Ogun state and the battle cry against insecurity

Ogun state Governor Dapo Abiodun

Ogun state known to be peaceful is however enmeshed in security challenges thereby leaving cause for worry especially as cultists carry out their nefarious activities with no hold barred. HAKEEM ADEGBENRO takes a look at these challenges in the midst of state government’s attempt to checkmate it.

The security of lives and property is the main mandate of any government. This hitherto has been the primary and cardinal promise in the manifestos of candidates who seek elective offices. In Ogun state, the situation is not different when Prince Dapo Abiodun, the present governor of the state started his campaign under the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC).

Upon his emergence in 2019, several challenges confronted the government. One issue that has continued to raise its ugly head is the level of insecurity in the state.
At the inception of the administration, Blueprint could recall that about N1 billion was raised to fight insecurity in the state.
A statement by the chief press secretary to the governor, Mr Kunle Somorin, said the money was raised through the State Security Trust Fund Committee set up by the governor.
Abiodun had, while assuming office, set up the committee to raise funds for the procurement of security equipments for security agencies in the state.

However, despite government’s seeming huge investments in security; so far, its a case of ‘low return’ as it seems that insecurity is fast becoming a part of daily living among citizens of the state.
Suffice to say that as at the time of writing this piece, the security challenges has almost reached a breaking point with constant kidnapping, armed robbery and broad day cultists attack being reported daily in the state. Available reports has it that hardly would a day go by without the report of someone being kidnapped or killed as a result of one attack or the other.

Instances of security threat

During the last APC state Congress where parallel congress was held on October 16 2021, armed thugs were seen at one of the congress venue brandishing arms, causing chaos and disturbing public peace while leaving many citizens injured. As at the time of writing this piece, it is believed that the perpetrators still roam the streets freely, without any arrest.
However, at the other end of the congress, the governor issued warnings and threats to would be violence perpetrators.
In a seemingly disturbed tone, he said, “I am the only governor in the state. I am the chief security officer of this state.” He went ahead to issue threats of dealing decisively with any person or persons fanning the ember of violence in the state.

The threats, to some people, is longed overdue, but some individuals and groups view the statements of the governor as a misplaced threats and direct assault on citizens.
“It is most unstateman-like for the head of a supposedly democratically elected government to issue threats to law abiding residents” a resident wrote on his facebook wall.
“What has been the result of these warnings? Has the state faired well since the issuance of those warnings and threats?
“It is however a cause of worry that even after the warning and reaffirmation of his elected position as the ‘Chief security Officer’ of the state, the security challenges bedeviling the state has not subsided.

Can one then say Ogun state is back to those almost forgotten dark days of insecurity where cultism thrived as normal way of life? God forbid,” the post reads.
For instance, a few days ago, gunmen invaded a Cherubim and Seraphim Church along the railway station in Obada-Oko in Ewekoro local government area of the state and kidnapped three worshippers. The kidnappers after a few hours demanded N6 million ransom before their victims could be released.

The names of the victims were Ifeoluwa Alani-Bello, Adebare Oduntan and Mary Oliyide.
A source close to the church said, “The incident took place at Cherubim & Seraphim Church, Ona-Ara, Oju-Irin in Obada Oko in the early hours of today (Sunday) after a vigil on Saturday held by the said church. Residents of this environment have since resorted into taking their security into their hands.”

Private guard, an option?

Just last week, the residents decided to involve the use of traditional means of securing the lives and properties, saying that they can no long rely on the government and security agencies for their protection.
According to investigation, the implications of using the ‘Oro’ traditional security simply means there would be

another issue to contend with. This is because the Obada-Oko community is heterogeneous in religion and this may cause religious clash that the police may also have to contend with in the coming weeks.
Also, residents of Abeokuta, the state capital are beginning to lose count of how many people have been killed by suspected cultists lately.
Aside from those who have been killed in the cult clashes across Abeokuta, reports has it that many have sustained varying degrees of injuries, even as the incidents continued with no end in sight.

Most of the clashes have always been as a result of the supremacy battles between different confraternities like Aiye, Eiye and others.
A resident Agbalajobi Ojoba said, “In the last few weeks, I don’t think a night can pass without a case of cult-killing in various places.

“In fact, the Ijaye State Hospital mortuary officials are already tired of how police bring corpses every day. Many have been sent to the great beyond in the past few weeks. We don’t know what is happening. There is no more security in Abeokuta again. On a daily basis, cultists engage in clashes, fighting and killing one another. They are even using the opportunity to rob people in places around Abeokuta. The government should do something before everything gets out of hand.
“It has worsened to the extent that residents and shop owners of these areas have to close their businesses as soon as it is 7pm for fear of cult attacks.

“In Igbore, whenever they start their clashes, people would be running helter-skelter and traders would have no choice other than to lock up their shops for safety. They fight any time, be it day or night,” he said.

Recently, the governor admitted that cultism is one of the security challenges facing the state. At another forum, he however said, “Cult activities have abated now because of the joint efforts of the Nigeria Police, the State Security Services and the Nigerian Army.”

According to him, local vigilantes, Community Development Associations and the Amotekun Corps had been mainstreamed into the state security architecture to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness in policing Ogun.
But, investigation reveals that the current reality in Ogun did not correlate with Gov Abiodun’s claims. This is because the cultists, who usually carry out their deadly clashes at night have now been emboldened to the extent of chasing someone on a motorcycle until the victim was hacked to death at Kuto market in broad daylight.

The state police command has confirmed the worrisome incidents that left many disturbed, saying that some of those behind the criminal acts have been arrested.

Meanwhile, other residents of the state have called on Gov Abiodun to make good his threats by waging serious war against cultism and other acts of criminalities especially kidnapping and cultism which the governor himself has identified as another security challenge confronting the state.