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IN response to the agitations and fears of people plying the Lagos-Ibadan highway over attacks by kidnappers, Ogun State Police Command has assured the general public that it has mapped out strategies to outrun the kidnappers and flush them out of their axis of operation.
The axes included Ogunmakin, Onigaari and Ishara where three victims were kidnapped on Sunday morning.
Responding to the move by the command to curb the renewed kidnap attacks, the state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Abimbola Oyeyemi said that the command was not just starting operation along Lagos-Ibadan Highway.
“We have been everywhere along the road. We have our Operation Safer Highway, Federal Highway Patrol and teams of anti-kidnapping units there. What just happened was just an opportunistic drive by the hoodlums who saw an opportunity to strike when they saw a broken down vehicle being fixed,” he said.
Oyeyemi recalled the killing of two of the kidnappers at the same axis two months ago, with the recovery of two AK-47 rifles, saying: “We are not resting on our oars because we are not oblivious of the fact that Lagos-Ibadan Highway is one of the busiest roads in the country, and it is our duty to protect the lives of commuters on the road.
“We are making every effort to make sure that the hoodlums are fished for and flushed out.”
The PPRO also disclosed that the state Commissioner of Police, Lanre Bankole, was at the place being used by the kidnappers to assess its security architecture, “and he has given the necessary directive to ensure that those hoodlums have no place to hibernate.
Oyeyemi added that operatives from the command also embarked on operations of combing the bush, saying “the forest is a very vast one linking Ogun and Oyo. We try as much as possible to involve border boundary security stakeholders such as vigilantes, local hunters, and others who know the terrains very well. And they have been assisting us. It was even through their efforts that we were able to locate their hideouts two months ago.’
“We are still carrying them along in this operation as well. And I’m very sure that very soon, our people will hear good news about our breakthrough in that axis. We are determined to flush the hoodlums out and we are going to achieve that.”
But in his response to the return of the kidnappers to the highway, the convener of Southwest Security Stakeholders Group and the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Chief Gani Adams said the attacks will go into oblivion if the police commands in Oyo, Ogun and Lagos states, as well as Directors of Department of State Services (DSS) and security advisers to the governors in the states approve a collaboration with group members to join police operatives in patrolling the axes and the vast forests surrounding them.
Adams, who spoke in a telephone conversation, made it known that nine groups, including OPC, Agbekoya, hunters, vigilantes among others, formed a unit of all relevant security groups in the Southwest.
“They were working with the Police. We started coordinating them and wrote a letter to all monarchs in the South West at the local government levels. We discovered that kidnappers have shifted their attention to Lagos-Ibadan highway. And it is the busiest road in Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, the Director-General of DAWN Commission, Mr Seye Oyeleye, has said that there is an ongoing joint operation involving the police and Amotekun in Ogun and Oyo states at identified criminal hotspots on the Lagos-Ibadan highway.
Mr Oyeleye stated this during a conversation with the Nigerian Tribune on Monday evening. He said in particular, security agencies had identified the group of people terrorising people plying the end of Isara to Onigaari axis and were already closing in on them.
He said that with several high-level meetings and joint operations of security agencies, there would be no further attacks on motorists and passengers plying the Lagos-Ibadan highway.
Oyeleye said: “Yes, we have had two or three incidents, but our security agencies are on top of the situation. The security agencies have met and as I am speaking, there is a joint operation going on among the Amotekun in Ogun and Oyo states and the police.
“Yes, it is already one or two incidents too many because the Lagos-Ibadan road is a critical artery for the South-West and indeed, Nigeria, and, if we don’t move in quickly, God forbid, we may have the situation on the Abuja-Kaduna road on the Lagos-Ibadan road. There have been high-level meetings and the security agencies are working jointly.
“Largely, the entire stretch of the road has been secured. You find police presence, but there is that particular notorious point between the end of Isara approaching Onigaari.
“The security men have identified that this is a hotspot and there is a joint operation going on. ‘We cannot afford to have insecurity on that road; it will be a major disaster for the South-West. That is why the authorities are not folding their hands.
“From my office, I have personally spoken with the commandants of Amotekun and I know joint operations are ongoing to ensure that people can drive and travel safely on that road.”