Traditional rulers and menace of kidnappers
Traditional rulers appear to be new targets of attacks in parts of the country, including the recent kidnapping of two monarchs.
The kidnap of a Lagos monarch, Oba Goriola Oseni, the Oniba of Iba town, who was abducted by gunmen on July 16 and released after three weeks, is one notable attack. The monarch’s wife was shot and a palace guard, killed during the incident.
12 days before Oseni’s abduction, Oba Abiodun Oyewumi, the Laragunsin of Ode-Iyansan in Irele Local Government Area of Ondo State, was also kidnapped. He was kidnapped in his palace on Monday July 4, 2016, around 10:30pm by heavily armed hoodlums, and taken away through the waterways.
Oyewumi, is the second monarch to be kidnapped in the state after the Regent of Akungba-Akoko, Princess Oluwatoyin Omosowon was kidnapped last year June.
But while Oseni and Oyewumi, were kidnapped and released after payment of ransoms, the paramount ruler of the Kulere in Bokkos local government area of Plateau State, Saf Ron Kulere, was not so lucky.
He was killed last month, by yet-to-be identified gunmen, on his way from his farm in Sha District of the area. Also killed along with the monarch were his orderly, Sunday Wuyah-an inspector, his wife, and his son, Shagari.
In November 2015, the traditional ruler of Nkerefi in Nkanu East local government of Enugu State, His Highness, Igwe Peter Onuoha and three members of the community were murdered by gunmen.
It was gathered however, that the royal father and some youths in the community had a disagreement over a suspicious spiritual sacrifice he made in the community in 2014.
On May 20, 2015, the traditional ruler of Elete town in Kogi State, Chief Aminu Aku, was kidnapped by men of the underworld.
On September 4, 2015, the paramount ruler of Gbarantoru community in Yenagoa council area of Bayelsa State, Benjamin Weke was kidnapped under similar condition, while barely two weeks earlier, two traditional rulers from Okpoama community in Brass local government area of the state, Blessing Wagio and Isaac Akono-Igolo were abducted through the waterways.
The Guardian checks, have shown that majority of the affected monarchs, were those whose communities and towns are situated in the riverine areas; the kidnappers escaping through the water.
But the common question asked is why would monarchs be kidnapped?
While recounting his seven days in kidnapper’s den, the Ondo monarch, Oyewumi, rescued at Gbelegun Village, a riverine community in Edo State, linked the development to security problem in his country.
The traditional ruler of Orogbe-Osaye, Ifo Local Government, Chief Segun Sopeju, told The Guardian that abduction of monarchs is common place because of involvement of monarchs in land disputes within their communities, as well as their involvement in shady deals, that force those who feel cheated to embrace extra-judicial efforts for payback.
He added that in most cases, abductions are carried out in connivance with their subjects or people working in the palace, who serve as insiders to sell the monarchs.
Speaking on how to prevent further attacks, Oba Oyewumi, appealed for more security around palaces across the country. He said though police had been deployed to his community since the incident happened, he claimed they are always posted from Akotogbo town, which is about 30 minutes away from Ode-Iyansan and a barrier to effective policing.
On his part, Sopeju said to nip the act in the bud, a law must be passed against kidnapping, which must be fully enforced. He also advocated for regular enlightenment programmes for people living in communities; provision of adequate security; and provision of job opportunities for youths, to dissuade them from joining bad gangs.
The National Assembly member representing Okitipupa/Irele Federal Constituency, Mr. Mike Omogbehin, tasked government at all levels to prioritise the security and welfare of traditional rulers, urging the Federal Government to heed the incessant call for restructuring, which he said would give room for community policing, to foster greater security in the nation.