The people of Kogi State can no longer sleep with both eyes closed because of the danger posed to their lives by the activities of men of the underworld, cultists, kidnappers and other social miscreants.
The last four weeks have been hellish for residents of the confluence state. This is because the environment has been turned to a battle field by kidnappers and cultists who have made it very difficult for people to enjoy their night life, ostensibly to attract ransom.
Perhaps, this explains why many of the miscreants continue to promote crime in the state without recourse to its repercussions. In recent times, highway robbers have taken advantage of bad roads to unleash terror on travellers on major roads in the state. Sometimes they block the roads for hours, subjecting their victims to unnecessary hardship.
On March 5, 2016, rival cultists from the ‘Eiye’ and ‘Elebe’ confraternities had a confrontation at a primary school in Ganaja village, on the outskirts of Lokoja, on Lokoja-Ajaokuta expressway. After the brutal attacks, two people were left dead while some survived but with grievous injuries.
On March 16, 2016, the battle shifted to Adankolo area of Lokoja metropolis where two people also lost their lives.
Not done, they shifted base to Kabawa, also within the state capital, where six people were hacked down at different spots. Some youths were killed in the full glare of their parents, their remains tucked in sacks and thrown into the river.
All this happened within the period people were preparing for Easter and celebrating the festival.
Some residents who spoke to our correspondent attributed the rise in cult activities to collapse of family values, pointing out that parents no longer have control over the children.
But the cultists are not the only ones bringing sorrow to residents. Kidnappers are also having a field day. Kidnapping for ransom has become the order of the day.
On March 19, 2016, at Ankpa, kidnappers who pretended to be Okada (commercial motorcycle) riders abducted one Hajiya Hajiratu Chinedu, who was returning to the village after six years in America, took her to an uncompleted building and demanded N3 million ransom.
As fate would have it, Hajiratu feigned that she was hungry and seeing her condition of being pregnant, the abductors offered to buy food for her, one went on the errand while the second kept vigil. She had opportunity when the one keeping vigil went to stay by the window leaving her to call one of her relations who went to the police station and went to the location described for him by the sister.
Having located the spot where she was held hostage, the policemen took position around the building. The man who went to buy food was gunned down while the one keeping vigil was also gunned down but had breath enough to call one of the accomplices.
The third person, identified as a police corporal, was apprehended and is now cooling his feet and giving useful information in police custody.
Abduction for ransom is a new thing in the state. It became very noticeable in Idah and Igalamela local government areas of the state. There was a time Federal Polytechnic, Idah became a target for kidnappers. The kidnappers had become used to the institution, to the extent that they could come any day any time.
At a time, in Idah, Hajiya Laruba Abdullahi, proprietor of Fosla Hotel and mother of the former chairman of Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, Alhaji Sani Lulu Abdullahi, was kidnapped.
So far, LEADERSHIP Sunday findings revealed that most of these crimes are carried out by teenagers.
Just on Saturday, April 2, along Ankpa-Otukpo-Makurdi road, robbers mounted a road block where they killed two members of a family who were travelling from Akure to Makurdi.
In another development, on the same road and the same spot, two people were fired at by armed robbers and killed because they tried to escape.
The most unfortunate thing, according to those who escaped the robbers, is that the police patrol the road and when the robbers see them approaching, they leave but once the police have driven past in their vehicles, the robbers return and continue to unleash mayhem on travellers.
While some attribute the frequent occurrence of violent robbery to the porous nature of Kogi boundaries, some attribute it to the arms and ammunitions the political class sourced for their thugs but failed to retrieve after the elections and because they no longer service the boys, the thugs use the arms to unleash terror on innocent people.
It has also been observed that robbery is usually on the increase in the state during the dry season, during festivities, and elections.
A crime detective, Solomon Audu, said there is no way armed robbers can invade any territory without the consent of the locals.
“Significantly, the operation that would last two hours without people in the area challenging them is not just armed robbery planned from outside,” he said.
Also commenting on the crime rate in the state, Alhaji Yakubu Usman, said that the state and federal government have not taken into cognisance the strategic location of the state as an entrance point to the federal capital, which has made the state’s boundary very porous.
Residents of Ankpa local government had their own bitter experience in the hands of some hoodlums recently.
Narrating his ordeal, one Agbadi Joseph, said while travelling on the Ankpa-Adoka-Makurdi road, at a point, armed armed young men walked out of the bush and ordered them at gun point to surrender all their money, seized all the handsets and other valuables which they obliged without hesitation.
He revealed that these boys carry out their nefarious activities without challenge because in a week, no trace of police patrol team is noticed along the road.
It was gathered that a retired teacher who had gone to Lokoja to collect the money owed her from the pension office also fell victim of the activities of the men of the underworld.
The police in the state insist that they are doing their best to tackle crime in the state through various strategies.
The strategies as indicated by the wave of crime are not good enough, hence the need for restrategising.
The police boss, Mr Yakubu Yusuf, while speaking with journalists, said that his men have done well, so far. He emphatically said that the crime rate in the state has drastically reduced.
He said that foot armed robbers were the major area where the command was working out theories to bring those involved to book.
It was such foot armed robbers that on June 3, 2011, killed Mammud Ochijenu along Ajaokuta-Lokoja road. No arrests have been made and the police seem to have come to a dead end on the clue.
Kogi State Under Siege Of Bandits, Kidnappers
Reviewed by Link Naija