Kogi West: Residents in apprehension over herdsmen’s invasion, kidnapping

Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State

By Richard Elesho/ Jethro Ibileke

Palpable apprehension has gripped residents of Kabba, the administrative headquarters of Kabba/Bunnu Local Government Area and the entire western zone of Kogi State, over recent attacks by bandits believed to be Fulani criminal cattle herders.

In one of the recent attacks, gunmen had on 13 September, 2021 attacked the Kabba Medium Security Custodial Centre,  where four soldiers and a policeman were killed while about 240 inmates escaped.

The gunmen again  struck again on a community in the area on 17 September, 2021, and abducted three men inside their farm.

Names of the abducted persons were given as Olorunpomi Damilola, a staff of College of Education Technical Kabba and Pastor Mayowa Otitolaye are said to be partnering in running of a poultry farm.

It was gathered that the gun-wielding men shot sporadically to scare away onlookers as they seized their victims at the back of Christ Apostolic Church, Egbeda, Kabba.

The latest attack by the gunmen was carried out during church service on Sunday, September 19, when they invaded the Evangelical Church Winning All, ECWA, along Kabba-Okene express Road, in Okedayo Kabba.

The attack was carried out at about 8.00 am during a church service.

The man that was killed was identified as the Deputy Chief Security Officer of a higher institution in the area.

A source had it that some worshipers took cover while others in an attempt to escape were kidnapped.

The dead victim was on his way to the church when he encountered the gunmen, who instantly opened fire on him.

Commenting on the attacks, a resident of Kabba who preferred to be anonymous, said that “many men of shady characters have infiltrated surrounding forest.”

Another community member, Mr. Yomi Obalore opined that the entire Ikowaopa, a suburb of Kabba is stylishly under the control of non-indigenes and there is therefore the need for everyone to be circumspect.

Community leaders in the entire Kogi West Senatorial Zone have been raising the alarm over the influx of herdsmen in the area.

Iyabo Durowaye, a civil servant and resident of Kabba, who spoke with our correspondent on Tuesday, said the town and the entire neighbouring communities have been gripped with fear.

She disclosed that they could no longer go to work for fear of being attacked and kidnapped.

“We now sit at home, no one is bold enough to go to work anymore. People in the town and surrounding villages now live in fear,” she said.

She called on government to increase the presence of security operatives in the town and the neighboring communities.

Also on Tuesday, the apex socio-cultural group of the Yoruba speaking people of Kogi State, Okun Development Association, ODA, condemned the degenerating security situation in Kogi West.

A statement issued by the National Secretary of ODA, Pastor Ayo Abereoran, in Lokoja on Tuesday, said the Sunday attack on innocent people who gathered to worship their God, is among the numerous insecurity issues bedeviling communities in Okun land.

The statement described the attack and the attendant loss of life as barbaric, unfortunate and sad.

“Also, the jail break at the Federal Minimum Correctional Centre, Kabba, and the kidnappings in Ijumu, Kabba-Bunu, Mopa Amuro, Oworo land, Yagba East and Yagba West Local Government Areas, are alien to our land.

“It was the fear of this and similar occurrences in different parts of Okunland that made the ODA to passionately plead with the state government very early in the life of the administration to reconsider her open door policy to those who disguised as ordinary people going about for their survival, whereas they had and still harbor evil intentions. Today, we all know better,” the statement read.

ODA called for improved security in the area towards nipping the recent upsurge of kidnapping in Okun land in the bud.

“Security agencies must rise up to their responsibility of protecting lives and property of the people.

“The Okun Development Association is making a clarion call on all security apparatus in the country to come and save us from these kidnappings, savagery, banditry and killings being carried out by yet to be identified persons.

“We make this call all the time hoping that the authorities will rise to the occasion. Sadly, it gets worse with each passing day.

“What can the people do if the security agencies are unable to provide adequate security cover to the people?

“We the ODA do not want to believe that the security agencies lack the ability and capacity to decisively deal with this situation. This is where we once again appeal to our political leadership across board, for sake of the millions of young innocent children and the overall long-term interest of Nigeria, to demonstrate the political will, take and implement the political and security decisions that will put this menace to rest once and for all.”

ODA equally called on local government Chairmen to sit up and justify the trust of the people by partnering with relevant stakeholders like traditional rulers to arrest the current externally imposed current situation the zone found itself.

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