- Afenifere tackles Osinbajo on Fulani attack on Yorubaland
- I was misquoted, says Osinbajo
Governors of the six states of the South-West geopolitical zone, yesterday, resolved to collaborate in galvanising resources and logistics to ensure that insecurity, banditry, kidnapping, cultism, ritual killings and all forms of anti-social behaviour are stamped out of the zone.
The governors – Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Babatunde Sanwo-Olu (Lagos) and Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), who met in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, during a Stakeholders Security Summit Focus on Western Nigeria, also reiterated the need for neighbourhood/community policing to complement the federal police.
This is as Pan Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, also tackled Vice President Yemi Osinbajo over his comment that attacks and kidnapping by suspected Fulani herdsmen across the country are politically motivated and exaggerated.
The mainstream Yoruba group at a meeting held in the house of its leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, in Akure, Ondo State, said the statement made by Osinbajo in the United States (U.S.) was unfortunate and taking politics to the extreme.
The South-West security summit organised by the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN Commission), also afforded the governors the opportunity to raise the alarm over invasion of the zone by armed bandits suspected to be from other tribes.
However, the governors promised not to allow party affiliation or political interest to affect their collective effort towards finding lasting solution to the security challenges facing the people of the zone.
At the summit were the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, who was represented by Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Mr. Taiwo Lakanu; Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone 11, Mr. Leye Oyebade and Commissioners of Police in the six states of the South-West.
Others were representatives of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Vigilante Group of Nigeria, Agbekoya Peace Movement of Nigeria led by Alhaji Ahmed Olasunkanmi and the Oodu’a Peoples Congress (OPC) with its leader and Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams as well as several traditional rulers in attendance.
While the Ooni of Ife, Oba Ogunwusi Adeyeye was represented, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi and the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji, were however absent.
In order to make their promise pragmatic, Fayemi, who is the chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), charged the people of the zone to hold them responsible for any further lapse in security architecture.
“We as governors in the South-West should be held accountable. That was why you elected us. We shall not relent until these security challenges are resolved. So, hold us responsible,” he said.
Governor Akeredolu, who is the chairman of South-West Governors Forum, while declaring the summit open, reiterated that protection of lives of residents and the people of South-West is paramount to all the governors, hence their support for the creation of the DAWN Commission.
He said the summit was the commission’s effort at creating engagement and discourse for finding a lasting solution to the security challenges in the South-West and called on the people of the zone to close ranks to fight the security challenges irrespective of political leanings
His words: “Our history compels us to be cautious when confronted with strange occurrences. Our past experiences should teach us that understanding. A phenomenon will assist us, tremendously, in proffering useful solution.
“As leaders of our people, we cannot afford to be emotive in taking decisions for their benefit. Any step taken must reflect the collective will to protect them. No sacrifice is too much to preserve this heritage of peace and prosperity.
“Our people are under siege, the harbingers of death, sorrow, tears and blood threaten the existing fraternity among the peoples of this country. Narrow-mindedness gloats over the horrendous crimes perpetrated by these criminal elements. We should be particularly worried by the current spate of an insidious phenomenon hitherto unknown and uncommon in our immediate clime, creeping into our erstwhile peaceful and prosperous ambience.
“Our collective goal should be the protection of our collective space. There must be no compromise. There is no doubt that insecurity has become a critical concern in the South-West. Our roads are no longer safe; our people are living in palpable fears. This is blind to religion, race etc. There must be free flow of information among the people and security agencies. There must be border control within the South-West zone. There must be inter-agency cooperation among the security force.
“Our strategies must be harmonised. We have decided to cast aside partisan interest. Our ultimate aim is the integration of our socio-economic development. We are not going to discuss party whenever we discuss security issues. We must collaborate among ourselves lest we seek refuge in the nest of our enemies.”
Also speaking, Lagos State governor, Babatunde Sanwo-Olu, who commended the DAWN Commission for its efforts, said: “Lest we be sounding like broken record, I align myself with the submissions of my brother governors. We have since about two weeks been discussing security. It is paramount in all our discussions. We join hands with DAWN Commission’s agenda.
