By Dayo Johnson, Henry Umoru & Dennis Agbo
AKURE—Angry reactions, yesterday, continued to trail killing of daughter of Afenifere leader, Mrs. Olufunke Olakunri, by herders along Benin-Ore highway, as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the Federal Government will explore all options, including deploying soldiers on the nation’s highways to address the spate of insecurity challenges across the country.
This came as apex Igbo socio-political organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said Nigeria was descending into anarchy, considering the high level of insecurity in the country.
Similarly, National Leader of All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, warned against stigmatising herdsmen in the country, saying it could divide the nation.
Also, PRONACO and Project Nigeria called on the Federal Government to urgently convene a national dialogue and security summit to address the high level of insecurity in the country.
Family of the Yoruba leader also, yesterday, insisted that Mrs. Olakunrin, the 58-year-old mother of two was shot dead by herdsmen who had attempted to kidnap her and other three occupants in her Black Land Cruiser SUV marked LAGOS AAA 147 FM, thus controverting the position of the Commissioner of Police in the state, who stated that it was erroneous to say herdsmen launched the attack.
Soldiers’ll be deployed on highways — Osinbajo
The Vice President spoke during a condolence visit to Pa Fasoranti in Akure yesterday,
Osinbajo, accompanied by Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, lamented that people make money from kidnapping because its largely economic gains.
He said: “The Federal Government will explore all options, including deploying soldiers on the highways, towards addressing the growing cases of security challenges in Nigeria.
“As you know, I am here to commiserate with the families of Olakunri and Pa Reuben Fasoranti. This is a massive tragedy as you can imagine. We have seen it replicated here and there, which is kidnapping and killings.
“As you all know, the President has very recently met not only the service chiefs but also the IGP and he has laid out a new policy of community policing.
“One of the most important things in this sort of crime because that are largely economic crimes is that people try to make money by kidnapping.
“One of the most important things is intelligence gathering; that is why we have the community policing system where policemen would be trained in their own local government and they would remain there.
“This is as close as we get to the community policing structure that we expect to have. The other thing, of course, is that we also are engaging the Army so that there will be a bit of more military presence, especially along the roads.
“The Inspector-General of Police has already committed to ensuring that there is full coverage of the police and even helicopters to fasten the search for these killers and also to ensure that there is adequate presence to deter this kind of terrible situation from recurring.
“We are looking at the whole security architecture and trying to ensure that we are able to scale up and ensure that we are able to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians.
“Security in a big country as Nigeria is dynamic and we also have to be consistently dynamic to ensure that we are able to beat the challenges as they appear.
“I think that we can be very hopeful that we would see peace and calm as some of the steps we are taking come to fruition. You know also we meet with the governors in South West and in the different zones and everybody is coming to ensure that security is adequate and that everyone feels safe and secure.”
Reacting to the killing yesterday, Ohanaeze Ndigbo in a statement signed by the President-General, Nnia Nwodo, said: “News reached Ohanaeze Ndigbo yesterday of the heartless murder of the daughter of Pa Reuben Fasoranti, Mrs. Funke Olakunri, on her way from Ekiti to Lagos by suspected herdsmen.
“We offer Chief Fasoranti and the entire Yoruba the heartfelt sympathies of Ndigbo.
The continuous rampaging, plunder, rape, kidnapping and murder of innocent Nigerians by armed herdsmen have climbed to a most worrisome crescendo.
“The inability of our security forces to disarm and prosecute these criminals gives credibility to a growing story of collusion.
Recently, the British High Commission in an advisory to British citizens in Nigeria, declared 24 of our states unsafe.
“In the midst of these killings, their parent organization has the effrontery to give ultimatum to the President of Nigeria to rescind his unpopular suspension, instead of cancellation of his RUGA development policy.
“Such inciting, provocative and treasonable outbursts have only been greeted with an advice that they should respect the Presidency and an unrelenting resolve to force Nigerians to accommodate such murderers in their homes under a policy that violates our constitution and all laws and court judgments relating to land use administration.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo warns that this latest murder is capable of throwing our country into uncontrollable breakdown of law and order.
“The hasty conclusion by the Federal Government that she was killed by armed robbers and not the suspected herdsmen, who are known to have laid siege to all parts of the country perpetrating acts of banditry and killings, further exacerbates the already tense situation.
“We call on eminent leaders of this nation in spite of their political persuasions to come together in an urgent national security conference to discuss measures that will arrest the extant drift to lawlessness.”
