In the last four weeks, kidnappers tended to have shifted their unholy activities to Ondo State with the throne and the academia as the latest victims.
On June 2, 2015, the Regent of Akungba-Akoko, the State’s university town, Princess Oluwatoyin Omosowon, was abducted together with her three aides on her way to Akure for an official engagement. Two of her aides were released later that day with the instruction to convey the message to the townspeople.
She, the driver and other abductors kidnapped at various locations were rescued by a combined team of the military and security agencies following the salutary involvement of the State Government. The leader of the gang was killed in a shootout with security agents while two of his men were arrested.
About two weeks later, a former Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Professor Albert Ilemobade, an octogenarian, was kidnapped with his driver in his Ijapo, Akure home, Ondo State, on Monday last week.
Abduction in whatever guise is reprehensible. When extended to the throne, it signposts the savagery state our society has degenerated into. The recent abduction of a Regent and an octogenarian is, therefore, barbaric, un-African and unacceptable; it is a desecration of the throne and a defilement of the academia and age – three institutions Africans hold dear.
Before the Ondo kidnap episodes, the State’s neighbour, Ekiti State, had been the base of the abductors. It would appear that the kidnappers had used the Ekiti saga to test waters in the South-West. After having a field day in Ekiti, they shifted their base to neighbouring Ondo State.
Although the Dr. Olusegun Mimiko Government intervention paid off in the form of the arrest of the Regent’s abductors, it was just one in many cases that the Ondo and Ekiti States have experienced in the past three months or so.
With the rampant successful abduction cases, it would appear that the arrest of the kidnappers of the Regent came about because of its high-profile nature, which necessitated government’s interest and intervention.
Government would be truly seen to have risen to the challenge when cases of kidnap of ordinary citizens are cracked and perpetrators are apprehended, prosecuted and brought to justice.
We have consistently made the point that the heart of security management is intelligence gathering. Indeed, the successful rescue of the Regent by the joint security team underscores the usefulness of intelligence gathering in effective crime and security management.
But the main purpose of intelligence gathering is scuttling crime gangs and arresting them at the point of planning their devilish deed. This we have always canvassed. And this the nation’s security agents must work assiduously to achieve. It is only when this is done that the nation can be said to be close to winning the abduction war.
Former Governor Raji Fashola’s experiment in Lagos, where, through provision of necessary facilities to the Police and other security agencies and other logistic arrangements, he chased robbers out of Lagos, is proof that ridding the nation of criminals is not an impossible task. It is only a matter of political will. Governments across the nation need to declare an emergency on crimes of various shades, including kidnap, ravaging the nation.
There can be no better time for the states in the South-West region to share intelligence reports and collaborate than now that the abductors seem to be moving round the region. Other regions and states of the Federation need to do same.
The Ondo State Police Command would have to use the arrest of the abductors of the Regent as a litmus test for proving their effectiveness by painstakingly prosecuting the accused persons and bringing them to justice to serve as a deterrent to others. And as the arrested abductors operated across the nation, it is obvious that they have a network. The Police must work on this theory to smash all the kidnappers’ dens and networks and round up and prosecute all the persons involved.
Security management thrives on information. While citizens have a duty to make information available to the security agencies to do their jobs and must do this for personal and societal reasons, the security agencies have a responsibility to protect the informants and their confidentiality by using information made available to them professionally.
Unemployment, mismanagement of the nation’s common resources and impunity on the part of leaders in the face of crying lack and want are at the root of prevailing crimes, including kidnapping. As a long time measure, governments across the country must address these anomalies as majority of the perpetrators of these ills are likely to have a second thought when they are gainfully employed and have evidence that the economy is working and our leaders are making the right sacrifices.
When this is done, kidnap and other vices will be less attractive to practising and would-be criminals, and the nation will know peace.