Posted by News Express | 4 June 2022 | 335 times
Terrorists are on the prowl in Kogi State, unsettling some communities with bomb attacks, abductions and other criminalities.
Our correspondent reports that although Kogi is seen as probably the most peaceful state in the North Central, the state has been attracting attention in the last few months due to rising activities of terrorists.
Apart from occasional abductions by bandits, terrorists who have been hibernating in some communities have started making social life difficult for residents.
While some experts attribute the recent planting of bombs in social gatherings to ‘bandits,’ others are narrowing the blame to a factional Boko Haram group, Ansaru, while some said the recent atrocities were being hatched by another terror group, Darul-Salam.
Until the evening of penultimate Sunday, the day did not betray the impending doom to Mrs Omofemi Oyehunwa, the owner of Obafemi Bar in the Oke Padua- Cuba area of the state.
It was business as usual last Sunday in her beer parlour located opposite the divisional police station in Kabba, the headquarters of Kabba-Bunu Local Government.
Daily Trust Saturday learnt that people of different shades of life flock to her beer parlour to cool off the stress of the day, for security reasons, especially as it is located opposite a police station in the town. It is said the evening hours is the peak of her business.
With enthusiasm she carried out her business at the beer parlour that fateful Sunday evening without knowing that an agent of death had been planted in her place until the object exploded.
As she was attending to her customers, a blast occurred around 9.15pm with a deafening noise, shattering everything in the beer parlour.
Mrs Oyehunwa and 10 others were lucky not to have received death threatening injuries, as they were all discharged few days after the sad incident.
“Only God saved my life from the blast yesterday (Sunday). It should be a bomb blast or dynamite that my enemies used to attack my business centre.
“I give thanks to God that I am not just alive but can still walk in spite of the injury I sustained. I am grateful that nobody died in the blast,” she said.
Two weeks earlier, precisely on May 11, three persons lost their lives and many others sustained injuries in a similar explosion in the evening at a beer parlour around Lewu junction in the ancient town of Kabba.
The explosion had made notable people and socio-cultural associations in the West District to raise concern over the safety of lives and property in the area.
The president of Kabba Development Union, Mr Emmanuel Ajibero said, “This blast, which occurred a second time in this town in a space of 18 days, is callous and unacceptable to us. We want the government and security agencies to rise to the occasion and do something drastic about the attacks and secure our lives and property from criminal elements and restore our peace.”
While some people believe the recent happenings are being orchestrated by terrorists, some community leaders believe it is political.
Tunde Ibrahim, Chairman of Security Committee of Okun Development Association (ODA), the highest socio-cultural association among the Okun-speaking people of the state, said the cultural group would do anything within the ambit of the law to prevent such occurrence by cooperating with security agencies and see to it that the culprits are brought to book.
He said, “As Okun people, whatever might be our misunderstanding politically should not worth anybody’s blood. We can only play politics when the environment is safe. Even the government cannot operate effectively when the environment is chaotic.
“It was in a beer parlour, but it can be in a church, mosque, car and house tomorrow. It is a serious dimension that has listed our crime vocabulary. Whatever that might be the grievances, it is a dangerous message. It is not worth taking people’s lives.”
He said Governor Yahaya Bello was a security-conscious leader who had invested his time, money and energy to ensure that the state is relatively secured from hoodlums, stressing that whoever is behind the explosion in Okun land is not a friend of the governor and the state in general.
Meanwhile, the chairman of Okehi Local Government, Abdulraheem Ohiare, has suspended masquerade outing in order to prevent hoodlums from taking advantage of it to cause mayhem.
He directed custodians of religions and traditional heads to obey the new development, assuring of his commitment to peaceful coexistence among the people in his domain.
The real threat facing Kogi
The spate of explosions in Kabba, and the increasing robbery and kidnapping, including at police formations in the central and west districts of the state, has set tongues wagging, that the era of terrorism is back with more devastating effects.