“We need collaboration and support even from the private sector. We need to strengthen our judicial system to ensure quick justice dispensation. We shall continue to advocate sensitisation of parents, teachers and the need for community policing.
“Neighbourhood policing is one of the very important security devices we need. It is practised all over the world. It does not amount to asking for abolition of the federal police,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu suggested that advocacy be introduced, while state police be considered to compliment the effort of the federal police in all states of the federation.
“State police is the way to go. This would give the chief security officers in each of the states the opportunity to direct their affairs and make them accountable instead of waiting for federal directives before major actions could be taken on incidents of banditry, cultism and other heinous crimes.
“Controlling one’s police at the state level would help us achieve unhindered and accelerated response to any criminal activities recorded within our communities.
“The importance of security in human existence cannot be underestimated, which means security is paramount to the existence of all human beings and no meaningful development could be recorded in the absence of security,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu urged all governors in the zone and stakeholders alike to put all machineries in motion to find a permanent solution to the security lapses, adding: “We should speak with one voice and remove politics, so as to put a permanent stop to the incessant incursions on our land.”
Governors Oyetola and Abiodun, who also backed the call for state police, said such should be complemented by the local vigilantes including neighbourhood watch.
Oyetola said: “The nation is grossly under-policed and the police force is sorely underfunded. Contrary to the United Nations’ ratio requirement of one police man to 400 citizens, the Nigeria Police has less than 400,000 officers to cover 180 million people. The force said it needs 155,000 more men to police the nation’s population. The implication of the above is that we need to recognize this situation as an emergency and treat it as such.
“The police should be adequately funded and provided with enough personnel and other logistics support to do their job. Perhaps, on account of the security challenges that we face today, there might be no better time to revisit the call for state police as local officers are better suited to secure our communities.”
DAWN Commission Chairman, Seye Oyeleye, appreciated the importance of the summit, which he said was demonstrated by the presence of the governors.
He said: “There cannot be development without security. We need to recommend implementable solution. Our zone is the most peaceful and we want it to remain so. Our people should be secured and our property must be secured.
The Inspector General of Police, Adamu in his speech read by DIG Lakanu, said: “It is obvious that there is no nation that is insulated from crime and criminality, therefore security challenges are not peculiar to the South-West or to Nigeria. It is the preponderance or prevalence that varies from one society to another. But what is important is the ability to address these issues headlong.
“As part of our efforts to address the security challenges in the South-West, we have reviewed and improved on our security strategies across the country, dealing with the states according to their peculiar challenges.
“We have given additional Police Mobile Force (PMF) personnel, Intelligence Response Team, vehicles and other logistic support to Zone XI Osogbo to enable it deal with recent security challenges in some parts of Ondo, Osun and Oyo states.”
Lakanu, on behalf of the IGP, however, sought for more logistics to make the police work more effective.
Chairmen of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders in Oyo and Ogun states, Alhaji Yakubu Bello and Alhaji Mohammed Labar, respectively, welcomed the security summit and pledged to support the governors in tackling security challenges in the South-West.
Meanwhile, members of Afenifere, who rose from a meeting, held at the house of its leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, in Akure, Ondo State, in a communiqué read by its spokesman, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, said Osinbajo trivialized an issue that has given the people of the South-West and other zones cause for concern.
The communiqué read in part: “Meeting frowned at this unfortunate comment by the Vice President who shames the Yoruba people with his very cheap politicking with the lives of Nigerians.
“Aside from the daily tales of horror across Yorubaland in the hands of these Fulani marauders, the meeting would like Osinbajo to answer if the report of the kidnap of a district head from President Muhammadu Buhari’s town on May 1, was politically motivated?
“Was the President speaking of another country, when he handed kidnappers on the rampage to God? Was former Health Minister, Prof Isaac Adewole, playing politics, when it was announced that his son was kidnapped?
