By Dapo Akinrefon, Sam Eyoboka, Ben Agande & Demola Akinyemi
LAGOS—NATIONAL Christian Elders Forum, NCEF, has challenged governors to set up state police organizations in the fashion of the Hisbah Corps, established by Kano State government to enforce laws of the state in Sharia courts as a way of checkmating rising insecurity in the country.
This is even as the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, yesterday, slammed heads of security agencies over their inability to address the high level of insecurity in the country, saying they were either incompetent or bankrupt of ideas.
These came at a time four Turkish nationals were on Saturday night, kidnapped by a six-man armed gang at a local drinking joint in Gbale village, Edu Local Government Area of Kwara State.
The NCEF has in its fold Solomon Asemota, SAN, the chairman; former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Theophilus Danjuma, retd; Major-General Zamani Lekwot, retd; and Lt-General Joshua Dongoyaro, retd, among others.
The group’s position came against the backdrop of recent killing of Mrs. Funke Olakunri, daughter of leader of Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, on Ore-Benin highway.
National Christian elders
In a statement personally signed by Chief Asemota, the group said: “We are shocked with much sorrow and bewilderment because what affects one, affects all.
“We also seize this opportunity to call on Ondo State Government and the governments of other states of the federation who are experiencing similar security challenges to use their instruments of office to establish state-recognized Police similar to Hisbah Police established by Kano State government.
“Hisbah was established for the purpose of monitoring and enforcing Sharia but rather, it assumed state police that can complement the efforts of the Nigeria Police Force to ensure the protection of lives and properties.
‘’The protection of lives and properties of all is the primary reason the governors were voted into office and in return, they swore to defend the people and above all, to halt the promotion of one country, two systems.
“May God continue to keep and protect Pa Reuben Fasoranti, as his work is unfinished, all members of Afenifere and the entire Yoruba nation for a greater tomorrow.’’
Alaafin writes Buhari, blasts security chiefs
Similarly, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, yesterday, slammed heads of security agencies over their inability to address the parlous state of insecurity, saying they are either incompetent or bankrupt of ideas.
The traditional ruler also expressed worry over the activities of marauding herdsmen in the South-West, warning that Yoruba people have what it takes to defend themselves and interests against all enemy attacks.
Oba Adeyemi said this in an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, titled: “Yoruba question in Nigeria conundrum.”
The monarch, who lamented the inability of heads of the security agencies to nip the security challenges bedeviling the country in the bud, said: “This is a serious national emergency, when Fulani herdsmen are engaged in criminality all over the country and the sitting federal government seems helpless and generally unperturbed by what is going on in the security organizations.
“There is no doubt that some leaders of these security organizations are either incompetent or bankrupt of ideas. Some are even compromised to take any decisive actions against criminals.”
Besides, he warned that the level of insecurity posed a direct threat and imminent danger to living in Nigeria, adding that it was capable of “de-robing the country in the comity of nations and passing it off as uncivilized and barbaric.”
He continued: “Let me start since your first inauguration in 2015 as President and Commander-in-Chief of the country, I have never been timid or shy of my total support for the success of your administration to deliver the country to the Promised Land. My confidence had always been based on Your Excellency’s ability, fitness, and competence in leading the country, to the Promised Land, where Law and Order prevail, individual liberty is guaranteed, and the economic well-being of the citizens is assured.
“That my confidence in Your Excellency remains unshaken to date. In recent time, however, I am worried about the security situation in the country, especially in the South West geo-political zone, nay the entire Yoruba speaking area of the country including Kwara, Kogi, and Edo States.
“This has to do with the incessant and increasing menace of Fulani herdsmen that have laid siege in almost all the highways of Yoruba land. Whether in Owo, Akure, Ilesa/Ife-Ibadan road or Ibarapa zone and Ijebu area of Ogun State, the story is the same.
“I have held series of consultations with opinion moulders and eminent Yoruba leaders across the board about the menace of these herdsmen with such assault like raping of our women and in some occasions, in the presence of their husbands. That is apart from the massive destruction of our agricultural lands; which ultimately points to imminent starvation.
“On top of it all is the menace of professional kidnappers usually in military uniforms. What is more worrisome about the kidnapping notoriety is what looks like impunity which these kidnappers enjoy their nefarious activities. After due consultations with Yoruba leaders and as the pre-colonial head of the Yoruba nation, we are worried by the audacity of these lawless people in effecting their illegal acts in broad daylight on our usually bushy highways without any arm of security being able to do anything. Worse still is the confidence with which they demand ransoms and collect such illegal levies at designated spots without any arm of security being able to lay siege to them as it was the practice in the recent past.
“Now, we cannot even talk of parading suspects, when in actual sense, no major arrests have been made in this part of the country. Without arrests, we cannot talk of their facing the law. Unfortunately, and painfully indeed, in the face of the apparent helplessness of our security agencies, where do we go from here?
Resort to self help
“It is at the wake of this manifest frustration of our people that our people have found it unavoidable, even though reluctantly to resort to alternative measures to safeguard their lives and property. Suffice to say that in the most part of Yoruba land, their pre-colonial military structures have not been totally collapsed. Hence, such structures like Oodua People’s Congress, Agbekoya and other vigilante groups.
