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Afenifere raises the alarm over kidnapping, burning of INEC offices in S’West

By Kehinde Olatunji (Lagos), Rotimi Agboluaje (Ibadan) and Nnamdi Akpa (Abakaliki)
15 November 2022   |   4:15 am
The pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, has expressed concern over kidnappings in the Southwest, especially along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in recent times.

Chief Ayo Adebanjo of Afenifere

• Challenges Southwest govs to be more decisive in tackling menace
• IPOB, ESN not responsible for insecurity in Southeast, says Powerful
• MBF: Military has all intelligence to arrest wanted terrorists

The pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, has expressed concern over kidnappings in the Southwest, especially along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in recent times.

In a statement issued by the body’s national publicity secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, yesterday, the body stated that the frequency and ferocity of kidnapping in the area lately is generating concern regarding the territorial expansion of terrorists and bandits.

Afenifere recalled the kidnap cases near Dominion University and Sagamu Interchange on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in the past weeks. Recall that on October 27, 2022, suspected Fulani bandits attacked travellers, abducting five persons and killing others. One of the abducted victims, former Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Adigun Agbaje, was released after payment of ransom running into millions of naira.

Two days after, on October 29, seven bandits in Irele Ekiti-Oke Ako Highway, Ajoni Council of Ekiti State abducted four travellers. Last Tuesday, November 8, gunmen dressed in military uniform again attacked commuters travelling on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. The gunmen stormed the road near Sagamu Interchange and shot at commuters in an 18-passenger inter-state bus.

Afenifere also lamented the burning of offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abeokuta, Ogun State, and Ede, Osun State, last Thursday.

The statement reads: “Unauthorised burning of any property is condemnable by all standards. The fact that this type of arson reared its head in the Southwest is unacceptable. It should be thoroughly investigated and made to be the last of such occurrence. There should be no excuse whatsoever to put the 2023 general elections in jeopardy,” Ajayi said.

Besides gunmen’s invasion of a Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State, in June this year, Ajayi also cited various kidnap incidents on a farm near Ipapo and on Okaka-Otu Road both in Oke Ogun, as well as the ones that took place in Ibarapa area of Oyo State.

He added that efforts should quickly be made to ensure that the situation in the region does not degenerate into what is presently obtainable in certain parts of the North. He urged that efforts be made to put an end to the ones happening in the North and elsewhere as well.

“It would be recalled that the situation has become so dire that marauders do even invade houses to pick victims. For instance, last week Monday, a Catholic priest, Father Kunat and eight others were abducted in separate attacks in Idon, Kajuru Local Government Area and in Oil Village, a suburb of Kaduna metropolis, located near the Kaduna refinery.

“Afenifere, hereby, implores the Southwest sub-national governments to turn Amotekun into a strong regional outfit to protect the region. The governors should collectively approach President Muhammadu Buhari along with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to let them save our people from being enslaved by bandits. Drones and relevant security equipment must be purchased and deplored to quickly snuff life out of the monster that is threatening to consume us.

“Everything must be done to ensure that normalcy returns and that Nigeria does not become another region where terrorists hold sway. Southwest governors should do more,” Ajayi stated.

SPOKESPERSON of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Comrade Emma Powerful, yesterday insisted that the security challenges ravaging Southeast are not caused by IPOB and Eastern Security Network (ESN), but the bodies have rather helped to curb the spread of state-sponsored armed militias in the region.

In a statement issued in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, Powerful noted that the aim of forming ESN was to safeguard the region from Fulani terrorists masquerading as herdsmen in the bushes and forests, adding that in the effort to blackmail IPOB, some politicians are sponsoring criminal armed groups in the Southeast to create insecurity so as to blame IPOB and ESN.

He said: “We, the global movement and family of IPOB, under the command and leadership of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, wish to reiterate that IPOB and ESN operatives are not responsible for the insecurity ravaging the Eastern region.

“Biafrans must maintain the peaceful agitation because the international community has refused the proscription of IPOB as a violent or terrorist organisation.

“Till date, Nigerian government is still hunting and supplying fake information to the international community to justify their terrorist tag on IPOB. All efforts to tarnish the image of our movement has turned against them and we are still gaining higher grounds in our Independence movement.

“We advise patriotic Biafrans to stay on the strategy that IPOB has set for us. What will make the international community to change their minds against us is when they find that we are responsible for the criminalities going on. Then we have scuttled our chances of getting Biafra’s independence. Therefore, we must expose all criminals and wash our hands from all evils,” the statement noted.

MEANWHILE, National President of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Dr. Bitrus Pogu, has said the military has all the intelligence to apprehend masterminds of terrorism in the country.

Pogu, while reacting yesterday in Makurdi, Benue State, to the list of 19 most wanted terrorist kingpins/commanders released by the military high command and the bounty of N5 million for the arrest of each of the terrorists, said: “The military has higher intelligence than you and I. The Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) and lots of their other security organisations have a lot of intelligence than all of us.

“Now, if they feel that this wanted terrorists are not easy to hunt and they need public assistance, so be it. Nobody will say no if something will add value to our situation.

“But the truth remains that I believe these people know where they are. All these while when Nigerians are lamenting and crying, I believe our military have adequate intel to track these people. To me, it is more of a diversion than what it really should be.

“So, let the military put its acts together and let’s make progress. We know that our military is capable of crushing the menace from wherever it is so we can have peace in the country. May God help us.”

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