REVEALED: Kidnap groups that terrorise Ondo, their mode of operation

YCE, Afenifere, M-Belt Forum, SANs back Ondo gov
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu

…Attacks that informed Akeredolu’s action

By Evelyn Usman and Dayo Johnson

The peace and tranquility hitherto experienced  in Ondo  State, is gradually being replaced by fear and uncertainty, as the state grapples with  a new wave of criminality – kidnapping!

Many indigenes and residents alike, have had their  fair share of experience in the hands of kidnappers.

Saturday Vanguard findings revealed that these kidnappers consist two major groups: criminals who masquerade as herdsmen. These herdsmen  intercept vehicles on highway and whisk their victims  into the forest, from where they contact their families for ransom. This group also attacks victims in their farmlands  and take them into the forest reserve areas, from where negotiations for their release are made through telephone conversation.

Militants

Another group  of kidnappers in Ondo State  are those suspected to be Militants , majority of who live In the  riverine areas. For this group, its members  operate both  in and outside  the state.

On May 25, 2017, its members stormed Igbonla Model College in  Epe, through the river,  abducted

Six students, all boys   and  ferried them back to their hideout at Aboto Creek, Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State.

The students were kept in the creeks for 64-days, as their captors insisted on collecting ransom running into several millions of naira from the Lagos State Government under former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s administration, before releasing them.

They were eventually  released and reunited with their families, after  Governor

Akeredolu ‘s personal intervention.  In fact the students’ stay in the kidnappers’ den was  recorded as the longest in the South West.

Kidnap for rituals

While the Igbonla kidnap gang does its for business, investigation further revealed that some of these kidnappers  who  operate in Ondo State do so for money rituals purposes. They kidnap their victims, cut off parts of their bodies and abandon the rest. At times, their victims were never traced.

An instance was the case of the abduction of a 13-day-old baby, in December 2018. Two  armed men had storm Uro quarters in Ajowa Akoko, Akokho North West Local Government Area of Ondo state,  about 1am and  picked the baby who laid beside his sleeping mother .

On their way out, a Septuagenarian whom they met at the veranda, was matcheted and abandoned in the pool of her blood .

New dimension

But kidnapping by some herders has assumed horrible dimension owing to the mercilessness with which they operate.  They kill their victims at will, without recourse to the sanctity of human life, or consideration for age, sex and status in the society.

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Lecturer killed

In 2018, four persons , among them a  lecturer of the Rufus Giwa Polytechnic Owo (RUGIPO),

Taiwo Akinyemi , were abducted at Amurin Village in Owo Local Government Area of the state.

Others were  members of staff of the Federal Medical Centre Owowere. While the latter  were freed after payment of  an undisclosed ransom, after spending   six days in the forest,  52-year-old  Akinyemi was not.

Rather, he was killed and his lifeless body  found tied to a tree in the forest. His offense was simply  because his family failed to produce the ransom on time.

Politicians too

Same year,  the Senatorial candidate for the Ondo North senatorial district on the platform of the African Democratic Congress, Jide Ipinsagba,  the party’s Chairman, Bisi Ogungbemi and three others,  were kidnapped along Owo-Oba Akoko road. On their part, they were released , but not without payment of ransom.

Falae’s experience

Three years earlier,  former Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Chief Olu Falae was  a guest of the kidnappers for days . In his case,  he was kidnapped  right in his farmland at Ilado , Akure,  the state capital,  on his birthday.

That fateful Monday,  some armed herdsmen , as narrated by him, stormed his farmland,  brushed  him with a knife, as a warning for  him to cooperate with them.  Thereafter, they  dragged him barefooted into the forest.

The journey from his farmland started about 2.30pm , until they arrived at where he was kept by 2am.

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Throughout the 12-hour journey, he was neither offered food nor water to drink.

The herdsmen, six of them, who referred to him as baba ,threatened every 30 minute, to kill him  if money for his ransom was not paid.  Thursday morning was given as ultimatum for the ransom for his release to be paid ,failure of which life would be snuffed out of him.  Luckily, ransom was paid   21 minutes before the ultimatum.

Funke Olakunrin

One of the operations of the herdsmen turned kidnappers that shook Nigeria and beyond, was the  killing of Mrs Funke Olakunrin,  daughter of 95- year old Pa Reuben Fasoranti, the national leader of the Pan Yoruba Socio- Political group, Afenifere.