“Having stated the above, and having established my premise as a stakeholder in your administration in the firm belief that we all believe in the Nigeria project, kindly permit me, Mr. President, to make the following points and submissions as the Alaafin of Oyo, the King and Head of all Yoruba at home and in the diaspora and the Chief Custodian of Yoruba culture and values.
“The people of Yoruba land in the traditional six State of the South-West geo-political zone and extending to some parts of Kogi, Kwara and Edo State live in palpable fear because of the new wave of insecurity of life and property they now witness on a daily basis and which is alien to them. This new uncomplimentary development is not unrelated to the new wave of criminal activities usually associated with banditry, armed robbery and lately, kidnapping and rape of genuinely innocent and law-abiding citizens. I remember when these nefarious activities were first noticed in Oyo/Oke Ogun area of Oyo State, I took proactive steps to stem the tide and to amicably normalize relations between farmers and herders. Our initiative succeeded because we were dealing with genuine farmers and herders who had a commitment to Nigeria and who were interested in promoting their economic activities in a peaceful, prosperous and united Nigeria.
“However, it is becoming obvious that the nature and character of banditry and kidnapping today are different from what they used to be. Today, it is not merely infraction in the course of doing business, but a blatant and criminal violation of the constitutional right to life and liberty of innocent citizens of Yoruba land. A few publicly known instances will suffice.
“There are many other instances of kidnapping, raid, rape, and banditry not publicly known but which were reported to the Police and other law enforcement organizations.
“As ugly as the picture above seems to be, the people of Yoruba land have remained generally peaceful and have resisted concerted efforts to push them into civil disobedience or adopting self-help mechanisms to protect themselves in their homeland. They have demonstrated confidence in you and in your ability to stem the tide of these criminal activities. Yoruba have been restrained from believing the new found Islamization or Fulanization theory.
“I am therefore writing to you, as a concerned stakeholder in your administration, to alert you and demonstrate to you, the urgency of the need to quickly respond to these and other issues concerning Yoruba land. There is a general impression among opposition group that you are not known to take decisive and proactive steps in many matters of national interest and that you are not usually too disturbed about the gale of insecurity in Yoruba land.
“May I also share with you the outcome or product of my wide consultations in Yoruba land to let you know, beyond what official security reports will make available to you, that there is a growing feeling of frustration, disappointment, and despondency among our people, which if not immediately addressed, could lead to other serious national catastrophes and security challenges. The present state of insecurity is posing enormous challenges to people’s engagements in other economic activities. The incessant and increasing menace on our highways and farms in Yoruba land is making farming and other economic activities hazardous and dangerous. I recall with sadness that the Old Oyo Empire disintegrated because the slave trade introduced insecurity that made all other economic activities which had supported and enhanced the prosperity of Oyo to decline. It is never my wish that any part of Nigeria will ever go through this harrowing experience again.
Reign of terror on Yoruba land
“Apart from the massive destruction of farms and crops planted on them, the new wave of Fulani, pretending and disguising as herders have unleashed a reign of terror on Yoruba land. They destroy crops; they kidnap men and women, violate and rape our women, right in the presence of their husbands. What this portends is definitely more than the simplistic interpretation of farmer/herder clash but the deliberate acts of hostility and criminality. What makes it worrisome is the fact that for reasons best known to the Police establishment, they have not been apprehending or pretend to be in the defense of victims. There is always a tendency to blame the victims and demonstrate helplessness in apprehending and bringing perpetrators to book to face the full wrath of the law.
“It is even said, Mr. President that these criminal pseudo herders go about their nefarious activities in broad daylight and many times in military uniform. They carry sophisticated weapons, the likes of which are only available to state actors.
Security apparatus overstretched and rustic
“There seems to be no doubt that the security apparatus of the country is both overstretched and rustic. The philosophy of policing the State, protecting life and property and ensuring the existence of atmosphere that is conducive to life and living in Nigeria is lost on the security personnel. In Yoruba land, we are scared and worried about the outrageous audacity and effrontery of these criminal elements in carrying out their activities and without any challenge by security operatives. In a situation where money exchanged hands, the Police are adequately equipped to trace every paper money issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria. Intelligence gathering concerning money paid as ransom should lead, finally to these criminals since they would eventually make transactions with the proceeds of their illicit and criminal activities.
“As no major arrest of Fulani pseudo herdsmen has been made till date in Yoruba land, suspects cannot be paraded, let alone arraigned. Even threatened a sitting traditional ruler and asked him to comply with certain directives go about as if they are indeed above the law and beyond arrest. It is unheard of that the State could be seemingly helpless in the face of these criminal assaults on its integrity and capacity to carry out the most sacred of its mandate; preserving life and property.
