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‘Kidnappers should leave Osun, Ekiti, Ondo now’

•Security beefed up in police zone IX as AIG promises to deal with kidnappers •Disband Miyetti Allah, Dan Allah groups —Hausa leader

For Adesina (not real name), his experience towards the end of Ramadan sends him into shivers each time he remembers his narrow escape from kidnappers on Ife-Ibadan Highway. As a Muslim who was observing his fast, he had looked forward to getting to Ibadan, Oyo State, where he was domiciled, from Ife in Osun State where he was coming from, to break his fast.

Driving a Toyota Hilux van with a passenger, he cruised on, until he was rudely brought to a stop by hoodlums at a forest area at Apomu. According to the man, “it was about 6:30 p.m., when suddenly I saw a man run out of the bush and shooting sporadically. If not that I experienced it, I would not have imagined that there would be anyone at that spot, as the bushes surrounded the hill they were hibernating on to launch attacks.

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“As he was firing his guns towards the van, I was forced to a stop. I noticed that three people had been held down by other members. One of those that came to me was shouting ‘get down, get down’. One threw the cutlass he was holding at the passenger where she sat while the other one continued shooting.

“At a point, I remembered my engine was still running, so I engaged the gear and moved. They started shooting but I was not hit by the benevolent mercy of God. None of the bullets hit me and my passenger,” he told newsmen.

The attack by suspected herdsmen in the South West geopolitical zone, especially in Osun, Ondo and Ekiti states, has raised so much concern and unease among citizens of the zone and commuters plying interstate roads and highways daily.

In recent times, there have been kidnappings at different spots on Ibadan-Ilesa Road, particularly at Ikire, Wasinmi, Iwaraja, among others. Same goes for Ekiti and Ondo states, so much people have become afraid of plying the route.

Towards re-jigging the zone’s architecture, AIG Leye Oyebade had a strategic meeting with the three Commissioners of Police in Oyo, Osun and Ondo states during the week. The AIG said during the meeting that the locations where the kidnappers strike from had been identified and the real flash points noted.

He stated that a particular hilltop in the bush which serves as the criminals’ settlement and from where the kidnappers launch themselves out had been noted. The AIG assured the people living in the three states under the zone as well as commuters passing through that the police had got the Federal Government’s mandate to go all out to ensure that Zone XI is crime-free, adding that the zone would be embarking on some actions.

In a meeting with Hausa and Fulani leaders in Osogbo, AIG Oyebade said that the zone was determined to end the menace of the kidnappers.

He also urged the mobile policemen being deployed in the flashpoints to be professional in their conducts and do the needful to ensure that all the areas identified are cleaned out.

We must flush out all these undesirable elements in the system. Everyone passing through our highways must go unmolested.

“I want to sound this note of warning that we are ready. Whoever comes out to defy us will be dealt with decisively. If they are caught in the act, they will be dealt with decisively. Those that are arrested will be thoroughly and diligently prosecuted,” Oyebade stated.

He spoke of the fear that had been created in the hearts of commuters because of the activities of the kidnappers. He said that Inspector General of Police had given the zone mobile policemen and vehicles to work with. He also disclosed that some information had been given to the police on the spots on the highway, such as a point between Asejire and Apomu where they emerge from to strike hapless citizens.

“Tales by victims have revealed a lot to us, and we are working on this information to give our best to the zone to weed it of unwanted elements,” he added.

He also told the Hausa and Fulani leaders in all the identified areas to engage in community policing and join the police to make sure the war against kidnappers is won. “We also need information from you, the traditional rulers and leaders,” he said.

He warned that the leaders would be arrested if anything happens within their domain, with them not being able to identify those engaging in the act or reveal their identities to the police.

He urged them to meet regularly and feed the police with the resolutions adopted at such meetings.

Speaking with the Saturday Tribune after the meeting, AIG Oyebade said that the zone had deployed additional police personnel to fortify the flashpoints and other highways in the zone.

The AIG, who admitted the security challenges kidnappers in parts of the zone, said that the deployment of additional men was in response to the challenge.

According to him, “we have not only identified the major flashpoints, the Inspector General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu has given us additional units mobile policemen drawn from outside the zone and a detachment of his Intelligence Response Team (IRT).

“To complement the existing security already put in place, we have also deployed more patrol teams of Safer Highway, Operation Puff Adder and intelligence team.” He added that there was a crucial meeting with the three Commissioners of Police in the state, the Area Commanders and the Divisional Police Officers having jurisdiction over places with recent security challenges.

Oyebade added that apart from the leaders of the Fulani and Hausawa domiciled in the affected areas and the leaders of their host communities, the zone also extended invitation to the leadership of Miners’ Association in the zone.

“With these arrangements, and with the expected support of the three state governors, the zonal security stakeholders’ forum and other critical stakeholders, members of the public have their fears allayed,” the AIG saidto Saturday Tribune.

“As for the criminal elements whose activities have continued to be pains in the fragile necks of law-abiding citizens, we already have an antidote for their ailment – ruthless confrontation. And we shall continue to confront them until they are finally flushed out of Ondo, Osun and Oyo states, so that the peace for which the three states are known will not elude us,” the AIG warned.

In his remarks during the meeting with Fulani and Hausa leaders in the three states, the Chairman, Arewa Community Oke-Ogun, Ibarapa area of Oyo State, Mallam Ibrahim Lawal, calld for the disbandment of the Miyetti Allah and Dan Allah groups as the associations’ names could not be used to fight the crisis on ground.

“Concerning this security problem, we want the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Leye Oyebade, to write the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu. If they want us to solve this security problem, they should cancel the Miyetti Allah and Dan Allah groups; the associations’ names should not be used to fight this crisis. They want to use association to cause tribalism. We need genuine people to fight this cause,” Mallam Lawal said.

Also, Adam Sumaila Adebayo, secretary to Fulani Intelligence School, Osun State chapter, said: “We have done a lot in relation to kidnapping and armed robbery in Osun State. Thirty per cent of that has been solved. We need to work with the current AIG; all we need is cooperation to make things work out.”

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