By Abdulrasheed Akogun
Nigeria of recent has not had it so good in terms of security of lives and properties across the six geopolitical zones in the country. While terrorism keeps ravaging the North-east, militancy is prominent in the South-south — South-east axis, while banditry is rampant in the North-west and North-central parts of Nigeria.
Kwara State christened ‘state of harmony’ has had it so fair amidst the national insecurity challenges in the recent past, with scant record of any form of terrorism or banditry in the State, until lately, when the gale of kidnap for ransom is renting the peaceful air of the harmonious state. Yet, no one seems to be paying any serious attention to the highly intractable crime
Kidnapping remains the most virulent form of banditry in Nigeria and has become the most pervasive violent crime in the country and if its manifestation in Kwara state is not urgently tamed, it might become another contagious organized crime that will threaten personal, public and business lives and adversely affect our risk perception and socioeconomic rating as a State.
Despite the frightening events, neither the Kwara state government nor the state Police command has come out to address Kwarans of its awareness of the unfolding ugly developments or perhaps, explain measures being taken to stop the unpalatable trend and guarantee security of lives and properties. At least, this is principal among the duties of government to the people.
In 2020 alone, no fewer than three major kidnap for ransom cases in Ilorin, Kwara state capital were reported in the media space. From a Medical Doctor journeying from the North to Lagos; to a Director in the Kwara state Civil Service around October; to the Serkin Fulani of Ilorin around September, to a farmer around September and latest been a Cattle trader whose wife was murdered in cold blood and kid abducted from the ‘comfort’ of his home’.
THE TRAGEY OF ENROUTING KWARA
The victim is a medical doctor whose only sin was journeying through Kwara state to Lagos, from Minna, Niger state. He barely passed Eiyenkorin, Asa Local Government Area of Kwara state when he was ambushed and abducted by men of the underworld. His abduction threw the whole Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) into deep grief. They, however, breathed sigh of great relief when eventually, the abductors called to demand a ransom of N7million before the doctor could regain his freedom.
The Nigeria Medical Association later rallied its members, raised a sum of N3million and negotiated the ransom of their colleague. Finally, the doctor was released upon receipt of the ransom.
In similar circumstances, on December 30th, 2019 herdsmen kidnapped three indigenes of Obbo-Aiyegunle, Ekiti local government area of Kwara State who were travelling home for new year celebration.
It was gathered that the fourth victim reportedly escaped from the gunmen with serious injuries.
It was further gathered that the herdsmen took advantage of the poor road conditions in the area, to perpetrate kidnapping which according to residents is now becoming a daily occurence.
The Kidnappers who allegedly demanded a ransom of N50 million from the family members before the release of their victims, according to unconfirmed reports got #15m before freeing their victims.
AGONY OF ENTERPRISING CIVIL SERVANT
The second victim is a Director in the Kwara State Civil Service who chose to engage in farming as a side enterprise. His farmland is located along Alapa, Asa Local Government Area of Kwara state. He was kidnapped on a Saturday on his way to the farm.
The kidnappers reportedly demanded a ransom of N100 million from families of the civil servant – victim, but a sum of N35 million was raised by his family and friends to negotiate and consequently secure his release from the abductors.
WHEN OWN FARM BECOMES A DEN
Similar to the story of the Director of a Ministry in Kwara state, another farmer was kidnapped right on his own farm along Otte road, Asa Local Government Area around October, 2020.
According to Fresh Insight’s investigation, a ransom of N35 million was initially demanded from his family for his release. The family was however able to raise a sum of N7 million and same was collected by the abductors in exchange for the farmer.
The farmer, while giving account of his kidnap, said he was abducted and tied to a tree within a farm land for over 5 days, before his release was secured. Another farmer was reportedly kidnapped along Oko Olowo axis, whose release was secured with a ransom of N10 million.
The Sarki ‘n’ Fulani of Kwara State, Alh. Usman Adamu also fell victim on September 3 while driving out of the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, he was obstructed with a numberless Toyota Corrolla without plate number.
He was thus abducted with his car and son which was later dropped off at Share junction, while he was in the Kidnapper’s Den for close to 5 days.
His car, Peugeot 406 was later discovered abandoned at Bode-Saadu area of Moro, local government area of the State.
Fresh Insight findings fr family sources confirmed that a ransom of #7m was paid to secure his return.
WHEN HOME IS NO LONGER SAFE
The latest kidnap story in Ilorin occurred to the family of a cattle trader, who resides at Gaa Saka, along Itanmo in Ilorin West Local Government Area of Kwara State. It is the most brutal of all and reflects how armed and dreaded these criminals are.
Killed by Kidnappers while abducting his sons
Not only did the bloodthirsty assailants abduct a ward under the guardianship of their target, they also killed a nine-month old pregnant woman who was billed to deliver a set of twins a week later. The kidnapped ward is the son of a popular Ilorin born Islamic musician.
Narrating the ordeal of the family,
and how they were able to secure the release of the kidnapped victim,
Suleiman Elega popularly known as ‘Worldbest’, who is the elder brother of the man whose wife was killed, said, “I took the money to the kidnappers in the tick of the forest around Oko – Olowo area. I was on bike for almost 45 minutes, they started shooting sporadically, the gun was soldier-like.
“Seven of them came out to take the money, after which I requested for the boy. They asked me to go back that they would send Abdulbasit (the victim) down, I drove down to express waiting and they brought him on bike to the road and left back”, he added.