South West security challenges: Strength of kidnappers, armed robbers, ritualists, burglars now depleted — Police

Respite may have come for residents of the South West geopolitical zone of the country, as the Nigerian police, on Tuesday, said it had depleted the strength of kidnappers, armed robbers, ritualists, burglars in the zone, especially those who operated along the Ibadan-Ife highway and Iwaraja axis.

Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 11, Leye Oyebade who made this disclosure on Tuesday at a stakeholders’ security summit on Western Nigeria, held in Ibadan, avowed that the police had put criminals at bay in the zone following a reinvigoration of the “Operation Puff Adder” in Ondo, Osun and Oyo States.

For many weeks, palpable fear has gripped residents of the South West, with the reported operation of armed robbers as well as kidnappers on the Ibadan-Ife expressway, with instances of the kidnap of the son of former Minister of Health, Dayo Adewole; an orthopaedic surgeon, Professor Olayinka Adegbehingbe among others.

According to Oyebade, the success recorded in the battle against hoodlums was a consequence of the recent deployment of additional men, patrol vehicles and intelligence response team to tackle the menace in the region.

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He, however, noted that the police still faced challenges in curtailing the excesses of hoodlums who were quick to use the waterfronts and borders as escape routes after committing crimes in the hinterlands.

In view of its logistics challenges, Oyebade urged state governors in the region to support the police’s intention to embrace technology-driven policing including aerial surveillance to provide effective monitoring of hoodlums’ activities from the air.

“I am happy to inform you that we have been able to put criminals at bay in the Zone. We have also arrested many armed robbery suspects, kidnap suspects, suspected ritualists, burglars, and recovered cache of arms and ammunition, stolen vehicles, motorcycles, and other valuable property across the Zone especially since the launch of the ‘Operation Puff Adder’ in the three states.

“While some of the cases are still under investigation, others have been charged to courts. Recently, the Inspector General of Police deployed additional PMF men, Patrol Vehicles and Intelligence Response Team (IRT), to augment the existing structure. This has further assisted the Zone in depleting the strength of hoodlums who engaged in criminal activities, especially along the Ibadan-Ife highway and Iwaraja axis,” Oyebade said.

Speaking in the same vein, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Taiwo Lakanu stated that the police was poised to emplace Closed Circuit Television to police highways and cities in the country, to complement its implementation of community policing.

The security summit organized on the auspices of the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission had in attendance Governors Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos) and Gboyega Oyetola (Osun).

Asking the people to hold them accountable, the governors in their various remarks reiterated their advocacy for state policing while committing themselves to collaboration to fight armed robbery, kidnapping, farmers/herdsmen clashes and other criminality in the zone.

Speaking, Akeredolu, who is Chairman of South West governors forum, noted the need for joint border control, coordination of formal and informal security groups, and a toll-free line dedicated to quickly attend to crime-related issues.

He decried narrow-mindedness, parochial and political interests which dominated the insecurity discourse, noting that all individuals and leaders of the South West should rather consider the need for socioeconomic integration of the region.

Beyond political differences, Akeredolu stressed that all states in the region must sacrifice their independence in the interest of peace and prosperity.

Noting that the security agencies were overwhelmed by security challenges, Fayemi noted the need to reconfigure the nation’s security architecture to increase their effectiveness.

He argued that crime transcended borders, urging Nigerians to refrain from demonizing ethnic regions as being known from crime.

“There is no Fulani, Yoruba crime. Crime is a crime. Let’s refrain from demonizing ethnicity so as not to run the risk of not tackling the issue,” Fayemi said.

Speaking further, Fayemi also called for the strengthening of the criminal justice system so as to deal with criminals in a timely and efficient manner.

He drew attention to ignorance, poverty and crime running a vicious circle, noting that the nation must tackle poverty if the region was to tackle crime.

Speaking, Sanwo-Olu called for a strengthening of the judicial system, while stressing that each state must share from the comparative advantages of the other state so as to commonly develop as a region.

Abiodun emphasized the need to strengthen the states’ borders, while Oyetola stressed that the issue of insecurity must be addressed urgently else the people resort to self-help.

Calling for a regional approach to security in the region, host governor, Makinde, called for the strengthening of community policing and neighbourhood watch.

He emphasized that traditional rulers and local government administration must be empowered to monitor community policing for effectiveness.

The summit also featured remarks by Director General, DAWN Commission, Mr Seye Oyeleye and inputs from academics like Professor Femi Odekunle and Professor Tayo Adesina.

The list of personalities at the event also included, commissioners of police in the six states of the South West; the Osemawe of Ondo, Oba Victor Kiladejo; the Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi; the Ewi of Ado Ekiti, Oba Rufus Aladesanmi; the Olugbo of Ugbo, Oba Fredrick Akinruntan; the Aare Onakakanfo of Yoruba land, Iba Gani Adams.

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