Escalating insecurity: Kidnappers seize students and educators, request N30 million ransom

Escalating insecurity: Kidnappers seize students and educators, request N30 million ransom

NewNaija 4 months ago 2 3

In Ekiti State, gunmen believed to be herdsmen abducted six students, three teachers, and the driver of a private school bus on Monday night.

They were kidnapped during their return journey from Eporo-Ekiti aboard the school bus.

Barely hours after the killings of two monarchs along Ipao-Oke Ako Road, gunmen abducted six pupils, three teachers, and the driver of a school bus in Ekiti State. The victims, students of Apostolic Nursery and Primary School in Emure-Ekiti, were taken while returning from Eporo-Ekiti. The kidnappers have demanded a N30 million ransom for the release of the abducted pupils and other victims. Additionally, five suspected kidnappers were apprehended by a joint operation team comprising the Ekiti State Police Command, Amotekun, OPC, Civil Defence, and Local Hunters during a bush combing operation in Oke-Osun, Ikere/Igbo-Okah, towards the thick forest around Iju/Ikere boundary.

In the course of questioning, the individuals, self-professed herdsmen, were discovered in possession of two motorcycles, a cutlass, a jackknife/dagger, and four mobile phones.

The apprehended individuals are Usman Jelili, Mohammed Bande, Abubakar Aliu, Isah Abdulahi, and Suleiman Abdulahi.

Regarding the murdered traditional rulers, reports indicate that they were returning from an event in Kogi State when they encountered suspected kidnappers who had set up an ambush.

According to sources, as the kidnappers pursued Alara with the intent to abduct him, the other two monarchs tried to flee but were shot by the gunmen.

Michael Ogungbemi, the Chairman of the Ajoni Local Council Development Area where the incident occurred, confirmed that the bodies of the two monarchs have been recovered from the scene and transported to a mortuary.

Confirmed reports indicate that the traditional rulers were en route from Kogi State when they came under attack in the Oke Ako area. Tensions are escalating in the communities of the deceased monarchs, with some suggesting that the populace may feel compelled to arm themselves against suspected herdsmen responsible for the killings.

Governor Biodun Oyebanji swiftly responded to the tragic events, assuring Ekiti residents that security measures have been intensified to facilitate the rescue of the kidnapped school pupils and their teachers. President Bola Tinubu has directed security agencies to promptly rescue the abducted individuals, asserting that the perpetrators of the traditional rulers’ killings would face justice.

Answering this call, the Ekiti and Ondo Police commands have initiated a collaborative rescue operation. Governor Oyebanji, in a statement, condemned the abduction as heartless and unacceptable, emphasizing that no effort would be spared in the mission to rescue the children and their teachers.

“Security agencies within the state are actively pursuing the abductors with a clear directive to ensure the safe return of the pupils and their teachers,” he stated.

The governor emphasized that security measures are being heightened throughout the state to eliminate criminal elements from their hiding places. While urging citizens to stay calm and vigilant, he appealed for cooperation with security agencies by providing relevant information to the authorities.

Governor Oyebanji pledged a rapid and thorough rescue operation to guarantee the safe release of the abducted children. In response to the crisis, the Ekiti and Ondo Police have initiated a collaborative rescue mission.

Addressing the media in Ado-Ekiti, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Sunday Abutu, disclosed that the Ekiti Police Command, in collaboration with their Ondo counterparts, has initiated a search and rescue operation in the area where the incidents occurred, including the adjacent forest, to secure the release of the 10 kidnapped victims. He further stated that various sister agencies have joined forces to bring the victims back to their families and apprehend the perpetrators behind this reprehensible act.

Regarding the killing of the monarchs, Abutu described it as a suspected murder. He assured that necessary measures are being taken, with tactical and intelligence teams deployed to the area to identify and apprehend the assailants.

In a separate development, the Federation of Ekiti State Students’ Union (FESSU) organized a peaceful walk in Ado-Ekiti, appealing for the intervention of the state government to rescue the abducted pupils and restore security.

Addressing journalists in Ado-Ekiti, the National President of the Federation of Ekiti State Students’ Union (FESSU), Comrade Abel Adewale Ajibade, expressed deep sorrow over the incident. He urged the security forces, media organizations, and the government to swiftly intervene and rescue the kidnapped pupils, ensuring their safe return to a secure environment. Ajibade emphasized the importance of education as a fundamental right and questioned the state of that right if students cannot study in a peaceful setting.

In response to the killing of the two traditional rulers, President Tinubu unequivocally declared that the perpetrators of this heinous act would not escape justice. A statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, conveyed Tinubu’s condolences to the families and subjects of the traditional rulers, Governor Oyebanji, and the people of Ekiti State. Additionally, Tinubu directed an immediate rescue operation for the kidnapped pupils and teachers in the Eporo-Ekiti area of the state.

“As the government’s primary responsibility is the security of life and property, President Tinubu assures Nigerians that the nation’s security architecture is being robustly strengthened for improved and anticipated outcomes,” the statement conveyed.

