Ekiti in Turmoil as Kidnappers Demand N30 Million Ransom from Families of Abducted School Children and Teachers

Ekiti State witnessed a spate of violence on Monday night, as gunmen suspected to be herdsmen killed two traditional rulers and kidnapped six pupils, three teachers and a driver of a private school bus. The victims were returning from Eporo-Ekiti on the school bus when they were ambushed by the armed men.

The slain monarchs were 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. They were coming back from a function in Kogi State along Ipao-Oke Ako Road when their vehicles ran into the kidnappers. The Alara of Ara Ekiti, Oba Adebayo Fatoba in Ikole Local Government Area, who was with them, narrowly escaped the attack.

The kidnapped pupils were students of Apostolic Nursery and Primary School, Emure-Ekiti in Ekiti State. The kidnappers have contacted the families of their victims and demanded N30 million as ransom for their release. A source close to one of the families said the kidnappers called them on Tuesday evening and asked for the money in exchange for the freedom of their loved ones.

Meanwhile, the joint operation team of Ekiti State Police Command, Amotekun, OPC, Civil Defence and Local Hunters, arrested five suspected kidnappers on Tuesday while conducting a search operation in the bush through Oke-Osun, Ikere/Igbo-Okah to the thick forest around Iju/Ikere boundary. The suspects, who claimed to be herdsmen, were found with two motorcycles, one cutlass, one jack knife/dagger and four phones. They were identified as Usman Jelili, Mohammed Bande, Abubakar Aliu, Isah Abdulahi and Suleiman Abdulahi.

The incidents have sparked outrage and fear among the residents of Ekiti State, especially in the communities of the two monarchs killed by the gunmen. Some sources said the people might resort to self-defence against the herdsmen, who are believed to be behind the killings and kidnappings.

The state governor, Biodun Oyebanji, and the president, Bola Tinubu, have condemned the attacks and assured the people of Ekiti State that the security agencies are working hard to rescue the abducted children and teachers and bring the perpetrators to justice. They also urged the citizens to remain calm and vigilant and cooperate with the security agencies by providing relevant information to the authorities. They vowed that nothing would be spared in the efforts to restore peace and security in the state.

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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