By James Sowole in Akure
Concerned by the incessant cases of kidnapping of citizens in Owo and environs, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Owo branch, Ondo State Tuesday declared that no lawyer from its branch shall henceforth defend anybody that is accused of kidnapping a fellow citizen.
The branch chairman, Alhaji Tajudeen Olutope Ahmed, made the declaration while addressing journalists during a protest against the spate of kidnappings in the area.
Ahmed, who led members of the association on a protest march on major streets and some locations of the ancient city, lamented that no route was safe for commuters in the area.
The NBA members, who carried placards of various inscriptions, visited the Olowo’s palace, Mobil Roundabout, the Owo Area Command of the Nigeria Police and Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, whose member of staff was killed on Sunset by kidnappers.
Some of the placards carried by the protesters read: “Kidnapping is A Crime Against Humanity”, “Let Us Say No To Kidnapping”, “It Is Heinous Crime”, and “All Hands Must Be On Deck Against Kidnapping”, among others.
Addressing journalists at the Owo Area Commander’s office, Ahmed said the government had failed in its responsibility of providing security to citizens.
“The kidnappings ad ifinitum in Owo and her environs, which one of our member was once a victim is an indication of total collapse of security in Owo and the triumph of kidnapping and armed gangsters.
“It is on this note that we hereby invite the Government of Ondo State and that of the federal government to declare a state of emergency on kidnapping on Owo roads and that of the entire federation,” he said.
While calling on the police to be alive to its responsibility, Ahmed said the NBA is worried and disturbed that the police could not give a correct account of the citizens that were kidnapped recently on the Owo-Akure road.
“While eye witnesses said the victims were five, that is, three FMC Owo staffers and two Rufus Giwa Polytechnic workers; the Ondo State Police was reported to have put the number of the kidnapped victims at two individuals, this is worrisome.
“We therefore call on the police authorities to wake up to the present security challenge in Owo.
“This is not the time to slumber. It is not the time to be supine as well. Police must, as a matter of necessity be at alert to the security situation in Owo and her environs.
“To this end, we suggest that the idea of mounting police checking points, which are nothing but avenues to rake bribes from commuters, should be reviewed.
“Constant police patrol of the roads should be embarked upon. In this way, police will be able to foil any attempt by the men of the underworld from showcasing their daredevil skills on the roads,” he said.
As a way of reducing the hardship that kidnapped victims and their families are subjected to, Ahmed said government should henceforth pay ransom on behalf of abductors.
“We demand that the Government of Ondo State and that of Owo Local Government should henceforth settle whatever ransom that might be demanded from any victim of kidnapping on Owo roads.
“This can be payable from the security votes of the chief executives. Security votes are not meant to be put in pockets of chief executives. We learnt that the Rufus Giwa staff was killed because the money for his ransom was not raised on time after all other victims were freed,” Ahmed stated.