LAGOS: In Ekiti State, gunmen posing as herdsmen abducted six students, three teachers, and the driver of a private school bus on Monday night.
They Were Abducted While Returning From Eporo-Ekiti On The School Bus.
Their kidnap came barely hours after two monarchs, the Onimojo of Imojo in Oye Local Government Area, Oba Olatunde Olusola, and the Elesun of Esun Ekiti in Ikole Local Government Area, Oba Babatunde Ogunsakin were killed by gunmen along Ipao-Oke Ako Road while their colleague, the Alara of Ara Ekiti, Oba Adebayo Fatoba in Ikole Local Government Area, managed to escape.
It was gathered that the kidnapped pupils were students of Apostolic Nursery and Primary School, Emure-Ekiti in Ekiti State.
Kidnappers Of Ekiti School Children Demand N30m Ransom
Abductors of school children contacted the families of their victims, demanding N30 million as ransom to release the five pupils and other victims.
A source close to the family of one of the children, said the kidnappers reached out to them yesterday evening, asking for N30 million naira in exchange for the freedom of their victims.
Police Arrest 5 Kidnap Suspects
In a related development, the joint operation team of Ekiti State Police Command, Amotekun, OPC, Civil Defence and Local Hunters, also yesterday arrested five suspected kidnappers while in the bush combing operation through Oke-Osun, Ikere/Igbo-Okah to the thick forest around Iju/Ikere boundary.
During interrogation, the suspects, who claimed to be herdsmen, were found with two motorcycles, one cutlass, one jack knife/dagger and four phones.
They include Usman Jelili, Mohammed Bande, Abubakar Aliu, Isah Abdulahi and Suleiman Abdulahi.
On the slain traditional rulers, sources said they were returning from a function in Kogi State when their vehicles ran into the suspected kidnappers who had laid an ambush.
According to sources, as the bandits chased Alara in a bid to kidnap him, the two other monarchs also attempted to escape but were shot by the gunmen.
Chairman of the Ajoni Local Council Development Area, Micheal Ogungbemi, in whose domain the incident took place, said the corpses of the two monarchs had been recovered from the scene and taken to a mortuary.
He confirmed that the traditional rulers were coming from Kogi State when they were attacked in the Oke Ako area.
Vanguard gathered yesterday that tension was brewing in the communities of the two monarchs killed by the gunmen with a source saying that the people might be forced to arm themselves against herdsmen in the state, as those suspected to have killed the monarchs were herdsmen.
The sad incidents elicited an immediate response from Governor Biodun Oyebanji, who urged Ekiti residents not to despair over the kidnapping of the school pupils and their teachers as security had been stepped up to rescue them.
President Bola Tinubu ordered the security agencies to rescue those abducted, vowing that the killers of the traditional rulers would not escape justice.
In response to the clarion call, the Ekiti and Ondo Police commands have launched a joint rescue operation.
Nothing’ll Be Spared To Rescue Them – Oyebanji
In a statement, Governor Oyebanji described the kidnap as callous and unacceptable, saying nothing would be spared in efforts to rescue the children and their teachers.
“Security agencies in the state are already on the trail of the abductors with a mandate to bring the pupils and their teachers back safely,” he said
The governor said security is being stepped up across the state to flush out criminal elements from their hideouts.
While calling on the citizens to remain calm and vigilant, he urged them to cooperate with security agencies, by making available relevant information to the authorities.’’
He pledged a swift and comprehensive rescue operation to ensure the safe return of the abducted children.
Ekiti, Ondo Police launch joint rescue operation
Speaking with newsmen in Ado-Ekiti, the Police Public Relation Officer, PPRO, Sunday Abutu, stated that the command in Ekiti and their counterpart in Ondo have launched a search and rescue operation in the area the incidents took place and adjourning forest to rescue the 10 kidnapped victims.
He added that other sister agencies had equally joined the operation to bring the kidnapped victims home to their families and also apprehend the bandits responsible for the heinous crime.
On the killing of monarchs, Abutu said: “It was a case of suspected murder, adding that necessary action is underway as tactical and intelligence teams have been deployed to that axis to unravel the killers and bring them to book.”
Ekiti Students Hold Peace Walk
Meanwhile, the Federation of Ekiti State Students’ Union, FESSU, held a peaceful walk in Ado-Ekiti, seeking the state government’s intervention to rescue the pupils and restore security.
Speaking with journalists in Ado-Ekiti, National President of FESSU, Comrade Abel Adewale Ajibade, described the incident as pathetic.
“These children were kidnapped in their bus. This is the major reason we are calling on the security forces, media houses, and the government itself to rescue the pupils and bring them back to their comfort zone. Education is our right and if we cannot study in a peaceful environment anymore, then what is our right?” He queried.
Monarchs’ Killers Won’t Escape Justice – Tinubu
Condemning the killing of the two traditional rulers, President Tinubu declared that those behind the dastardly act would not escape justice.
Tinubu in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, condoled with the families and subjects of the traditional rulers, Governor Oyebanji, and the people of Ekiti State on the agonizing development.
