- Decries rising loss of lives, economic resources
- Urges states governors to take decisive action
By Gboyega Akinsanmi
The Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), yesterday, decried the rising spate of armed invasion by bandits, herdsmen and kidnappers into all states of South-west geo-political zone, which it attributed to the countryâ€™s porous borders.
The ARG, a pan-Yoruba socio-political think-tank, also lamented that the untamed activities of armed herdsmen and bandits had culminated in the loss of lives and the displacement of thousands of farmers across the geo-political zone.
This was contained in a statement by the groupâ€™s Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kunle Famoriyo issued yesterday, pointing out different cases of armed invasion into the South-west.
In its two-page statement, the ARG reviewed the details of recent kidnap and release of Dr. Tunde Amusat, who is the secretary of a pan-Yoruba group, Atayese.
Specifically, the group lamented that it was an irony of fate for a leader of a group dedicated â€œto the betterment of the society to be a victim of such dastardly actâ€.
â€œAmusatâ€™s testimony suggested that the kidnappers that operated along the Iwaraja-Efon Alaaye highway are hardened criminals with trademarks of insurgents.This is believable judging from the speed and ease with which they have killed some of their victims, including the younger brother of a former commissioner in Ekiti State, late Wole Olugboji,â€ he said.
The ARG noted that soldiers of the 32 Artillery Brigade that recently combed the forest along the highway found a decomposing body suspected to be a kidnap victim and found makeshift camps allegedly used by the criminals.
It added that the development â€œis worrisome to us in ARGâ€.
â€œIt buttresses our suspicion that terror now lives in our forests and rural areas as a result of porous borders,â€ he said.
From Ketu community in Yewa land to several communities in Kwara State, the ARG noted that reports of armed banditry and herdsmen assaults had been on the increase.
It lamented that the armed attacks â€œare increasingly forcing the people of South-west states to abandon their farms and thereby displacing them economically.â€
The ARG, thus, called on all the governors of South-west state and security officers â€œto stop treating this matter with kid gloves, adding that â€œKetu straddles both Nigeria and Benin Republic.â€
While the Beninoise Gendarme reportedly protects the community within its own boundary, the group alleged that Nigerian Immigration Service and the Nigeria Police expose the community in Nigeria to assaults from the bandits and herdsmen.
It threatened to mobilise the people of the South-west â€œto resort to self-defense if the situation does not improve,â€ he said.
â€œOur people are capable of defending themselves if the security agencies fail to discharge their responsibilities,â€ he added.
It urged all the monarchs, as the custodian of the cultural assets of the people, to engage in consultations that can bring lasting solutions to the terror that lives in the forests.Â
In another statement, the ARG noted that President Muhammadu Buhari had only taken a step out of several in its decision to officially declare June 12 as Democracy Day.
The group, however, lamented that Chief MKO Abiola â€œis still referred to as the presumed winner of the June 12 1993 election still bears traces of anti-democracy.â€
It observed that the Buhari presidency â€œhas access to all the information it needs to officially declare the result of that election and recognise the winner duly.â€
The ARG also demanded that all relics of military dictatorship be completely erased â€œto make our dear country a truly democratic country based on federalism principles.â€
It reminded Buhari of the persisting injustice in the murder of Ken Saro Wiwa, and the need to recognise and honour every victim of the June 12 struggle who was either extra-judicially killed or jailed, particularly Mrs. Kudirat Abiola.
It emphasised the need â€œto restructure Nigeria in accordance with federalism and replace the 1999 Constitution with an autochthonous national constitution that can stand the test of time and bear the hallmark of â€˜We the peopleâ€¦â€™Â