Don’t stigmatize herdsmen — Tinubu
Speaking to reporters in Akure after paying condolence visit to Pa Fasoranti, Tinubu, who was accompanied by former Osun State governor, Bisi Akande, said: “We must not use this incident to divide ourselves but we must use it as a cure to the security problem.
“I am extremely concerned about security; I don’t want a stigma, I can go through history of kidnapping in Nigeria and we know how and where it all started; there are a lot of copycats.
“How many years ago have we faced the insecurity in the country? There are cases of kidnapping. Is Evans who was arrested and made disclosures also a herdsman?.
“I don’t want to be political, but I will ask, where are the cows? I am a nationalist and the security concern and challenge must be faced squarely throughout Nigeria.
“The incident that affected one member of our family, Mrs Olakunrin, is seriously saddening, and unacceptable but nobody can return her alive, she has answered the call of her Creator.
“We must not use this incident to divide ourselves but we must use it as a cure to the security problem. Additional police, additional patrols, and additional security reinforcement along Ore road and various flash points across the country are necessary and I have discussed this with the various authorities. The Ondo State governor is eminently aware and being proactive about this.
“The security challenges are numerous across this country and to fight it, more policemen are being recruited and it takes time to train and deploy them to various areas, nobody prepares more than necessary for this.
“But if you look at Zamfara, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti and all areas, then we need to fight poverty, unemployment and the causes that might lead people to crime.
“Equally, we must create opportunity to convert this tragedy to prosperity. Funke was very close to me and she died a premature death. Only four or five days ago, we chatted and I know what she discussed with me and about Baba’s health conditions. We just pray that this will not happen again.”
Police: Killers were bandits; you’re wrong, they’re herdsmen, family insists
Meanwhile, the family of the Yoruba leader disagreed with the police authorities in the state yesterday that the attack that led to Mrs. Olakunri’s death was a robbery case and not that of herdsmen.
While the state Police Commissioner, Udie Adie, insisted that those who killed Olakunri were bandits and not herdsmen, the family insisted otherwise.
Adie said: “All we know is that these are bandits that came to the road and started firing sporadically at motorists that were driving on the highway. That is what it is, there is no person that can say specifically that they were herdsmen. What we know is that they are bandits and we are going after them.”
But speaking with newsmen at the ljapo residence of the Yoruba leader, his son, Kehinde Fasoranti, disagreed with the police chief.
Kehinde, a pharmacist and younger brother of the deceased, accused the police chief of lying regarding the profile of the attackers.
He said: “At the police station in Ore town, shortly after the incident, I was told by officers on duty that those who operated and shot Mrs. Olakunrin were Fulani herdsmen.
“We need to get the story straight. The way they operated, according to what the police said in Ore, is the way Fulani herdsmen operate.
“Six people were in front shooting at them. The driver put the car in reverse but unknown to him, some men were in the bush and started shooting at the car.
“The story that these are just bandits is a lie. If you want records, request the report I made at Ore police station. They categorically said the attackers were Fulani herdsmen.
“It’s about time we stood up and fought back. Nobody is protecting us. Eventually, they will come inside houses and kidnap people.
“Enough is enough. We can’t continue like this. I want the police to retract what they said. They (attackers) are Fulani herdsmen.”
Time something was done about killings — PDP
Equally reacting to the killing, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the South West expressed concern over security concerns in the region.
A statement issued by its Zonal Publicity Secretary Ayo Fadaka, in Akure, read: ‘’ The party expresses its concern on the continuing carnage and wanton destruction of lives in the South West by criminals of Fulani extraction, now commonly referred to as Fulani herdsmen and now declare that it is time something urgent and cogent was done on this malaise forthwith.
“We, therefore, take due notice of the murder of Mrs Olufunke Olakunri, daughter of Yoruba leader, Pa Ruben Fasoranti, and thus declare this insult on the Yoruba nation is getting exacerbated.
“This murder possesses a potential devastating effect on the nation as it has further reinforced the fear and distrust of the Yoruba for the immediate future of our nation and its security management which has clearly declined and deteriorated massively under the current dispensation.
“We also want to reiterate that the Yoruba nation is currently under siege as criminal elements from elsewhere have invaded our land, killing, raping and unduly oppressing us with agencies of state constitutionally saddled with responsibilities to protect us not doing enough to manage this crisis in the South West.
