-distance for travelers coming from the Southwest to access the Federal Capital city and the Niger State. And we learnt from the grapevine that some sections of these roads -Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa-Suleja have been awarded by the past Federal Administrations while the PDP was in power for 16years. But who are the people that ate the allocated money? That is up to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to unveil the mystery. In the meantime, our Security Agents should please secure our roads and flush out all undesirable elements of our society from turning them into death traps for our travelers especially for those that may be traveling with their personal vehicles.
Olakunle, JP is General Secretary, National Prayer Movement, Abuja.
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