COVID-19: Ekiti residents, authorities worry over insecurity amid lockdown

‘YOMI AYELESO reports the frustration and fears of residents as a result of insecurity in Ekiti State following the lockdown occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic and efforts by government and stakeholders in providing security.

 

No doubt, the battle against the coronavirus pandemic has remained the crux of major discourses across the globe and Ekiti State in particular in the last three months. Among the measures put in place in the state to curb the spread of the virus is the restriction of movement declared by the state governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi across the 16 local government areas of the state.

To help enforce this restriction, security agents in the state were deployed across the state. However, as the authorities put out measures protecting residents against the pandemic, residents and the police authorities have reported a growing wave of crimes such as killings, kidnappings, armed robbery and other heinous acts in the state in the last three months.

 

Of disturbing crimes…

On April 5,  Ikole-Ekiti community in Ikole Local Government Area  was  thrown into mourning following the killing of a 35-year-old chief by gunmen. The deceased, identified as Sola Fatunla was the Onibedo of Ilotin. He was reportedly killed and his corpse set ablaze by the assailants. The police later arrested four suspects in connection with the crime and were arraigned before the court.

Barely a week after the killing of Fatunla, a staff member of the Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government Area, Mrs Taiwo Ajayi was hacked to death by unknown persons in her home. The deceased was, until her death, worked at the primary health centre department of the local government. It was gathered that the woman was killed at her residence located within Ujumu compound, Odo Igede quarters, Igede Ekiti.

While speaking, the deceased›s first son, Toyin Ajayi, said his mother was killed in her room “which suggested that she must have been trailed to her home and attacked at midnight. I received a call following the death of my mother. On getting there, I met my mother in the pool of her blood in her room with bruises on her head and blood all over her body indicating that she was hacked to death.”

Also, a community leader, Emmanuel Adetona appealed to the police to commence investigation towards arresting and bringing the perpetrators to book.

The Onigede of Igede, Oba James Aladesuru, frowned over the killing saying concerted efforts are needed to tame the rising wave of criminality in the town. Oba Aladesuru said the killers must be apprehended and prosecuted to serve as deterrence to others.

Confirming the incident, the Police Public Relations Officer, Ekiti Command, Sunday Abutu, said the deceased was hacked to death inside her room.

Also on April 26, a councillor in Ilejemeje Local Government Area, Tunji Omotosho was killed and the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Folorunsho Olabode and a woman were kidnapped by unknown gunmen.

The gunmen ambushed the commissioner along Iludun-Isan-Ekiti road while traveling from Ado-Ekiti, the state capital to his hometown in Iye-Ekiti, Ilejemeje local government area of the state and killed Omotosho who was driving before whisking him away to an unknown destination. Olabode was later freed after some ransom was reportedly paid.

Also a woman identified as Sefiat Useni, who lived at Iyin Ekiti in Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government Area of the state, was killed inside her room in mysterious circumstances on May 13. Useni was alleged to have been gruesomely murdered inside her room at midnight.

The state police spokesman confirmed that she was murdered, adding that “We have arrested a suspect in respect of this murder and he is being detained at the CID section.”

Aside this, missing seven-year-old Taiwo Olagoke was found dead in a vehicle parked within her parents’ compound in Ado-Ekiti.

The sad incident occurred last week Wednesday at Winners’ Avenue, Olujoda area of the state capital. A family source who spoke with Nigerian Tribune explained that the deceased got missing at about noon and her corpse was later found in the evening in a vehicle parked in the compound.

Also, there were reported robberies during the lockdown in and around the state capital.

 

Worried residents

Robberies were reported at Emirin Estate and Tenibegiloju along Federal Polytechnic in Ado-Ekiti. Residents of Ayedun Quarters off Nova Road Basiri, Ado Ekiti, told Nigerian Tribune that they are also living in panic over the activities of suspected cultists terrorising the neighborhood. The suspected cultists, according to residents also engaged in armed robbery, burglary and sexual harassment in the area.

A resident who craved anonymity told Nigerian Tribune that all efforts to dislodge the hoodlums have been abortive. He said reports have been lodged at the Adebayo Police Station under which jurisdiction the area falls but the menace of the hoodlums have persisted.

Another resident noted that Aponwe Community Primary School in the area had been turned to a criminal hideout where the hoodlums pounce on residents at night. According to him, “They usually gather in the primary school for all kinds of crime. They snatch bags, phones and other valuables from innocent residents and they seem to be operating a separate kingdom of their own. We want the state police command to save us because it appears the nearest police station here cannot curb the criminals.”

 

‘Government must be alive to its responsibility’

Speaking, a Public Affairs Analyst, Bimbo Olarinwa said the government must be alive to its responsibility of securing the lives and property of the residents. “You must not forget that the primary duty of government to the people is the protection of lives and property and nothing must be substituted for this role. No doubt, the government is doing well towards protecting people against covid-19 but it is high time we began the operation of Amotekun. These crimes in the last few weeks call for serious concern,” he said.

 

We are embracing community policing—Ekiti CP

The police spokesman said the Commissioner of Police, Amba Asuquo would embrace the community policing agenda of the Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Adamu towards reducing crimes in the society.

“The police are going to deploy the community policing strategy as introduced by the IGP Adamu Mohammed, to reduce crimes in the state and this we are going to achieve with honesty, professionalism, transparency and through dedication to duties.

“As a matter of fact, there is no crime-free society, but the command, in its relentless efforts as being piloted by the CP, shall continue to effectively and efficiently work with all the available resources, engaging other sister agencies, the vigilantes, the OPC, the Amotekun, the PCRC, and other relevant stakeholders.”

 

We are concerned, working on the security situation —Governor Fayemi

Apparently worried by these ugly developments and calls from residents, the state governor, Dr Fayemi announced the corps commander and other board members for the State Security Network popularly called Amotekun.

According to the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Yinka Oyebode, in a statement, noted that the constitution of members of the governing board was for the effective and efficient take-off of the security network and its management. Fayemi named Mr. Akin Aregbesola as the chairman of the governing board, while Brig. General Joe Komolafe (rtd) would serve as the corps commander.

The governor said he was dissatisfied with the way hoodlums were taking over the forests and communities, urging the security network to go all out at ensuring that every part of the state was safe for all residents.

“As governors in the southwest, this was what led to our decision to set up the security network agency on a state by state basis but coordinating and collaborating with one another because crimes don’t recognise boundaries. We need to share intelligence, ideas and work together in order to ensure that whatever we do at the state level is effective and efficient and it’s collaborative with other stakeholders.

“We know and we all are very concerned with the security situation in our country, the primary responsibility of any government is the security and welfare of its citizens.

“The idea of course is that security is about people and it should be driven by people, the citizens themselves are the best providers of security because they have information about what is going on in their environment and if they are alive and attentive to it, they would be able to respond effectively to whatever challenges that may arise.”

The governor stated that the independent complaints agency that the state also put in place alongside the board was to address a legitimate concern of the populace that security apparatus might be hijacked by the political party in office to foment trouble or used to settle political issues.

“The uniqueness of this agency is the independent complaints board, because one of the legitimate concern that people are already expressing about the security network agency is that it may either be an extension of the political party in office or it may be used illegally against those who are perceived not to be in the good books of the government of the day.

 

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