By Dayo Johnson Akure
POLICE authorities in Ondo State have read a riot act to community leaders across the state, warning that they would now be held responsible for further kidnappings in the state.
Talking tough, the state police commissioner, Undie Adie told the leadership of Miyetti Allah, Hausa community leaders and other stakeholders that they will now be compelled to be taken along into the forest with vigilante groups in search of any kidnap victim in their jurisdictions.
This was the outcome of a security meeting the police authorities in the state held with them after the kidnap of a driver and passengers in a bus last Tuesday along Akure- Ado-Ekiti highway.
Also in attendance at the meeting were Divisional Police Officers, DPOs, and heads of departments of the state police command.
The police chief said: “ Henceforth we will first arrest the leaders before going to arrest the suspects.
“As from now, every community leader must keep an eye on their subjects because it is presumed that the leaders of the communities are benefiting from the criminality.
“Any leader that failed to cooperate with the police would be held responsible in any case of kidnap reported to have occurred in his jurisdiction.
“l called this meeting for us to partner with stakeholders in order to solve crime related issues happening in the state especially kidnapping and armed robbery.
“You, the leaders of various groups should try to identify strange faces in your domain and report them to the police.
“l enjoin you to go home and fish out criminal elements in your areas and inform the police so that we can flush them out to have a peaceful and crime-free society.
“You must watch out for strangers in your areas and try to identify your members and also those who are criminals.
“Also, ensure you hand them over to the police because after this meeting, any suspected kidnapper arrested in your area the leader of that community will also be arrested.
Reacting, the Special Assistant to the governor on Hausa/ Flanigan Matters Bala Umaru said that the meeting would further help to sensitise the groups on the need for peace.
Umaru pointed out that all hands must be on deck to tackle the menace of kidnapping and armed robbery.
The state chairman of the Miyetti Allah, Alhaji Bello Garuba noted that criminality ought not to have been limited to a particular tribe.
Umaru submitted that a criminal is always a criminal irrespective of where he comes from. He however, promised that the herdsmen would continue to maintain peace and cooperate with their landlords and host communities for peaceful co existence.