President Tinubu expressed deep sorrow over the killing of two traditional rulers in Ekiti State, namely the Onimojo of Imojo-Ekiti, Oba Olatunde Samuel Olusola, and the Elesun of Esun-Ekiti, Oba David Babatunde Ogunsola. The statement condemned the ruthless bloodshed and assured that the perpetrators would face justice. President Tinubu extended condolences to the families and subjects of the traditional rulers, Governor Biodun Oyebanji, and the people of Ekiti State, acknowledging the profound grief caused by this distressing development.

In response to the tragic incident, the Onisan of Isan-Ekiti and the immediate past Chairman of the Ekiti Council of Obas, Oba Gabriel Ayodele Adejuwon, mourned the untimely death of the monarchs. He described their demise at the hands of armed Fulani bandits as a poignant reminder of the challenges faced by the community.

“Olumojo’s fearless advocacy for people’s rights and Elesun’s unwavering dedication to development have left enduring imprints on our hearts. Their legacies will forever be engraved in the history of our state.

“In denouncing these senseless attacks, we stand united against violence and injustice. Let us commemorate and honor the exemplary lives of these noble leaders. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and the entire community during this difficult time.”

South-West PDP Urges Oyebanji to Seek Assistance

Responding to the tragic events, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the Southwest criticized Governor Oyebanji for the escalating insecurity in Ekiti State. The party advised him to acknowledge any shortcomings in administering the state and its resources. In a statement by the Publicity Secretary, Chief Sanya Atofarati, the South-West PDP expressed sorrow over the unfortunate killing of the two monarchs. The party lamented the current state of Nigeria, describing it as a dreadful nightmare and an “animal republic,” with citizens feeling overwhelmed and helpless.

“It is now essential for every rational citizen of Ekiti State, irrespective of religious or political affiliation, to compel the Governor not only to resign but also to apologize to the people of Ekiti for his gross incompetence since assuming power in 2022.”

The PDP spokesperson asserted that Nigerians have never experienced such dire circumstances in all aspects, urging well-meaning individuals to contribute to rescuing the country from what he termed “progressive terrorists.”

Atiku Calls on Tinubu to Step Aside

Similarly, the 2023 Presidential Candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has advised President Tinubu to step aside if the responsibilities of governance have proven overwhelming. Atiku, expressing his views on his Twitter handle @atiku, mocked the President for undertaking a ‘private’ foreign trip while the nation, especially Abuja and other parts, seemed to be at the mercy of armed kidnapping gangs. He remarked, “Tinubu is playing the fiddle while Nigeria is drowning in the ocean of insecurity.”

“The Commander-in-Chief is on a purported private visit while kidnappers claim the lives of a nursing mother and grandmother in Abuja for failing to pay a N90 million ransom and two monarchs in Ekiti, among other recurrent tragedies afflicting Nigerians. If the responsibilities are too burdensome for Emilokan, he should step aside. Nigeria does not need another Tourist-in-Chief. The country requires 24/7 leadership to confront the pervasive insecurity and collapsing economy.”

Senate Summons Security Chiefs for Meeting Next Week

Expressing concern about the escalating insecurity marked by numerous crimes, banditry, and kidnappings nationwide, the Senate has once again summoned all service chiefs to appear before it next week. The Senate invoked its earlier resolutions to invite the security chiefs for an interactive session with the aim of addressing the insecurity crisis affecting the country.

Those summoned to appear before the Senate include the Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa; Chief of Army Staff, General Taoreed Lagbaja; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Hasan Abubakar; and Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun.

In addition to the previously mentioned service chiefs, the Senate has also summoned the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar; Director General of the Department of State Services, Yusuf Bichi; and the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu.

This decision was reached following a motion titled “Spate of Insecurity in Nigeria,” sponsored by all 107 senators, which was discussed during an executive session. The Senate aims to collaborate with the security chiefs to develop a report that will be presented to President Tinubu for further action. Emphasizing that security is a collective responsibility, the senators highlighted that without security, progress for Nigeria as a nation is unattainable. The senators conducted a closed-door session from 12:20 to 2:25 pm.

Before the executive session, the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Abba Moro, PDP, Benue South, raised a point of order citing Order 41 and 52 on a matter of urgent public importance. He highlighted an attack in Agatu on January 18, 2024, where bandits killed and took over communities. The President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, stepped down discussions on the point of order, indicating that there were up to five similar motions, necessitating the closed-door session to address all the motions.

The Senate had previously summoned the security chiefs on December 30, 2023, to provide explanations for military lapses. However, the meeting was postponed as the senators passed the 2024 Appropriation Bill into law and proceeded on a Christmas and New Year break. They resumed plenary yesterday.

Following the closed-door session, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, APC, Ekiti Central, the Leader of the Senate, read out the resolutions of the 109 Senators. He highlighted the surge in security breaches since the lawmakers went on break and emphasized the imperative to address them decisively.

