By Chijioke Kingsley
A group under the aegis of Ukomu Igala Organisation has decried the rising spate of Kidnapping, armed robbery, attacks by gunmen and communal clashes rocking residents of Kogi East senatorial zone in Kogi State.
The group, which represents the voice of the Igala ethnic nationality, said the outcry has become necessary as people of rural communities in the zone have been dying in silence.
National leader of the organisation, Mr. David Abutu, in a statement sent to our correspondent in Jos, said the sad tale has led to fear, apprehension and rampant bloodshed in Kogi East.
According to the statement: “In April this year, a traditional ruler, Onu Iyankpe, in a surbub of Bagana in Omala Local Government Area of Kogi State was kidnapped from his palace. His abductors killed him in cold blood after collecting ransom from family and friends of the monarch.
“On July 18, 2021, a medical doctor, Dr Solomon Nidiamaka, working with General Hospital Ugwolawo, in Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi State, was kidnapped by gunmen in similar circumstance.
“Equally, on September 6, 2021, Mrs Fatimetu Ishaku, the General Manager of Radio Kogi at Ochaja was kidnapped while on transit to her village; few day later, precisely on September 11, 2021, one Idris Bala was killed by Fulani herdsman at Ojapata Oganigu village in Dekina local government of Kogi State.
“The same Oganeinugu village has been raided three times within the last one year by gunmen suspected to be armed bandits.
“There are uncountable numbers of kidnapping in Ejule, Iyale, and Ochadamu-Umori axis in Ofu Local Government Area.
“Similarly, Itobe-Ojodu-Anyigba road as well as Idah-Ajegwu road has become a den of kidnappers with communities along those roads as well as travellers facing danger daily.
“In the same vein, Igah-Ikeje communities, especially at Adumu village, in Igah District of Olamaboro Local Government Area are having sleepless nights over incessant activities of armed Fulani herders”.
Abutu said there is a fresh dimension in the criminal activities in the zone referring to the recent attacks on operators of POS and ATM machines especially in Abejukolo, headquarters of Omala Local Government.
“In July this year alone, four POS operators were robbed in a violent manner: all these criminal acts have been so consistent within the last two years in a manner that shows complete absence of security or outright ineffectiveness of the available security system in the zone.
He said these criminals operate with impunity, as they are usually more armed than local vigilantes.
“One of the most recent cases of insecurity in the zone was the killing of four persons at Otutubatu (Bagana) in Omala LGA. More worrisome in the prevailing security situation in the zone is that farmers could no longer go to farm due to fear of armed Fulani herders who are parading the farmlands with A K-47 and are ready to kill if you dare them”.
The organisation said it observed the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the hands of youths of the state beginning from the 2019 governorship election in the state, a situation that resulted in burning of Mrs Salome Abu and her residence during the 2019 election.
The group therefore called on federal and state governments, working with security agencies, local government chairmen, traditional rulers, and security experts, to put in place an effective security arrangement to respond to the peculiar challenges facing Igala land in particular and Kogi State at large. It is apparent that this abnormal situation demands a peculiar approach to the growing criminality.
“We call for investigation into killings, robberies, and rampant kidnapping in Kogi East, to ensure that the masterminds of these criminal activities are captured and made to face the music.
“The police and other security agencies must respond to distress calls from communities in Igala land. Most times, the police do not respond to distress calls from villagers when they are being raided by bandits. The people in Igala land are Nigerians, and deserve to be protected, as stipulated in the Nigerian Constitution.
“The Nigeria Police Force should deploy more policemen in Igala land as, in most districts, there are hardly up to a dozen policemen.
“The Federal Government should establish a military barracks in Igala land to complement the efforts of the other security agencies, while efforts should be made to mop up dangerous weapons still left in the hands the political thugs across the state.”
Abutu called on all communities in Igala land to put in place dependable and formidable community security outfits, which could assist the efforts of the security agencies.