He also directed the immediate rescue of pupils and teachers kidnapped around the Eporo-Ekiti area of the state.
“As security of life and property is the primary responsibility of the government, President Tinubu assures Nigerians that the nation’s security architecture is being robustly fortified for better and expected outcomes,” the statement read.
“It is with grief that President Bola Tinubu receives the news of the killing of two traditional rulers in Ekiti State, the Onimojo of Imojo-Ekiti, Oba Olatunde Samuel Olusola, and the Elesun of Esun-Ekiti, Oba David Babatunde Ogunsola.
“President Tinubu condemns this mindless and brutal bloodletting, and pledges that the perpetrators will not escape justice.
“The President condoles with the families and subjects of the traditional rulers, Governor Biodun Oyebanji, and the people of Ekiti State on this deeply agonizing development,” it added.
Ex-Ekiti monarchs’ chairman mourns
Reacting to the killing of the traditional rulers, the Onisan of Isan-Ekiti and the immediate past Chairman of Ekiti Council of Obas, Oba Gabriel Ayodele Adejuwon, described the untimely death of the monarchs as a stark reminder of a challenge they face as a community.
His words: “With heavy hearts, I mourn the tragic loss of our revered Kabiyesis, HRM Oba Olatunji Olusola, the Olumojo of Imojo Ekiti, and HRM Oba Babatunde Ogunsakin, Elesun of Esun Ekiti. Their untimely demise at the hands of armed Fulani bandits is a stark reminder of the challenges we face as a community.
“Olumojo’s courageous advocacy for people’s rights and Elesun’s dedication to development have left indelible marks on our hearts. Their legacies will forever be etched in the annals of our state’s history.
“In condemning these senseless attacks, we stand united against violence and injustice. Let us remember and honor the exemplary lives of these noble leaders. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families and the entire community in this difficult time.”
Seek Help, S-West PDP Tells Oyebanji
In its reaction yesterday, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in Southwest lampooned Governor Oyebanji for the worsening state of insecurity in Ekiti State, advising him to be humble enough to admit failure in administering the state and her resources. In a statement by the Publicity Secretary, Chief Sanya Atofarati, the South-West PDP described the killing of the two monarchs as unfortunate.
“Nigeria has now become a terrible nightmare and an animal republic. Nigerians are now at a state of total confusion and helplessness.
“It has now become imperative for every right thinking citizen of Ekiti State regardless of religious or political affiliation, to compel the Governor not only to tender his resignation but to as well apologise to Ekiti people for his gross incompetence since he took over power in 2022.”
The PDP spokesman said Nigerians have never had it this worse in all facets, while calling on the well meaning Nigerians to help in rescuing the country from those he described as “progressive terrorists.’’
Atiku Asks Tinubu To Step Aside
In like manner, the 2023 Presidential Candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has asked President Tinubu to step aside, if the shoes of governance have proven too big for him.
Atiku, who said this on his X handle @atiku yesterday, mocked the President for embarking on a ‘private’ foreign trip at a time the nation’s capital, Abuja and other parts of the country appeared to be at the mercy of armed kidnapping gangs.
Atiku said: “Tinubu is playing fiddle while Nigeria is drowning in the ocean of insecurity.
“The Commander-in-Chief is on a so-called private visit while kidnappers kill a nursing mother and grandmother in Abuja for failing to pay N90m ransom and two monarchs in Ekiti, among other regular tragedies besetting Nigerians.
“If the shoes are too big for Emilokan, he should step aside. Nigeria does not need another Tourist-in-Chief. The country needs 24/7 leadership to confront the pervasive insecurity and collapsing economy.”
Again, Senate Summons security chiefs for meeting next week
Worried by the state of insecurity caused by multiple crimes, banditry and kidnappings across the country, the Senate has again summoned all the service chiefs to appear before it next week.
The Senate yesterday invoked its earlier resolutions to invite the security chiefs for an interactive session with the Senate, with a view to resolve the insecurity plaguing the country.
Those summoned to appear before by the Senate include the Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa; Chief of Army Staff, General Taoreed Lagbaja; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Hasan Abubakar; and Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun.
Also summoned are Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar; Director General of the Department of State Services, Yusuf Bichi; and the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu.
The resolution of the Senate was sequel to a motion, titled “Spate of insecurity in Nigeria” sponsored by the entire 107 senators that was discussed during an executive session.
According to the Senate, after brainstorming with the security chiefs, the report would be presented to President Tinubu for further action. The senators stressed that the service chiefs must appear because security is everybody’s business, and without security Nigeria as a country cannot make progress. The senators went into a closed door session from 12.20 to 2.25 pm.
Prior to the Executive session, the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Abba Moro, PDP, Benue South, had come up with a point of order, citing Order 41 and 52 on matter of urgent public importance that the people of Agatu where attacked and killed by bandits on January 18, 2024 and their communities taken over by their attackers
At this point, the President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who stepped down discussions on the point of order, said there were up to five similar motions, hence the need for the closed door session to discuss all the motions.
Recall that the Senate had on December 30 December, 2023 summoned the security chiefs to appear before it and provide explanation for the military lapses.