“Mr. President, let me assure you that the Yoruba people traditionally have what it takes to defend themselves and interests against all enemy attacks. What is of immediate concern is the possibility of these traditional self-help mechanisms of defense to conflict with the legal and constitutional framework of the security organizations. This is indeed my greatest fear, recluse the situation is fast degenerating into what could trigger a complete breakdown of law and order under a constitutional state arrangement. Thus latent frustration must be nipped in the bud to avert a breakdown of the state system in Yoruba land. I am aware that members of the Oodua People’s Congress scattered all over the world are already being mobilized to stand in the defence of their land and are ready, willing and able to raise an army of volunteers as was done in 1968 by the Agbekoya.
“It is trite saying that a stitch in time saves nine. For me, and relying on ancient wisdom, the dilemma of a possible breakdown of state authority and power could still be managed and the slide to anarchy arrested. Historically, and even now, ethnic relations between the Yoruba and the Fulani had been managed adroitly through excellent statesmanship and participatory administration of inter-ethnic group relations. I have had many instances of settling farmer/herder disagreements in my Palace to the extent of instituting workable modalities for inter-communal conflict management and peace building. What is strange is the new wave of criminally-minded Fulani groups. What is again disappointing is the ease with which these criminals will leave our country should there be anarchy in the land. They have other places to return to, but Nigerians don’t have another country apart from here.
“This is a serious national emergency when Fulani herdsmen are engaged in criminality all over the country and the sitting federal government seems helpless and generally unperturbed by what is going on in the security organizations. There is no doubt that some leaders of these security organizations are either incompetent or bankrupt of ideas. Some are even compromised to take any decisive actions against criminals. What we are witnessing in Nigeria is an anomaly because it is inconceivable that in the 21st century, when the whole world is making appreciable progress in providing an enhanced standard of living, Nigerians will be living under the fear of banditry, brigandage, rape, kidnapping, and terrorism.
“Insecurity is posing a direct threat and imminent danger of living in Nigeria. It is capable of de-robing the country in the comity of nations and passing it off as uncivilized and barbaric.
“As more and more countries issue travel restrictions to Nigeria and parts thereof, it is just a matter of time for Nigeria to lose whatever gains it has made in repositioning itself for more decisive participation in the international system. I trust that you will not allow this to happen and will quickly and decisively take immediate steps to re-establish confidence in your government and demonstrate the capacity of the state to protect all legitimate interests.
“I wish you God’s guidance, courage, and wisdom to do what is right, appropriate and necessary to build the Nigeria of our dreams, where no ethnic group is oppressed or taken for granted.
“While urging you to take out time to read and consider this letter as coming from a stakeholder in your administration, I wish to assure you of the warmest regards of the Royal stool.”
Four Turkish nationals kidnapped
In a related development, four Turkish expatriates were, weekend, kidnapped by a six-man armed gang at a local drinking joint in Gbale village, Edu LG area of Kwara State.
Vanguard reliably gathered that the incident occurred at about 10pm Saturday night while the men were having fun at the local joint in Gbale village.
The abducted men were later identified as Yasin Colak (33); Senerapal (40); Ergun Yurdakul (35); and Seyit Keklik (25).
The victims are said to be expatriates working with Istanbul Concrete Limited, Gbale, in Kwara State.
Reliable sources told Vanguard that six men from the village, armed with cutlasses and local guns, had stormed the joint and shot sporadically into the air to disperse people in the area.
Having successfully dispersed the people in the joint and neighbours, and threatened them with cutlasses, they were said to have immediately taken the expatriates into the bush.
Vanguard gathered that residents in Gbale community now live in palpable fear as a result of the sad development.
Information on the incident which had immediately spread around the state, created panic among the residents, particularly the expatriates living in the state who now live in palpable fear.
When Vanguard visited the community, yesterday, afternoon, residents were seen discussing the incident in groups.
The community head was said not to be around at the time of the visit.
An elderly man who craved anonymity, however, told Vanguard that such a development had never happened in the community before now.
“We never had this kind of incident here, so this came like a surprise to us because over the decades we have been living in peace here,”he said.
Contacted, spokesman of Kwara State police command, DSP Ajayi Okasanmi, confirmed the incident, saying the Commissioner of Police, Ag. CP Kayode Egbetokun, has dispatched combined teams of professionals to the area to commence immediate rescue operation and ensure that the expatriates were rescued alive and the hoodlums arrested.
He said: “We are optimistic that all the four expatriates would be rescued alive by our men by the grace of God.
“Already, the commissioner of police has ordered officers of Anti-Cultism unit, men of Operation Puff Adder and those of Anti Human Trafficking unit to swing into action and comb all the area to rescue the expatriates alive and also arrest the hoodlums The operation is ongoing and we are optimistic, as I said earlier. We will update you as soon as possible.”
Abduction: Governor Abdulrazaq calls for calm
Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, yesterday, called for calm following the abduction of some Turkish nationals in Edu local government area of the state.
According to a press statement by his Chief press secretary, Rafiu Ajakaiye, ”the Governor is working closely with the security agencies to ensure prompt rescue of the expatriates.
“The Governor urges the people to go about their normal and lawful businesses and not to entertain any fear, as doing so may embolden the criminals behind the development.”