Daily Trust Saturday reports that banks and police facilities in the west and central districts have been under attack consistently by gunmen, who use sophisticated weapons and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to perpetrate their acts.
In 2020 and 2021 respectively, Kabba, Isanlu, Odo Ere, Egbe, Okene, Ogaminana and Obangede suffered in the hands of terrorists.
The last of such attacks on police facilities happened on April 23, 2022, at a police formation in Adavi, destroying the station and killing three officers in the process.
Few days after, the Islamic State, West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorist group claimed responsibility in a report.
Recall that in 2016, Khalid al-Barnawi, the leader of an al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group, Ansaru, was arrested in Lokoja months after some security breaches. The development put to rest, the suspicion of terror cells in the state.
The United States had placed a $5million bounty on Albarnawi’s head after branding him one of the three Nigerians “specially designated global terrorists” in 2012.
Since his arrest, the issue of tackling activities of the terrorists in Kogi was not being made public. And the authorities said they were not sleeping, citing the relative peace thereafter as part of their efforts in containing insurgency.
Daily Trust Saturday reports that the act of terrorism peaked at the tail end of the Captain Idris Wada administration, a development that continued at the inception of the present government.
However, Governor Bello confronted it headlong, but it appears the monster is once again rearing its ugly head.
Our correspondent reports that in 2020, no fewer than 100 victims, mostly women and children, were rescued from Darus-Salam members in the forest between Kogi and the Nasarawa State border, while 180 members of the deadly gang were arrested.
The raid, carried out within two weeks by the men of the Nigerian Army from the 177 Battalion and the Army Records, Lokoja, with support from local vigilantes, cleared the camp of the terror group that had been carrying out its heinous operations for over eight years in the area.
Salihu Bakhari, a retired military officer, said although Kogi had been on the watch over nocturnal activities of terrorists, there was the need for the authorities to pay special attention to the area.
“We should not allow the terrorists gain strength in Kogi the way they did in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa because they will be difficult to be contained. Sadly, things have started taking a different dimension,” he said, citing the spate of explosions, kidnapping and robbery in the last four months.
He recalled the attack on a police formation in Adavi, the explosion in Okene, which killed two people and many others injured during the Echane festival, as well as the Kabba beer parlour explosion.
We’re not sleeping – Kogi govt
Reacting to the security situation, the Kogi State Government said that whoever is caught sabotaging the relative peace in the state would be made to face the wrath of the law.
Jerry Omodara, the security adviser to Governor Bello, told Daily Trust Saturday that experts from security formations had been drafted to Kabba and Okene to analyse the samples of both explosives to ascertain their contents and similarities.
He said the outcome of the analysis would make the government to know the history or origin of the explosives and take decisions or actions against future occurrence.
Omadara added that the governor had also directed the stoppage of the ongoing Echane festival in all the councils concerned to avoid a breakdown of law and order.
“Governor Yahaya Bello is a proactive leader. The state commissioner of police has drafted explosive experts to compare the contents of the improvised devices used in Kabba with that of Okene to uncover the similarities and differences,” he said.
At the local level, following the two successive bomb blasts in a space of 18 days in Kabba town, the local government authorities have given clubs up till 7.00pm to close business on a daily basis.
Also, commercial motorcycle operators have been asked to close at 10.00pm on a daily basis.
The chairman, Kabbah-Bunu Local Government, Mr Moses Olorunleke, gave the order in a statement issued on Monday in Kabba.
Olorunleke said the directives to both bar and okada operators would start from May 31 till further notice.
Meanwhile, the commissioner of police in the state, Edward Egbuka, said the command was on top of the situation. He assured the people of Kogi that the latest twist in crime and criminality in the state would be dealt with, adding that investigation had commenced to uncover the culprits behind it.
Also, the police public relations officer in the state, SP William Aya, said bomb experts and men of the intelligence unit of the command had been drafted to the affected areas for the needed action. (Daily Trust)
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