She  was  shot dead by suspected Fulani herdsmen along the  Benin/Ore expressway in 2019. Her vehicle and others , ran into the barricade mounted by the suspected  herdsmen. In the kidnappers bid to do what  they knew best, they fired indiscriminately in an apparent bid to bring the vehicle  to a halt.

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Unfortunately, a bullet hit her, killing her on the spot, while other occupants were abducted.

Four suspects were later arrested.

First class monarch

Another climax of the  state of worsening  insecurity in Ondo State was the  murder of Oba lsreal Adeusi , allegedly by  herdsmen,  last year November, at  Elegbeke village along Akure/ Owo highway.

Children not spared

Children are not spared either, by these vicious elements. For instance, last November, three  children of same parents were abducted by gunmen along Owo/ lfon highway, alongside their mother , while traveling to attend a festival at Imoru , in Ose Council area of the state. They were released after N2.5 million was paid as ransom.

Travelers

Travelers are major targets of these kidnappers. They  come out of the bush, harass travelers with gun shots and  whisk many of them into the bush, from where they contact their families for ransom. In one of the instances,  nine travelers who were on their way to Lagos  from Abuja, were abducted at Ago Asabia, before Elegbeka. and whisked into the bush.

16 market women leaders too

Also last November, 16  travelers were abducted by the suspected  Fulani herdsmen along  Akure/ Owo highway..

Amongst them was  the Iyaloja of Isua Akoko in Akoko North East council area of the state, Chief Mrs  Helen Edward and other council officials who were travelling to Akure, the state capital for the state government monthly meeting of Iyalaje, iyalojas. They were abducted between Ogbese and Uso and a demand of N100 million ransom for their release .

Gov. Akerodolu CSO’s wife too

Again, last November, wife of Governor  Rotimi Akeredolu Chief of Staff, Chief Olugbenga Ale and her friend  ,  were kidnapped at Owena in Idanre council area of the state. Her kidnap sent fear down the spine of politicians and their families , as they were unsure of who would be the next victim.

She was said to have been rescued two days later,  following the joint operation mounted by the Amotekun Corps and other security agencies in the state and after exchanging of gunshots with her captors.

Couple, three children

Recently, a couple, Mr and Mrs Gbenga lbikunle ,  were abducted along Uso – Owo highway, while travelling to  Ebonyi state, in the company of their three children.

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Unlike the previous case, the children were abandoned  inside their parents Lexus jeep on the highway, from  where they watched helplessly with tear-filled eyes as  their parents were being marched into the bush. .

They were however released three days later after paying N2million ransom.

FUTA Deputy Registrar murdered

While Mr and Mrs Ibikunle lived to share their ordeal in the kidnappers den, same was not  the case of  Deputy Registrar of  the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State, Dr Amos Arijesuyo , who was shot in the chest by kidnappers at Iwaraja area of Ilesa- Akure highway, in Osun State while  travelling back to Akure from lbadan, a week ago. His driver narrowly escaped same fate but the bullet hit him in the arm.

Ultimatum

Irked by the brazen effrontery with which  these herdsmen in the state, Governor Akeredolu issued a seven-day warning to herders to vacate government forest reserves and also banned night grazing and cattle movement by underage within cities and highways in Ondo State

He stated emphatically that security reports and debriefings from victims of kidnap cases pointed in one direction traceable to some criminals  masquerading as herdsmen. The Governor in an interactive meeting  with the leadership of the Hausa/Fulani and Ebira Communities in Akure, decried activities of the criminal elements whom he said had turned forest reserves in the state and across the Southwest into hideouts for keeping victims of kidnapping, negotiating for ransom and carrying out other criminal activities.

He however, gave  one-week grace to  those who wished to carry on with their cattle-rearing business to register with appropriate authorities.

Cheers and knocks

Since Akeredolu handed down this ultimatum , it has been greeted with mixed reactions. While some applauded him for being bold to make such pronouncement, others were of the view that he over stepped his bounds as they argued that such comments could spike violence.

Presidency reacts

The Presidency frowned at Akeredolu’s pronouncement , as it cautioned him that such statement could set off a chain of events which the constitution anticipated and tried to guard against.

But some bodies also backed Akeredolu, alleging that the Presidency has failed to take actions against criminal herdsmen whose operations have caused pain and sorrow in many parts of Nigeria.

Vanguard News Nigeria

The post REVEALED: Kidnap groups that terrorise Ondo, their mode of operation appeared first on Vanguard News.

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