•Adds herdsmen, cattle rustlers may attack
•Oba meets Enigies; informs of inclusion in security team
•20 killed as B-Haram gunmen invade Borno village
•28 travellers kidnapped along Akure/Ikere-Ekiti highway
By Dayo Johnson Akure, Rotimi Ojomoyela, Ndahi Marama, Maiduguri & Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu
BENIN—The Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II of Benin has raised the alarm that criminal elements, including bandits and herdsmen, are building camps in forests within his kingdom.
This came as no less than 20 farmers were shot dead on Tuesday when Boko Haram terrorists invaded farmlands at Ngamgam village of Damasak, headquarters of Mobbar Local Government Area of Borno State.
On the heels of these, gunmen yesterday kidnapped 28 travellers along Akure/Ikere-Ekiti highway in Ekiti State.
Criminal camps now in Edo forests— Oba of Benin
The Oba, who disclosed this when he met with Enigie (dukes) in his kingdom in Benin yesterday, urged them to be more vigilant in their communities.
He directed Enigie to nominate credible persons from their villages to be part of the Security Surveillance Team to be set up by Edo State Government.
The Oba said government has resolved to set up the Security Surveillance Team to help identify criminals and their hideouts in the society.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Oba, Desmond Agbama, quoted the Oba as telling the Enigie that investigations had revealed that herdsmen and kidnappers as well as other sets of criminals have established camps in the forests in the various villages in Edo State, adding that there was need for the Enigie and the people to provide information that would help security agencies dislodge such criminal camps in the forest.
The Benin Monarch said those to be nominated by the Enigie would be thoroughly screened to ascertain their integrity and uprightness in carrying out the function and warned the Enigie not to usurp their powers once nominated.
Oba Ewuare II charged those to be nominated to do their work diligently and truthfully and report any criminal or person with questionable character to the Enigie who will in turn forward same to the relevant security agencies for necessary action.
The Oba of Benin said the Palace was pleased with the Enigie for their loyalty and dedication over the years and urged them to keep supporting the Palace in order for peace and progress not to elude the people, assuring that more good things awaited the people in the years ahead.
20 killed as B-Haram gunmen raid Borno village
The Damasak attack is coming barely two weeks after a group of insurgents attacked a military base in the same area, which led to the killing of a senior military officer.
Damasak shares borders with Niger Republic, and has witnessed series of deadly Boko Haram attacks. It is about 200km drive north of Maiduguri, the state capital.
According to a source, “the attack took place on Tuesday, June 25, 2019, when Boko Haram insurgents attacked Ngamgam settlement about 50km east of Damasak, Mobbar Local Government Area, Borno State, killing 20 farmers while planting crops for this year’s rainy season.”
It was, however, gathered that the incident resulted in a mass exodus of people from the settlement to Damasak and other safe communities of Niger Republic.
Bakura Kachallah, a member of the pro-government vigilante group, Civilian Joint Task Force, said he helped evacuate the corpses of 20 or more people.
“They stormed the settlement in about five pick-up vans and motorcycles, first accusing the villagers of divulging information on their operations to the military, thereby colluding with the military to fight against them.
“They told the villagers point-blank that they had come to punish them; and they immediately proceeded to slaughter some of the farmers and shooting the others; the total killed is 20; but I cannot tell you how many were slaughtered.
“The insurgents are used to carrying out serial killing of people in the border villages; but this time they embarked on mass killing of villagers, mainly for the offence of divulging information to the military on their operations.
“The insurgents are used to imposing taxes on the residents of all the villages and enslaving them, especially to farm for them; so this massive killing of the Ngangam farmers could also have been intended by the insurgents as a stern warning to the residents of the agrarian settlements to, as the rainy season sets in, prepare to farm for them,” another source told Vanguard yesterday on condition of anonymity.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, though a security source said it had been Boko Haram, rather than rival insurgent group, Islamic State West Africa Province, ISWAP.
All efforts to confirm the story from police or military authorities proved abortive at press time.