Unfortunately, the meeting did not hold as the senators passed the 2024 Appropriation Bill into law and went for Christmas and New year break from which they resumed plenary yesterday.
After the closed door session, the Leader of the Senate, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, APC, Ekiti Central who read out the resolutions of the 109 Senators, recalled the avalanche of security breaches since the lawmakers went on break and stressed the need to address them decisively.
In his remarks, Senate President Akpabio said: “After the interactive session with the security chiefs, which we agreed should be next week, we would also fix a time to discuss the outcome with Mr President.
“We have a responsibility to collaborate with the executive and contribute our ideas to ensure that our constituents and ourselves, including our children can sleep with two eyes closed.”
Reps to convene security summit, tasks Tinubu on security architecture
Also, the Speaker of the House of Representative, Mr. Tajudeen Abbas, expressed worry over the current rising insecurity across the country.
Addressing members of the House on resumption from the Christmas and New Year break, Abbas urged President Tinubu not to hesitate to change the security chiefs if necessary, to address the security challenges. He, however, commended the President for his directive to the security chiefs to redouble their efforts and address rising insecurity in the country.
He said he was deeply troubled about the rising cases of insecurity, including kidnapping in Abuja and other parts of the country as well as the attack by bandits on communities in Plateau State leading to the death of several persons.
He said: “In these trying times, President Bola Tinubu has exhibited exemplary leadership and a proactive approach. His recent interventions and directives for more action by security agencies are timely and reflective of his deep-seated resolve to restore peace and order. Indeed, the time has come for the President to demand greater performance and accountability from our service chiefs and all security and enforcement agencies. I implore the President not to shy away from making the tough decisions. If necessary, we must not hesitate to enact changes within our security apparatus, for the cost of inaction is far too great to bear.”
Abbas further stated that in light of the challenges, the House will propose convening a National Legislative Security Summit. The Summit, he said will serve as a crucible for ideas, where stakeholders from diverse sectors – security, traditional and religious institutions, academia, civil society, and more – will forge enduring solutions to our security woes.
He charged all the relevant security-based Committees of this House to engage with the security chiefs on some of the most immediate measures and resources needed to improve security across the country.
Over 180 Kidnapped In Abuja, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Kogi, Niger In One Month
No fewer than 180 persons were kidnapped in the FCT and adjourning states by bandits and herdsmen between December 2023 and this month.
Aside from the FCT, other states affected include Kaduna, Nasarawa, Kogi and Niger. Before December, 2023 there was no kidnapping incident reported in Abuja for about 10 months.
But from December 2023 till date, over 180 people have been kidnapped Abuja, Kaduna, Niger and Nasarawa states
In January, a man and six of his daughters were kidnapped in a home invasion in the Bwari area of FCT.
The kidnappers released the man and ordered him to pay N50 million for his children. One of the sisters, a 21-year-old undergraduate, was killed by the kidnappers because ransom payment was delayed.
Also this January, 30 people were abducted along the Abuja-Kaduna highway at Dogon Filli. Still in January, a man with 13 of his children and other relatives returning to Kaduna from Edo State were kidnapped at the Abuja- Kaduna highway.
Similarly, three persons were kidnapped in Kurudu community of Abuja in December 2023, while 10 were kidnapped in Sagwari Estate, Dutse Alhaji in Abuja in January 2024
At the Lugbe-Kuje-Airport road axis, six kidnapping incidents have taken place in January 2024, while
12 others were abducted at Gbaupe Community bordering Kuje and the AMAC estate, along Airport road, Abuja in December 2023
At the Abuja-Katari-Kaduna highway, about 85 people have been kidnapped between December 2023 and January 2024
23 people were kidnapped along the Kubwa/Dei-Dei axis which stretches to the Abuja-Kaduna highway.
Government statistics for Abuja showed that 40 kidnapping cases involving 236 victims were recorded in 2023. On Monday, IGP Kayode Egbetokun said 154 kidnapped victims had been rescued by the Police after several operations.
State Police‘ll Tackle Insecurity Challenges —Makinde
To fight insecurity headlong, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State called for the establishment of state police, noting that it had become imperative to surmount the insecurity challenges facing different parts of the country.
The governor, who maintained that the refusal of the federal government to approve South-West Governors’ demand to establish state police a few years ago led to the establishment of the Western Nigeria Security Network Agency, codenamed Amotekun, said it was important for the federal government to revisit the matter.
Makinde stated this when he received the Conference of Speakers of State Legislators, South-West Chapter, led by the chairman and speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly, Mr Adeoye Aribasoye. The speakers paid a courtesy visit to the governor in his office in Ibadan, where he appreciated them for their condolences and words of support over the January 16 explosion in Bodija, Ibadan.
The governor maintained that there was need for collaboration and cooperation between the executive arm of government and the legislature to deliver dividends of democracy and bring development to the people.
On the security challenges in the country, the governor said the establishment of state police was an idea whose time had come., adding that the fear in some quarters that states would not be able to maintain state police was unfounded.
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