Lagos / Ado-Ekiti – Outrage on Wednesday trailed the abduction of 28 passengers on the Akure-Ado-Ekiti road on Tuesday about 6a.m within the Iju/Itaogbolu axis in Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo State.
Daily Independent learnt from an anonymous source that the assailants took advantage of the bad portion of the road to commit the crime.
Sources also claimed that the passengers were travelling to Onitsha in Anambra State from Ado-Ekiti, capital of Ekiti State, when they were abducted.
However, Festus Omoniyi, Secretary, Nigeria Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Oyemekun branch, Akure/Ado unit, said only 10 persons were kidnapped.
He identified the driver of the vehicle as Felix Akinde, saying they were kidnapped at a spot known as NYSC junction.
“The vehicle involved belongs to our union. It picked passengers in Ado-Ekiti and they were heading to Onitsha but they were attacked by herdsmen around NYSC junction,” he said.
“The incident happened about 6a.m. There were 10 people in the vehicle, including the driver. All of them were taken into the forest. The bus is presently parked at Iju police station. We gathered that policemen could not go into the forest to confront those holding the innocent people.”
Omoniyi said the suspected kidnappers have called the family members of the driver to inform them that they are holding him.
The Ekiti State Police Command Spokesman, DSP Caleb Ikechukwu, told newsmen that he could not comment on the matter since the incident fell within Ondo State. The Ondo State Police Command PRO could not be reached as at the time of filling in this report.
Another source said the gunmen waylaid the bus and ordered the occupants into the bush, including the driver.
According to residents of the area, the passengers were in two vehicles, an 18-seater bus and the other a 9-seater vehicle with their drivers.
A video of the incident posted on Twitter showed residents of the area complaining about the bad state of the road which had made it easier for kidnappers to operate.
“Our cars here are now passing through Ilawe. If anyone is kidnapped among us, who will bail him?
“We wonder what the condition of the families of those kidnapped passengers will be right now,” one of the residents said in the video.
The abduction happened few hours after a security meeting of South-West governors in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, on Tuesday, where they made a strong case for the establishment of state and local government police to complement the efforts of the federal police.
The governors, who were outraged by the incessant cases of kidnapping and other criminal activities in the region, also agreed to rise above party partisanship to set up joint patrol teams to ward off the criminals that had been killing and kidnapping innocent persons, as well as check the activities of killer herdsmen that had made the highways unsafe for travellers.
Speaking to Daily Independent on the abduction of the 28 passengers, pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, said nothing could come out of the security summit by the governors because they attempted to downplay the security challenges in the South West.
Yinka Odumakin, the organisation’s National Publicity Secretary, also advised Yoruba people to look for traditional means of protecting themselves, adding that relying on the Federal Government for adequate protection may prove costly.
Odumakin said: “The governors had a summit in Ibadan yesterday (Tuesday) where they attempted to play down what confronts South-West today. One of the governors that spoke for almost 32 minutes didn’t mention anything on insecurity in Yorubaland.
“And these are the governors that were saying Zamfara is the worst hit and that insecurity is a general problem. Twenty-four hours after the summit, we are seeing this happening.
“When they rose from their meeting, they issued their communiqué.
“There is nothing special about the communiqué and nothing can come out of it. The essence of the summit was not to address the problem but to just pretend that something is being done.
“But clearly, at this point now, the Yoruba people should know now that their fate lies with them.
“Like Afenifere said a week ago, the Yoruba should activate their traditional self-defence system now because, like Theophilus Danjuma said to this country a few weeks back, the people depending on official protection to defend them in this situation now, they will all die one by one.”
Also speaking, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Lagos State chapter, said President Muhammadu Buhari had clearly demonstrated that he was incapable of addressing the security challenges in the country.
Barr. Gani Taofik, the party’s Publicity Secretary, in a chat with our correspondent, said despite the worsening security situation in the country, the president had refused to rejig the security architecture, especially by replacing the service chiefs who were appointed four years ago.
While lambasting Vice president Yemi Osinbajo, a prominent son of the South West, for saying the security situation in the country was exaggerated, the party also admonished South-West residents to take their destinies in their hands by looking for alternative means of protecting themselves.
Taofik said: “There is no doubt about the fact that we are on ground zero on security in this country, especially the South West.
“It is very unfortunate that the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who is also from the South West has decided to play politics on the matter by saying it was being exaggerated.
“Now, what is more unfortunate is that President Buhari has refused to change all the service chiefs even at the height of this banditry, kidnapping, and the rest.”
Similarly, lawyers have bemoaned the parlous state of security in the South-West.
Speaking on the latest incident on the Akure-Ado-Ekiti Road that saw the abduction of 28 travellers on the road, the lawyers told Daily Independent that the situation has assumed the proportion of an emergency that should be matched with the appropriate government response.
According to Adesina Adegbite, a legal practitioner and immediate past Welfare Secretary, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the latest development suggests “there is total breakdown of security in the country” and that “there is serious fire on the mountain.”
He said “that a whopping 28 people could be kidnapped on such a very busy road within the South-West shows that there is total breakdown of security in the country.
“It has always been in the North, especially Kaduna-Abuja highway. Now Ife-Ibadan highway has been in the news in the last weeks, particularly for the spate of kidnapping on that road. We are now talking about the Akure-Ado-Ekiti road.
“It shows there is serious fire on the mountain, and there is absolute need to rejig the security architecture of the country. At the same time there is need for the Federal Government to now declare a state of emergency against the kidnappers.
“This means there should be mounted serious onslaught against any form of criminality whether it is being perpetrated by herdsmen or whatever the identity of the offenders might be.”
“If security has become so paralysed to the extent that 28 people could be kidnapped in one fell swoop in broad daylight, then it is a state of emergency that must be given the appropriate response.”
Speaking in a similar vein, Mr. Olusina Fasugba, also a legal practitioner, lamented that the last four years have seen the worsening of the security situation in the country, urging President Muhammadu Buhari to wake up from slumber.
He said, “I don’t think any right-thinking member of society will come out and say without equivocation that government is in charge and control of security of lives and property in Nigeria, which is the primary constitutional responsibility of government.
“They must at all material time be able to guarantee security of lives and property of the people. And the security of lives and property in this country is at the lowest ebb today.
“You can no longer travel not only on roads within the South-West but in every other part of the country.
“Let me tell you, I have a matter in Osun State tomorrow. But because I was to set off about 4 o’clock I could not leave. So, definitely, I will not be able to make it to the court tomorrow morning.
“In those days by 7pm or 8pm I will hit the road and before 11pm I will be there. But that was four, five years ago. I cannot take that risk today.
“Buhari should wake up from slumber and tackle these security lapses headlong. Call all the security chiefs, the service chiefs, DSS, the police and all other relevant security agencies, particularly the police.”
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