Be­yond Chief Olu Falae’s kid­nap

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS -

In Oc­to­ber 2010, a tra­di­tional ruler and a col­lege provost were ab­ducted in Ek­iti state. While the ban­dits were tak­ing the vic­tims to a hide­out in Delta state, a fa­tal ac­ci­dent oc­curred at Kabba in Kogi state. Both vic­tims were killed while the kid­nap­pers were se­ri­ously in­jured. The crim­i­nal el­e­ments were promptly ar­rested by the po­lice and charged to court by the Kogi state min­istry of jus­tice. Although the trial court or­dered that the kid­nap sus­pects be re­manded in prison cus­tody, they es­caped last year dur­ing a vi­o­lent at­tack on the Lokoja prison by un­known gun­men.

Shortly af­ter that, the wife of the Speaker of Osun state was ab­ducted in Osogbo. She was later found by a vig­i­lante group in Ogun state. In La­gos, the chair­per­son of Ejigbo LG was ab­ducted. He was re­leased upon the pay­ment of a ran­som of N15m. Since then sev­eral per­sons have been kid­napped and re­leased upon pay­ment of ran­som ne­go­ti­ated by their fam­ily mem­bers. Notwith­stand­ing such in­ci­dents of kid­nap­ping the south­west zone was con­sid­ered rel­a­tively safe. But the cri­sis of in­se­cu­rity of life and prop­erty in the re­gion be­came ex­ac­er­bated af­ter the 2015 gen­eral elec­tions fol­low­ing the re­trench­ment of hun­dreds of armed po­lit­i­cal thugs and the es­cape of a num­ber of pris­on­ers at the pris­ons in Ado Ek­iti, Akure and Sagamu in the last cou­ple of years. The few kid­nap sus­pects who were ar­rested were not charged to any court by the po­lice while the prison man­age­ment did not de­clare any of the es­capees wanted.

No doubt, the kid­nap of Chief Olu Falae, a for­mer sec­re­tary to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment in his farm in the out­skirt of Akure, Ondo state last month added a new di­men­sion to the kid­nap saga in the re­gion. Em­bar­rassed by the de­vel­op­ment Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari di­rected the In­spec­tor-Gen­eral of Po­lice, Mr. Solomon Arase to se­cure the re­lease of the Chief. Barely 24 hours later Chief Falae re­gained his free­dom af­ter the pay­ment of ran­som by his fam­ily. Upon his dra­matic es­cape from cap­tiv­ity, Chief Falae dis­closed that his ab­ductees spoke “good English”. Based on such dis­clo­sure it is doubt­ful if the crim­i­nals who kid­napped Chief Falae are Fu­lani no­mads. How­ever, Chief Falae an­nounced last week that his farm had been in­vaded vi et armis and taken over by a group of Fu­lani no­mads. In a clas­si­cal dis­play of im­punity, the Po­lice Force has failed to dis­lodge the law­less group.

In­stead of call­ing on the se­cu­rity agen­cies to en­force the law by ar­rest­ing and pros­e­cut­ing the group some Yoruba lead­ers threat­ened that the south-west would se­cede from Nige­ria if Fu­lani no­mads are not banned from en­ter­ing the re­gion! It is un­for­tu­nate that the se­nior cit­i­zens who is­sued the threat did not ad­dress the le­gal im­pli­ca­tions of their de­mand. It ought to be pointed out that ev­ery Nige­rian has a con­sti­tu­tional right not be ex­pelled from any part of the coun­try. Lead­ers of the var­i­ous eth­nic groups should be wor­ried over the in­volve­ment of ed­u­cated young men and women in the men­ace of kid­nap­ping. Chief Falae is likely to be pained that the illegal oc­cu­pa­tion of his farm by a crim­i­nal gang may de­gen­er­ate to civil dis­tur­bances be­tween Yoruba farm­ers and Fu­lani no­mads.

More so, that Chief Falae was at the 2014 Na­tional Con­fer­ence where it was unan­i­mously agreed by del­e­gates that “In the long term cat­tle routes and graz­ing re­serves be phased out to lay em­pha­sis on ranch­ing” and that states which have large live­stock pop­u­la­tions should “en­deavor to main­tain graz­ing re­serves.” It was fur­ther re­solved that “An in­te­grated de­vel­op­ment and liveli­hoods mod­ern­iza­tion pro­gram should be de­signed and im­ple­mented to ad­dress the is­sue of set­tling no­madic herds­men into set­tled com­mu­ni­ties based on es­tab­lished cat­tle ranches with fod­der de­vel­op­ment tech­nolo­gies, and in­clud­ing abat­toirs, pro­ces­sors and other busi­nesses along the live­stock value chain.” The rec­om­men­da­tions have been ig­nored by the FG.

It is on record that not less than 10,000 heads of cat­tle are con­sumed in the south-west daily. The ma­jor­ity of the heads of cat­tle are brought in mal­nour­ished hav­ing been made to walk hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres from the north­ern part of the coun­try. In­stead of is­su­ing threats the Yoruba lead­ers ought to have mo­bi­lized the south-west state gover­nors to set up ranches and abat­toirs for the pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion of meat in the re­gion. For in­stance, through a PPP ar­range­ment a mod­ern abat­toir, the largest in Africa, was built in Ibadan, Oyo State in 2011. But due to some in­ex­pli­ca­ble rea­sons the state gov­ern­ment has re­fused to al­low the abat­toir to func­tion. The Ek­iti state gov­ern­ment once had a ranch. It was es­tab­lished by the Adekunle Ajasin gov­ern­ment in the sec­ond re­pub­lic. But it has since col­lapsed due to lack of main­te­nance. This is not the time to re­sort to di­ver­sion­ary or es­capist so­lu­tions to man-made prob­lems. The rul­ing class should be com­pelled to ad­dress the chal­lenges of es­tab­lish­ing live­stock, graz­ing re­serves, ranch­ing and mod­ern­iza­tion of pas­toral­ist or no­madic liveli­hood in line with the afore­said rec­om­men­da­tions.

In con­clu­sion, the po­lice should move speed­ily to dis­lodge the armed ban­dits who have seized Chief Falae’s farm. The Yoruba lead­ers should con­sult with the south-west state gover­nors with a view to ad­dress­ing the in­creas­ing wave of in­se­cu­rity of life and prop­erty in the re­gion. All prison es­capees should be de­clared wanted and fished out by the po­lice. Gov­ern­ments should em­bark on the mas­sive cre­ation of jobs for the army of un­em­ployed youths. State and lo­cal gov­ern­ments should be al­lowed to set up se­cu­rity out­fits. Since north­ern gover­nors are wor­ried over cat­tle rustling, their south­ern col­leagues should link up with them with a view to hav­ing a holis­tic ap­proach to the es­tab­lish­ment of graz­ing zones, ranches and abat­toirs. Un­less these mea­sures are adopted, the coun­try will con­tinue to wit­ness in­se­cu­rity of life and prop­erty.

Falana is a lawyer and hu­man rights ac­tivist.

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