EXCEPT something urgent is done to arrest the dangerous trend, Ekiti State is fast becoming a feasting zone for kidnappers, as men of the underworld no longer operate on lonely or deserted roads, neither do they limit their scope to those who walk in dark alleys or stay late out from the safety of their homes.
They go after their victims, anyway, anyhow with reckless abandon.
People are being kidnapped from their homes and taken to unknown destinations, traditional rulers and their hallowed palaces have been desecrated.
On the 14th of April, 2021, unknown gunmen stormed the palace of Obadun of Ilemeso-Ekiti, Oba David Oyewumi and without any respect for the traditional ruler, dragged him out of his throne into a waiting car.
They made away with him to an unknown destination, the traditional ruler spent four days in the kidnappers’ den.
Ilemeso-Ekiti is a neighbouring town to Isan and five minutes drive away from the country home of Governor Kayode Fayemi in Oye Local Government Area of the state.
The suspected kidnappers, armed with dangerous weapons, scaled the fence of the palace, sent the people who were in the palace to pay obeisance to the Obadun into different directions as they rent the air with gunfire.
Sources disclosed that the kidnappers, after gaining entrance into the palace, went straight to the bungalow housing the monarch and his family members.
Barely 23 days after the abduction of Obadun of Ilemeso-Ekiti; the Elewu of Ewu-Ekiti, Oba Adetutu Ajayi, in Ilejemeje Local Government Area of the state, was shot by suspected gunmen while returning from a journey to his hometown.
The monarch escaped by the whiskers from the scene but had gunshot injuries and was hospitalised in a private hospital in Ado-Ekiti for two weeks before being flown out of the state by members of his family for further medical attention.
The monarch, on a fateful day before the incident, was travelling in his official car to the neighbouring Ayetoro Ekiti in Ido/Osin Local Government when the gunmen waved him down and started raining bullets on his car.
The bullets which rattled his car also hit him on the legs, arms and stomach.
Another ugly incident that confirmed the thinking in some quarters that traditional rulers in the state are fast becoming a soft target of kidnappers in recent times was the abduction of Eleda of Eda-Ile in Ekiti East Local Government Area of Ekiti State, Oba Benjamin Adeniran Osho.
Oba Adeniran Osho was said to have been kidnapped in the presence of his only wife while returning from their farm at Eda-Ile, after a heavy downpour in the area.
Barely 24 hours after the abduction of the monarch, a source who craved anonymity told journalists in Ado Ekiti that the monarch and the wife would have been kidnapped, but for pleading made by the traditional ruler.
The source said: “The Oba and his wife went to a farm and were accosted by these gunmen on their way back home. The two would have been kidnapped, but the monarch begged the bandits to free his wife, which they did.
“N2 million ransom was raised by the family to secure the release of the monarch after spending several days at the kidnappers’ den.”
Monarchs now target of kidnappers—Oba Alabi Shortly after the release of the monarch was secured, the chairman, Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers, Oba Olabanji Alabi, the Alawe of Ilawe issued a release to lament on the level of insecurity in Ekiti State and the country at large.
The first-class monarch who lamented over the situation, however, charged the government to redouble its effort by improving on the security architecture in the state.
The traditional ruler also led some of his colleagues to the office of the Deputy Governor of the state in company of the chairman of Oye Local Government, Mr. Foluso Ojo, to seek the government’s support for improved security in their domains.
The monarch particularly made mention of his members who were recently abducted by kidnappers in their palaces and those accosted on the road as worrisome and called on the federal and state governments to intensify effort in ensuring the security of lives and property in the state.
The Onisan of Isan Ekiti, Oba Ayodele Adejuwon, said there is need for deployment of more security personnel to carry out a sustained and coordinated show of force in communities in the state.
Oba Adejuwon drew the government’s attention to challenges facing the Police and Civil Defence formations in the state especially the lack of operational vehicles which have made the Obas engage the services of local hunters.
Similarly, the Oloye of Oye Ekiti, Oba Oluwole Ademolaju, and the Alafon of Ilafon Ekiti, Oba Akin Owoeye asked the government to identify the black spots used by suspected kidnappers across the state to be busted as early as possible to nip criminality in the bud.
We’re collaborating with security agencies —Ekiti govt
Responding, the Deputy Governor of the state, Mr. Bisi Egbeyemi, expressed the readiness of the Ekiti State Government to collaborate with security agencies to comb forests and other dark spots in a renewed bid to tackle kidnapping and other criminal activities in the state.
While sympathising with the royal fathers on the kidnap of their colleagues, the Deputy Governor emphasized that the government, security agencies and residents have much to do with intelligence gathering and consciousness on the movement of strange people in their localities.
On his part, the Owa Ooye of Okemesi Ekiti, Oba Adedeji Gbadebo, suggested the use of traditional African medicine to tackle the menace.
The monarch, who described the traditional method as the only alternative way to curb insecurity in the country, explained that Nigerians have so long abandoned the use of traditional charms and African traditional power, the move which he described as the main cause of the rise in insecurity in the country.
In another kidnap saga, a farmer Mr. Josiah Isah was kidnapped in the presence of his family on his farm along Ikere/Ise road.
The kidnappers told the family to go home and look for money to secure the release of the farmer.
The family of the farmer was said to have raised N800,000 before they could release the farmer.
Aside from those mentioned above, other prominent figures who have suffered the same fate in the hands of kidnappers are the wife of the late Auditor-General of the state, Mrs. Funmilola Osalusi; former Ekiti Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Folorunso Olabode, an Ekiti West councillor, an aide to the Speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly and so many others.
Were raiding black spots, combing forests—Police
While speaking on the matter, the Ekiti State Police Command, regretted the various incidents, despite the rigorous joint patrol, raiding of black spots and combing of forests by its men to dislodge criminals.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Babatunde Mobayo said he had issued a directive that the combined forces of Police, Amotekun Corps, Vigilante groups, local hunters, chiefs, drivers union, motorcycle riders, farmers and other stakeholders should carry out a joint operation being diligently observed simultaneously across the 16 local government areas before the gunmen struck.
Mobayo said: “Some unknown gunmen mischievously defied the operation, came out and attacked the Elewu of Ewu, Oba Adetutu Ajayi while he was on transit between Ewu-Ekiti and Ayetoro-Ekiti at about 1900hrs.”
However, it appeared that efforts of the security agencies in the state are beginning to yield fruits with the arrest and parade of suspected kidnappers, who were students of a privately-owned Polytechnic in Odo-Ekiti, a suburb of Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State.
According to the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO of the command, Mr. Sunday Abutu, an Assistant Superintendent of Police ASP, they were arrested by the officers of Rapid Respond Squad, RSS, attached to the command following the abduction of one Akiode Akinyemi who is also a student of the polytechnic.