Africa-Press – Nigeria. Travellers, as well as residents of Ogun State have expressed worries over the rate at which kidnappers waylay drivers and take into custody, helpless road users along the major highways in the State.
The federal roads like Lagos-Ibadan highway, Lagos-Abeokuta expressway and Lafenwa-Ayetoro-Imeko road are becoming dreadful to road users.
Kidnapping has become more or less a lucrative business in Nigeria as some individuals abduct people in exchange for ransom. In Ogun State, millions of Naira has been paid in ransom to kidnappers, whose stock-in-trade is to pick up unsuspecting travellers in exchange for ransom.
Unfortunately, these abductors are no respecter of any person as they have on different occasions taken policemen and other security agents into their hideouts.
Severally, foreign nationals working on farms and construction sites were captured and released after the payment of ransom. Some security men were killed while trying to prevent the abduction of those they were meant to look after.
Some unknown gunmen in August killed an officer of the Ogun State So-Safe Corps, Sofolahan Olanrewaju. It was learnt that the kidnappers had stormed a bar located at Soyoye, Abeokuta North Local Government to kidnap a woman. In the process, the kidnappers shot and killed the So-Safe security guard, who was trying to call for reinforcement.
Lately, it appears the kidnappers are becoming resistant to all the strategies put in place by the police and other security agents in the State as they now operate in broad daylight on busy roads within the State.
Findings by DAILY POST revealed that these daring gunmen usually appear in military or police uniforms to deceive their targets. As drivers stop to attend to the supposed security men on duty, they become victims of kidnapping.
Recently, three policemen were dragged into the bush along the Wasinmi road, in Ewekoro Local Government Area of Ogun State. Many could not believe the fact that such an operation could be carried out on the busy Lagos-Abeokuta highway, just few kilometres to the State capital, Abeokuta. The officers, from Zone 2 in Onikan area of Lagos State, were in Ogun State to carry out an investigation.
While being driven by a commercial driver, they were accosted by men in military camouflage, who had presented themselves as security agents on stop-and-search duties. Three persons were eventually taken away by the gunmen, who kept them into custody for over 48 hours.
While he was commenting on the incident, Abimbola Oyeyemi, the Ogun State police spokesman, maintained that only one policeman was among the three victims, who he said have now been set free. He is yet to announce the arrest of any of those behind the incident.
DAILY POST reports that the Wasinmi broad daylight abduction has sent shivers down the spines of many who are regular users of the road linking the Ogun State capital with Lagos, Ota and other parts of Ogun West.
“I never thought kidnappers could have that effrontery to attack anybody on that Wasinmi axis of the highway, especially in the afternoon. I know there were cases of kidnapping in Ewekoro Local Government. Obada used to be their main target, but it seems the police and the State government have tightened the noose and we have not heard of such incidents lately.
“I also remember that some kidnappers broke into a Celestial church along that axis few months ago to kidnap the Assistant Pastor and one other; but all these happened at night and not on the main road. Now I’m scared of that road. I do ply the road day and night. The Federal Government should help us,” an Abeokuta resident, Ade Julius, told our correspondent.
Also, a commercial driver, who identified himself as Kareem Olayeni, expressed concerns over the possibility of being kidnapped, saying he would spend months in the kidnappers’ den for there is no one to raise any ransom for his release.
“I am afraid. We can’t stop driving because we don’t have any other job. This is what we do to earn a living, and this Wasinmi, Itori, Papa, Ifo is our route. The report that people on transit were kidnapped is getting us worried.
“As I am, if they kidnap me today, I’ll just be with the kidnappers for many months because I don’t have any means of raising any amount for ransom. This car is on hire purchase. I only pray the police and other security agents rise to the situation,” he stated.
Traveller kidnapped on Lagos-Ibadan expressway
While road users were contemplating leaving the Wasinmi road for the Lagos-Ibadan route, they were struck with another incident around the popular Kara long bridge, near Lagos.
A commercial car enroute Lagos from Ilorin in Kwara State was ambushed by some gunmen and one Alhaji Sheu Anafi was dragged away.
But, policemen in Ogun State stormed the hideout of the suspected kidnappers, where they rescued the victim and arrested one of the suspects.
Abimbola Oyeyemi confirmed on Sunday that kidnappers had been terrorizing the Kara bridge in recent times. This is coming a few weeks after he denied reports that 20 persons were abducted in that area.
In a statement over the weekend, Oyeyemi disclosed that the hideout of the kidnapers was invaded to rescue the said Alhaji Sheu Anafi.
Men of the Warewa police division had been told by a commercial driver that while coming from Ilorin in his Ford commercial car marked LRN 596 ZY, loaded with seven passengers, he was attacked by some kidnappers.
According to Oyeyemi, the driver had told the police that when he got to the Long Bridge end of the Lagos-Ibadan highway, there was a gridlock which necessitated him to manouver through an untarred access road beside the bridge.
While driving through the untarred road, the driver said they were attacked by those he called “unknown gunmen.”
Upon the attack, all the passengers were said to have fled into different directions in the nearby bush.
After a while, the passengers reportedly regrouped for their journey, but it was discovered that Anafi, a resident of Okeleele area of Ilorin, had been abducted by the hoodlums.
Upon the report, the DPO of Warewa division, AbdulFatai Ogunsanya, had led a joint operation consisting men of the command’s tactical teams and other local security agents to comb the bush in search of the abducted man.
According to Oyeyemi, the kidnappers’ hideout was located and the security operatives engaged them in a gun battle.
“At the end of the encounter, one of the kidnappers, Ibraheem Abubakar who claimed to have come from Sabonganmu-Bompai road, Kano State, was arrested while others escaped with varying degrees of gunshot injuries, and the victim, 62 years old Sheu Anafi was rescued unhurt.”
The police spokesman disclosed that the suspect had confessed being a member of a seven-man gang terrorizing the stretch of the long bridge lately.
Reacting to the incident, the Ogun State Commissioner of Police, Lanre Bankole has ordered the immediate transfer of the arrested suspect to the State Criminal Investigation Departments for discreet investigation.
Bankole also appealed to members of the public, especially hospitals to report to the police if anybody with gunshot injuries is sighted.
Reacting, a resident of Ogun State, Ogbu Ambrose called on leaders of the South West region to rise up and tackle insecurity headon, saying terrorists have claimed responsibility for the attack on a police station in Ondo State.
“ISWAP has claimed the attack at Ondo police station and you should know the implication for the entire region. Leaders should rise to the situation,” he said.
A civil servant, who did not want to be mentioned, said the increase in kidnapping came after the #EndSARS protest, blaming the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad and the dismantling of many police check points.
Meanwhile, the Ogun State police command has reiterated that Ogun will never be a place of hibernation for kidnappers and other criminals, stressing that they will be flushed out anywhere they are.
The Command called on the general public to assist the police with credible intelligence, while warning against the payment of ransom to kidnappers.
In his efforts to rid the State of crime, Governor Dapo Abiodun had also vowed to arrest kidnappers and make them face the law.
“Let me state in clear terms that no part in Ogun State is a safe haven for criminals and criminality in whatever form. Whether on the Lagos-Ibadan, Sagamu-Benin-Ore, Abeokuta-Sango-Lagos expressways or even our township roads or interstate roads, we shall smoke them out. We shall arrest them and hand them over to face justice,” Abiodun stressed while reacting to an incident of kidnapping.