“What politics was afoot when the Ondo State governor recently announced that his convoy was waylaid by kidnappers? If he (Osinbajo) cannot answer these questions, he should kneel before his God and ask for forgiveness for violating ‘Thou shall not lie’ commandment.”
Afenifere counseled Osinbajo not to allow whatever ambition and political interest he serves to push him to make such infuriating comments as the No Two man in the country again.
According to Odumakin, the Yoruba people and other zones cannot not bear what is going and called on President Buhari to separate the office of the President of Nigeria, which he occupies from being also the grand patron of Miyetti Allah, which makes it very difficult for security agents to go after members of this group whenever they commit or are accused of crimes.
His words: “There must be immediate enforcement of law and order as an urgent measure to flush out these criminal elements from our society. There must be immediate steps taken to rework Nigeria to take it back to the practice of federalism so that every federating unit can have their police to secure their environment.
“In order to cut the production line of criminals and bandits we must have the practice of federalism in many key spheres, especially the economy, so that all federating units must have the rights to tap whatever is under their soil, so that new corridors of prosperity are created to eradicate the massive unemployment in the county, so we can cease to be the headquarters of poverty.
But, in a swift reaction, the Vice President, said he was misquoted as “nowhere was the word exaggerated used” in his speech during his meeting with Nigerians in the U.S.
Osinbajo, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity), Laolu Akande, said: “Our attention has been drawn to misleading reports in a section of the media purportedly made by and attributed to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) on the security situation in Nigeria, in New York.
“For the purpose of clarity, and the records, it is pertinent to state that Prof. Osinbajo was entirely misquoted and his words taken out of context in the said media reports, especially those that quoted him as saying that ‘kidnapping in Nigeria is exaggerated and not entirely new.’
“Nowhere in the Vice President’s remarks at the townhall meeting with the Nigerian community did he use the word ‘exaggerated,’ not even by implication. His remark about the social media being hysterical was a general response to comments made by participants at the meeting about information on happenings in Nigeria especially as they relate to security being shared on social media platforms by unverified sources.”
According to the statement, what the Vice President said was: “I really will urge that you don’t rely entirely for information on social media. I think that the social media tends to be hysterical about practically everything.
“I think there is also a lot of politics involved in some of the information as it comes up. I think it is also important to point out that this new wave of issues of security came immediately after the elections. And there is always a connection between this issue of security and elections because many times, politicians’ arm several of these individuals during the electioneering period, and immediately after an election cycle, many of them, having nothing to do and with arms all over the place, resort to the fastest way of making money which is to abduct somebody and ask for a ransom. And that is just one side of the problem.
“But let me dimension it so that you can really understand it better. When people say there is security problem here and there, it is not one thing, it is several different things but if it is described as one thing then it will look bigger than it really is. And I am deeply worried about the fact that we might find ourselves unable to resolve these problems unless we drill down to see what the problems are.
“With respect to general kidnapping which we have seen in certain parts of the country, again this is not entirely new. When you listen to some of the stories, some of them are simply not true anyway. Some are fueled by politics, but there are cases of kidnapping, there is no question at all about that….and every story we try to track and trace. When you track them, you find out that people just tell some stories, but the truth anyway is that there is kidnapping in places where it has taken place.
“The way to check it is the work we are doing with state governments namely using technology to track cases. These are economic crimes; if people know that they will be caught, and they will not be allowed to get away with their loot, it will stop in the places where it is taking place. That is really the work we are doing with the state governments. “We are doing this in the various zones where we see that there are rash of incidents. We are trying to put in place trackers and all sorts of other equipment that can be used to locate
“I am not so sure how many follow the number of arrests that have been made in different state police commands, several have been made. I don’t think the problem is as massive as that, I think we can deal with the question of kidnapping quite easily. I am sure that not so long a time, the news will be a lot better in terms of kidnapping and we will feel more comfortable about life at home.”
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