Fear has gripped travellers plying the Lagos-Ibadan following a new spate of kidnappings on the strategic highway linking the South-West.
Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, Afenifere; former Minister of Education, Prof. Tunde Adeniran and some other South-west leaders have implored the federal government to take urgent security measures to protect travellers on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway following the abduction of a university don, Prof. Adigun Agbaje of University of Ibadan, and some other travellers on the highway last Friday.
Prior to the abduction of the university don, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway had become notorious for kidnappings. Between January and October this year, several kidnappings have taken place on the expressway.
Notable reported ones include the kidnapping of four wedding guests at Isara, Ogun state end of the Expressway in January, with the kidnappers demanding 15 million naira for the release of each of their captives. In February, five passengers travelling in a Sienna car were abducted at Onigaari end of the expressway. There have been several other ones since then.
While describing the activities of the kidnappers and the recent kidnap of the university don as well as others on the highway as very unfortunate and unacceptable, the General Secretary, Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr, Kunle Olajide, implored the federal government to take urgent action to stop the menace of the kidnappers, and other miscreants on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. He described the activities of the kidnappers as a serious threat to the entire nation.
“It is very unfortunate that we are having this ugly situation along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. This is a strategic road that must be secured at all cost by the federal government and Oyo, Lagos, and Ogun states government because of its strategic importance to the nation. These kidnappers must be dealt with.”
He said the nefarious activities of the kidnappers, and other miscreants posed a serious threat to the 2023 general election.
“The 2023 general elections is around the corner, and these criminals may extend their evil acts beyond kidnappings to other vices that may threaten the polls and the general well being of the people, not only from the South-west but other road users from other parts of the country.’’
On its part, Afenifere said the solution to the kidnappings and insecurity on the expressway was for the federal government to revisit the issue of State Police. Speaking through its spokesman, Mr. Jare Ajayi, the Yoruba socio-cultural organisation noted that recent kidnappings across the country had clearly shown that the Nigeria Police have been overwhelmed.
“The best solution, and the reality we must face, is that State Police has become a necessity. Nigerians can no longer be deceived by the federal government’s usual rhetoric that Nigerians should not panic, that they are on top of the situation. What we are talking about involves human lives, and we should no longer play politics with it,’’ he said.
Urging Oyo, Lagos and Ogun State governments not to fold hands while waiting for federal government’s intervention, Ajayi implored the states to set up joint security patrols since the expressway passed through the states.
Calling for the setting up of vigilante groups in various communities across the South-west, Adeniran said: “While states are waiting for the federal government’s intervention, immediate steps should be taken to set up vigilante groups across the various communities in the South-West. This is what we call Community Policing. Members should be equipped and mobilised to patrol forests surrounding our major highways where they can apprehend and fish out those criminals. They can collaborate with the police.’’
The former minister further enjoined the federal government to be receptive to the calls for the creation of State Police: “That is a call that can’t be wished away by the federal government. It is clear that insecurity has become such a big threat that we have to embrace community policing.”
Urging Oyo and Ogun state governments to mobilise Amotekun operatives, Maj.Gen Ishola Williams said members of the vigilante group were capable of taking on the kidnappers.