Senate President Akpabio stated, “After the interactive session with the security chiefs, scheduled for next week, we would also fix a time to discuss the outcome with Mr. President. We have a responsibility to collaborate with the executive and contribute our ideas to ensure that our constituents and ourselves, including our children, can sleep with two eyes closed.”

The House of Representatives is set to organize a security summit, while urging President Tinubu to address the current security challenges by making necessary changes to the security chiefs. Speaker Mr. Tajudeen Abbas expressed concern about the escalating insecurity nationwide as he addressed members upon resumption from the Christmas and New Year break.

Abbas called on President Tinubu to take decisive action, including changing the security chiefs if needed, to effectively tackle the security challenges. He acknowledged and commended the President for directing security chiefs to intensify their efforts in addressing the rising insecurity in the country.

Expressing deep worry over increasing cases of insecurity, including kidnapping in Abuja and other regions, as well as bandit attacks in Plateau State resulting in fatalities, Abbas stated, “In these trying times, President Bola Tinubu has exhibited exemplary leadership and a proactive approach. His recent interventions and directives for more action by security agencies are timely and reflective of his deep-seated resolve to restore peace and order. Indeed, the time has come for the President to demand greater performance and accountability from our service chiefs and all security and enforcement agencies. I implore the President not to shy away from making the tough decisions. If necessary, we must not hesitate to enact changes within our security apparatus, for the cost of inaction is far too great to bear.”

Abbas additionally announced that, considering the challenges, the House will propose the organization of a National Legislative Security Summit. This summit is envisioned to be a platform for generating ideas, bringing together stakeholders from various sectors such as security, traditional and religious institutions, academia, civil society, and more. The goal is to collaboratively devise lasting solutions to the country’s security challenges.

He directed all relevant security-focused committees in the House to interact with the security chiefs to identify immediate measures and resources necessary for enhancing security nationwide.

Over 180 Kidnapped in Abuja, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Kogi, Niger in One Month

A distressing report indicates that over 180 individuals were kidnapped by bandits and herdsmen in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and neighboring states, including Kaduna, Nasarawa, Kogi, and Niger, between December 2023 and the present month. The incidents highlight an alarming surge in kidnapping activities, particularly in the FCT, where there were no reported incidents for about 10 months before December 2023.

From December 2023 to the present, over 180 individuals have fallen victim to kidnappings in the states of Abuja, Kaduna, Niger, and Nasarawa.

In January, a man and six of his daughters were abducted during a home invasion in the Bwari area of the FCT. The kidnappers released the father but demanded a N50 million ransom for the release of his children. Tragically, one of the sisters, a 21-year-old undergraduate, was killed by the kidnappers due to delayed ransom payment.

Similarly, in January, 30 people were kidnapped along the Abuja-Kaduna highway at Dogon Filli. In another incident, a man along with 13 of his children and other relatives returning to Kaduna from Edo State were kidnapped on the Abuja-Kaduna highway.

Further, in December 2023, three individuals were kidnapped in the Kurudu community of Abuja, while 10 others were abducted in Sagwari Estate, Dutse Alhaji, Abuja, in January 2024.

The Lugbe-Kuje-Airport road axis witnessed six kidnapping incidents in January 2024. Additionally, 12 individuals were abducted at Gbaupe Community, bordering Kuje and the AMAC estate, along Airport Road, Abuja, in December 2023.

On the Abuja-Katari-Kaduna highway, approximately 85 people have been kidnapped between December 2023 and January 2024. Along the Kubwa/Dei-Dei axis, which extends to the Abuja-Kaduna highway, 23 people were kidnapped during the same period.

In 2023, government statistics for Abuja revealed 40 kidnapping cases involving 236 victims. On Monday, IGP Kayode Egbetokun reported that the Police had successfully rescued 154 kidnapped victims through various operations.

Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State emphasized the need for state police to combat the prevailing insecurity challenges. He called for the establishment of state police, citing the urgency to address security issues across different regions of the country. Governor Makinde noted that the federal government’s refusal to approve the South-West Governors’ request to establish state police led to the creation of the Western Nigeria Security Network Agency, known as Amotekun. He urged the federal government to reconsider this matter.

The governor made these remarks during a courtesy visit by the Conference of Speakers of State Legislators, South-West Chapter, led by the chairman and speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly, Mr Adeoye Aribasoye. The speakers visited Governor Makinde in his office in Ibadan, where he expressed gratitude for their condolences and words of support following the January 16 explosion in Bodija, Ibadan.

Governor Seyi Makinde reiterated the importance of collaboration and cooperation between the executive and legislative arms of government to deliver dividends of democracy and foster development in the state.

Regarding the prevailing security challenges in the country, Governor Makinde emphasized that the establishment of state police was a timely and necessary idea. He dismissed concerns in some quarters that states might struggle to maintain state police, asserting that such fears were unfounded.


SOURCE: vanguardngr

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