Insecurity is probably at its peak in the South-West no thanks to the violent attacks in almost all parts of the region. Today, people are afraid to move from one part of the region to the other because of the fear of being attacked. Attacks come from different marauding gangs, particularly armed robbers and the most dreadful of all, kidnappers, who those survived their reprehensible activities have described as herdsmen.
In the last couple of months, kidnappers have become notorious in the South-West that the mere mention of their names usually strikes terror in the minds of many. People don’t just fear the kidnappers; the abductors earned it through tales of their deliberate wickedness to their victims, which many people reasonably believe to be part of a larger script. Most of the times, gunmen would jump on a major road in broad daylight and start to shoot at oncoming vehicles to force motorists to stop.
Through this process several people have been sent to their graves in their prime. Those kidnapped are made to pass through hell while in the captivity of these depraves. Many women, including children, are tortured and gangraped for several days.
Many are permanently damaged as they could not survive their traumatic experience in the hands of their abductors. Men are not spared in the depravity. Violence is not limited to the South-West states of Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun and Oyo.
The North, especially the North-East, has in the last few years being in the throes of violence unleashed by the terror group, Boko Haram, while parts of the North-Central have been under attacks by the ubiquitous herdsmen. The bandits have killed and abducted several people in the North-West. The upsurge in violence in the South-West, it is believed, is fallout of the continuous bloodletting in the North. The violence in the South- West reached a crescendo with the recent murder of Mrs. Funke Olakunrin, daughter of Pa Reuben Fasoranti, the leader of pan-Yoruba sociocultural organisation, Afenifere.
The activities of these renegades seem to have overwhelmed the political leaders in the region. The governors in the South-West have failed, woefully, to respond appropriately to the challenge posed by activities of the murderers disguising as kidnappers.
But the announcement by President Muhammadu Buhari recently that the Federal Government would deploy drones and Close Circuit Televisions (CCTVs) to monitor forests and tackle insecurity in South-West did not only come as a relief to the people, it also rekindled their hope.
The President spoke while playing host to traditional rul-ers from the South-West led by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, at the State House. The President disclosed that he “will be issuing directives to the appropriate federal authorities to speedily approve licensing for states requesting the use of drones to monitor forests and other criminal hideouts. “We also intend to install CCTVs on highways and other strategic locations so that activities in some of those hidden places can be exposed, more effectively monitored and open to actionable review.
“This administration will continue to do everything necessary to protect the lives of all Nigerians and ensure that every Nigerian in every state is safe, and that our people can live in peace and harmony, regardless of ethnicity, religion or region.”
A few days later, the Inspector- General of Police (IG), Mohammed Adamu, said the police would, in the next few days, deploy a special squad in the South-West to tackle kidnapping and other criminal activities. The Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Operations), Abdulmajid Ali, who disclosed this during a visit to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State in Akure, said the main assignment of the squad was to curb crimes in the region. He said the police were keen on making the country safe for everyone. Drawing attention to the fact that the dynamics for safeguarding security keep changing, the President noted that government must adapt strategies to these challenges as well as adopt modern, technological and people-centred methods in achieving these goals.
The plan, as enunciated by the President, is commendable. Criminals have continued to embrace technology, so checking crimes requires deployment of modern technology. Provision of security for the citizens is a cardinal responsibility of any government. Any government that fails to provide adequate security will eventually lose the moral authority to govern. In this light, the Federal Government plan is a welcome development. But the President failed to explain how the CCTV would be deployed in a vast area, especially highways, without electricity.
Again, the government has left the issue of insecurity in the South-West to linger for too long. It is a sad commentary on the nation’s efforts to ginger economic growth by attracting foreign investment when what investors read or see as they arrive the country is kidnapping on a daily basis.
However, it is often said, to be late is better than never. It is not too late. We urge the government not to procrastinate again in decisively dealing with violent crimes in the South-West and all other parts of the country.