From Pwanagba Agabus, Jos
An apex sociocultural organisation known as Ukomu Igala Organisation (UIO) has raised serious security concerns bedeviling residents of Kogi East Senatorial District in Kogi State.
The organisation which represents the voice of the Igala ethnic nationality, said the outcry has became necessary as people of rural communities in the senatorial zone have been dying in silence due to rising spate of kidnapping, armed robbery, attacks by gunmen and communal clash.
This was contained in a press statement signed by its National Leader, David Abutu and Secretary Dr Sabastine Abu, made available to journalists in Jos, the Plateau State Capital.
It reads: “The attention of Ukomu Igala Organisation (UIO), has been drawn to the unsavoury security situations in Igala land, leading to fear, apprehension, and rampant bloodshed in the nine local government areas.
The Group recalled that in April, 2021, a traditional ruler, Onu Iyankpe, a surbub of Bagana in Omala Local Government Area of Kogi State was kidnapped from his palace; sadly, his abductors killed him in cold blood after collecting ransom from family and friends of the monarch.
It also recalled that, on July 18th, 2021, a medical doctor, Dr Solomon Nidiamaka, working with General Hospital Ugwolawo, in Ofu Local Government Area of the State was kidnapped by gunmen in similar circumstance.
The Group equally said, on September 6th, 2021, Mrs Fatimetu Ishaku, the General Manager of Radio Kogi at Ochaja was kidnapped while on transit to her village; also a few days later, precisely on September 11, 2021, one Idris Bala was killed by Fulani herdsman at Ojapata Oganigu village in Dekina local government of the State.
The maintained that, “The same Oganeinugu village has been raided three tomes within the last one year by gunmen suspicion to be armed bandits.
It further stated that, “There are uncountable number 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 became a den of kidnappers with communities along those roads as well traveled faces danger daily”, the Group added.
“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”, it decried.
“Another fresh dimension in the criminal activities in the zone is the 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”, the group lamented.
The Ukomu Igala Organisation further lamented that, “All these criminal acts has been so consistence 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.
“These criminals operate with impunity, as they are usually more armed than local vigilantes””, the group stressed.
“More worrisome in the prevailing security situations 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 resident during the 2019 polls.
The Group called on federal and state government, 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 and Kogi State at large.
“It is apparent that this abnormal situation demands a peculiar approach to the growing criminality”, it further decried.
“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 group admonished.
“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 be made to mop up dangerous weapons still left in the hands the political thugs across the state”, the group appealed.
UIO calls 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.