28 passengers abducted on Akure/Ado-Ekiti road
Meanwhile, barely twenty-four hours after governors of the six states in the South-West met in Ibadan, Oyo, State, to insist on state police as a sure step to checkmate the spate of kidnapping in the region, 28 passengers, including the driver, were yesterday kidnapped by gunmen along Akure / Ikere-Ekiti highway.
The commercial driver was driving towards Akure from Ado-Ekiti when the kidnappers blocked the highway and reportedly abducted him and some of the passengers.
But the state police command in a swift reaction, debunked the report that more than 10 passengers in the commercial bus were abducted along with the driver.
The police command image maker, Femi Joseph, confirmed that only the driver of the commercial bus was kidnapped, describing the alarm raised by some people in the state over the incident as a deliberate attempt to cause panic in the state.
However, sources at Ado-Ekiti motor park in Akure said travelers on the road noticed that the doors of a bus were left open in the middle of the road and raised alarm.
“That was what attracted the attention of motorists and when the bus was checked, it was discovered that it was a commercial vehicle and the driver and passengers could not be found and they raised alarm,” the source said.
The source, who confirmed the abduction of the driver, said the actual number of the passengers in the bus could not be ascertained.
He said: “The park was contacted and the driver’s union swung into action, only to find that the vehicle belongs to one of the members of the union.
“The hoodlums took advantage of the bad spot to carry out their operation, the whereabouts of the occupants of the vehicle remain unknown, but we have reported to the security operatives.”
But another source, who is a resident of the area, said the kidnapped passengers were in two vehicles, including an 18-seater bus and a 9-seater vehicle.
The source, who preferred anonymity, said the drivers of the vehicles were taken away by the gunmen alongside their passengers.
The state police spokesman, Femi Joseph, said the family of the kidnapped driver was the one that lodged the complaint at the state police command.
The command said in a statement: “The Ondo State Police Command wishes to allay the fears of the general public as a result of the news making the rounds on the social media that an 18-seater bus conveying some passengers from Ikere to Akure was blocked and ten passengers kidnapped.
“Some online bloggers even referred to the victims as youth corps members. We wish to state that the story was exaggerated and good enough, the State Co-ordinator of NYSC in Ondo State has issued a statement denying that any corps member was involved.
“To set the records straight, a space bus Toyota Previa vehicle was driven by one Akinde Felix from Ikere-Ekiti en route Akure, yesterday 25/6/2019, with only the driver inside.
“At about 4am, on a spot close to the NYSC camp at Ita-Ogbolu, the vehicle was blocked by suspected hoodlums while the driver who was the only occupant was whisked away.
“The command has since begun investigation and is intensifying efforts not only to rescue the victim but to also arrest the perpetrators.”
‘Corps members not abducted’
Meanwhile, the NYSC in the state has equally debunked the report that some corps member in the state were kidnapped.
A statement by the management of the NYSC in the state, said “the news is not only false but also baseless and unfounded. Reacting to the incident yesterday, the Ondo State Government described it as a false report.
Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Segun Ajiboye, said the security report indicated that only the driver of the commercial bus was kidnapped.
According to him, the driver of the bus was yet to take passengers into the bus when he reportedly ran into the barricade made by the hoodlums.
He assured the people of the state that security agencies are on top of the situation and that people with criminal intentions would have no breathing space in the state.
According to him, the police are already on the trail of the abductors of the driver of the commercial bus and would soon ensure his release.
We’re studying the situation—Ekiti govt
In his reaction, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Mr. Yinka Oyebode, said the state government was studying the situation and expecting security briefing on the situation from the Police. He added that part of its effort at rejuvenating security and confronting the challenges of kidnapping and other crimes in the state was the hosting of meeting of agencies and administrators by the state from Thursday to Friday this week.
Vehicle belongs to our member—NURTW leadership
On its part, leadership of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, in Ekiti State confirmed the incident, saying the vehicle involved belong to a driver popularly known as Ikere.
I can’t confirm it, says Ekiti PPRO
But when contacted, Ekiti State Police Command spokesman, DSP Caleb Ikechukwu, said he could not confirm the story, adding that as soon as this was done, the command would publicize its findings.
Ikechukwu said: “I can’t confirm the incident, I’m yet to briefed but as soon as I have the information, it will be made available to the press.”