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Reining in kidnappers in Ondo

By Jimoh Ahmed

The long hands of the law early on Wednesday in the ancient town of Owo caught up with four persons suspected to be kidnappers.

The suspects who were believed to be of Hausa/Fulani extraction were arrested by the newly set up Ondo State Joint Security Operatives following a tip off.

The suspects whose names could not be ascertained as at press time were in possession of sophisticated guns, daggers and charms.

Efforts by The Hope to seek audience with the suspects proved abortive as the Joint Security outfit politely prevented reporters, saying its mandate forbids press interview with suspects especially if they are yet to be handed over to the appropriate authority.

In a telephone interview with the Ondo State Police/ Public Relations Officer, Mr Femi Joseph said, though he was aware of the arrest but could not give details until he was comprehensively briefed.

That kidnapping has become a thriving business or the fastest money making venture for those who chose to travel that terrain is not the issue of this discourse, but what called for attention is the upsurge of kidnappings in the Sunshine State and to a large extent, Akoko part of the Ondo North District.

The statement, one week, one trouble was akin to the area and to be precise, it was one week, one kidnap case.

How would one describe the incessant kidnapping news coming from Akoko which almost became a daily affair. It will not be over flogged if one says Akoko was the den of kidnappers.

To the people of Akoko, the fear of kidnappers is the beginning of wisdom. To be candid, as the day breaks, any resident of Akoko became unsettled and going into the night was a time to fear as no one knows who would be the next victim of the abductors.

As people would always say, fear is the word, in Akoko the fear of the unknown as relates to abduction stories was the king.

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Kidnap stories in the area have no respect for the high places as all the strata of the community have been ravaged by the rampaging dare devil men of the underworld.

From school children to civil servants, men and women, clerics and even the royal stools have one tale or the other to tell.

The kidnappers in their dastardly act have no respect for the traditional stool as even monarchs Queens and their households have not been spared in their devilish business.

The trend with which kidnapping have been taking place in Akoko is tempting so much that one would ask, why Akoko of all places?

The stories of kidnapping in Akoko dangles a long list to Nigerians as they happen almost on weekly basis.

How could one easily forget Mr Victor Olabimtan, a former speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly who was a victim in the den of abductors.

Olabimtan like other kidnap victims is the only one who could tell his own story. Like the popular saying, it is only the person who wears the shoe know where it pinches.

It is a big revelation that the Owo/Ikare road was  a hangout for men of the underworld, especially kidnappers of recent.

However it must be emphasized that the Ago Ajayi section, a farm settlement near Oba, either because of the deplorable condition of the road or best reasons known to the kidnappers recorded the highest number of armed robbery and kidnap cases.

All other parts of Akoko have continued to witness kidnap cases. Towns like Iboropa, Use, Akunnu, Ikaram , Okeagbe, Ikun, Isua and other places in Akoko are not spared of this urgly situation as they have one or more stories to share when one talks about kidnapping.

Only recently, the Ondo State ADC chairman, Bisi Ogungbemi, the ADC Senatorial candidate for the 2019 general elections in the Ondo North District, Pastor Jide Ipinsagba along with other party members were abducted at Ago Ajayi on the Owo/Ikare road.

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It was gathered that Ogungbemi, Ipinsagba and the rest were released after paying an undisclosed amount of money as ransom.

The heat of kidnapping on the royal stool in Akoko was felt so hard and those who were unlucky to have sat on the hot seat included the Oluyani of Iyani, Oba Sunday Daodu and his second in command in the traditional setting of Iyani Akoko.

Oba Daodu who narrated his story in the kidnapper’s den said he would not wish his enemy to fall a victim.

From the royal stool was also the case of Mrs Olukemi Agunloye, the wife of the Alauga of Auga Akoko, Oba Samuel Kehinde Agunloye.

Olori Olukemi was kidnapped on the Iboropa/Ise/Auga road on her way from her family house Ugbe Akoko.

She described her experience in captivity as harrowing.

The list of the victims from the royal world included the case of the former regent of Akungba Akoko, Princess Toyin Omosowon near Ago Paanu on the Owo/Ikare road. Princess Toyin’s experience could be best narrated by her. The former regent who said she was made to trek long distance in the bush was lucky to be released through the combined efforts of the security agencies in the state.

Making the list of kidnap victims is the bad experience of a newly married couple who fell into the hands of men of the evil world.

Sunday Moses and his new wife were abducted at Akunnu in Akoko Northeast Local Government Area of Ondo State along with some family members, his best man and the brides maid.

In Ikun Akoko, an expectant mother and a business woman, Mrs Bosede Adefarati was also kidnapped at the collapsed bridge on the Oba/Ikun road while coming from a business trip.

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Her husband, Mr Babatunde Adefarati had to cough out N1,000,000.00 before she was released.

One could go on and on giving instances of the stories but then how would this solve the problem at hand.

The fact remains that kidnapping is worrisome and has continue to instill fear in the minds of the people.

In a bid to stem the tide of the menace, the men of the Nigerian Army, precisely, from the 32 Artillery Brigade, Akure had to invade the bushes in Auga in Akoko Northeast council area and according to the Assistant Director of Nigerian Army Public Relations, Major Ojo Adenegan, seven people were arrested.

However the situation has continued to be so worrisome that at a time traditional rulers in the area had to petition President Muhammadu Buhari on the development.

In the petition signed by its President, the Olodeagbede of Ikare Akoko, Chief Adejoro Olamomiara and its spokesman, Olodeja, Chief Samuel Ayodele Ojo they described the situation as worrisome and a stigma on Akoko people.

“It is a stigma on the people of Akoko to witness incessant kidnapping of Akoko Obas, regents, their households and also indigenes of Akoko.”

They called on President Buhari to find a lasting solution to the issue.

Similarly community leaders in Akoko have described the situation as fearsome and hindering the development of their communities.

They therefore called on government to put in good shape, the deplorable Owo/Ikare road which has witnessed more cases of kidnapping.

Alhaji Ibrahim Kilani, an Afin born Islamic cleric and veteran journalist posited that the deplorable condition of the roads in Akoko, especially the Owo/Ikare road has been largely responsible for the increasing wave of kidnapping and armed robbery cases in Akoko land.

Alhaji Kilani therefore called on the federal and Ondo state governments to reconstruct the road with urgency, stressing that these will chase away miscreants who had laid siege to the road.

He also called for the presence of more policemen and military checkpoints along the road.

In the same vein, a community leader in Oka Akoko, Gabriel Ariyo want the roads to be urgently rehabilitated.

Ariyo said the poor condition of the road has largely been responsible for the incessant kidnapping cases in the area.

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Reining in kidnappers in Ondo

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