“That the murder of Olufunke is the first high profile one committed by these criminals, we hereby affirm that thousands of such murders have been committed by these same criminal herdsmen across the South West with no attendant repercussions on these criminal bands by agencies of government;
“That Yoruba people are enraged about these developments and believe that there exist plans to pursue ethnic cleansing in our nation. Due notice is constantly given to the fact that leadership of the Yoruba nation continues to be targeted by these criminal elements who once kidnapped Chief Olu Falae and attacked palaces, thereby desecrating and assaulting our corporate heritage as a people.”
APC consoles Pa Fasoranti, tasks security agencies
In a similar vein, the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state consoled with Pa Fasoranti, challenging security agencies on surveillance.
A statement by the state Publicity Secretary, Alex Kalejaye, in Akure said: “It is our belief that the nonagenarian deserves a better deal from a society he served with all vigour and commitment. Only a divine consolation could tranquilize the devastating effect created by the wicked act.
“The state chapter is hopeful that the needless killing of Mrs. Olukunrin would trigger a deeper duty-bound concern among security stakeholders to fish out the agents of the harbingers of this unimaginable pains.
“We also expect security agencies to do more in the area of surveillance and intelligence gathering to justify governments’ monthly investments on security concerns. Travelling on our highways should be made safer.
“It is also imperative to challenge security agencies to do their utmost in ensuring that other hapless souls languishing in various evil camps are liberated.
“We wish to remind all stakeholders that security is pivotal to the overall well being of any society. Infrastructure development and efforts on economy can only add value if citizens are well secured.”
PRONACO, PNM condemn killing
In their reactions, statesmen and leaders, under the aegis of top pan-Nigerian groups, the Pro National Conference Organisations, PRONACO, and the Project Nigeria Movement, PNM, have condemned the killing of Mrs Funke Olakunrin and called for an urgent national political dialogue.
Describing the murder as dastardly, wicked and ungodly, both groups said the murder was unacceptable and unbearable, as it was capable of aggravating the already tensed situation in the South West and foisting unwanted civil strife on the country.
“We, therefore, strongly call on President Muhammadu Muhammadu, Chairman of the Governors Forum, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, and National Leader of the ruling APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, among others, to urgently put a strong machinery in motion for national political engagements to prevent a breakdown of law and order over the cruel and criminal killings in Southwest by armed Fulani robbers and bandits,” the two groups said in a statement signed by their joint spokesman, Olawale Okunniyi.
Beyond the call to the President and others, PRONACO and PNM notified their allied national leaders, statesmen and heads of nationality and self-determination groups about a possible emergency political convergence next week.
They commiserated with the Afenifere leader and prayed for “divine fortitude” for those who have lost loved ones to banditry and kidnapping in the country.
PRONACO is a pan-Nigerian movement initiated under the leadership of the late Chief Anthony Enahoro and Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, to find solutions to the nation’s challenges, while Project Nigeria Movement is a coalition of civil society groups, led by respected Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ben Nwabueze.
Fish out the killers, Senate tasks IGP
Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday asked the Inspector- General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu to fish out the killers of Mrs. Olakunrin, daughter of Afenifere leader and elder statesman, Pa Reuben Fasoranti.
In a statement signed yesterday by the Chairman, Senate Ad-hoc committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Adedayo Adeyeye, in Abuja yesterday, the Senate said the IGP must ensure the perpetrators of the gruesome killing were apprehended and prosecuted.
The Senate, while condoling with the family of Afenifere leader, described the gruesome killing of Mrs Olakunrin as sad, devastating, barbaric and a worrisome development.
The statement read: “The National Assembly (Senate) is disturbed by the spare of incessant attacks and wanton killings of citizens by herdsmen, hired assassins, kidnappers and other men of the underworld that are having a field day in wreaking havoc on the life and properties of innocent citizens in the country. How have we gone this bad?
“Security to life, the Senate emphasizes, is a fundamental right of every citizen. Therefore, Nigerians deserve this inalienable right from the government all the time.
“While condemning this heinous and barbaric act, the Senate urges the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to begin massive manhunt for the killers of Late Mrs Funke Olakunri and ensure that the perpetrators of this gruesome killing are apprehended.
“Also, measures to prevent future occurrence of such incidence should be put in place by improving the security architecture on Nigerian highways, social gatherings and worship centres across the country.
“The Senate will cooperate with the executive and create enabling legislative environment towards solving this security crisis in the country. It will consider favourably every appropriation request from the executive targeted at strengthening security in the country.
“The Senate further extends its condolences to the elder statesman, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, and the entire family. And pray God will console and be with the entire family in this hour of bereavement.”