By Jimoh Ahmed & Michael Ofulue
Like a festering sore, kidnapping cases which had for long thrived in the Northern Senatorial District, especially Auga-Ise-Akunnu axis of Akoko Northeast Local Government area of Ondo State is once again rearing its urgly head.
Only some days ago, the area witnessed a high profiled abduction case as a Nigerian Army personnel, one Captain D. Gana was kidnapped along with two others while in transit in Ondo State from Abuja.
It took the effort of the army and other security operatives to secure his release after taking the fight to the kidnappers den in the bushes of Ibilo in Akoko Edo area of Edo State.
Also, a naval officer was on Monday kidnapped along Ose/Oba Akoko road and his abductors demanded for N50 million ransom.
Travellers are now afraid to ply the route as it has continued to be a case of one week one kidnap in the area.
In June, 2019, the wife of the Alauga of Auga Akoko, Olori Olukemi Agunloye was daringly waylaid just some poles to Auga while returning from her family house in Ugbe Akoko and abducted along with the driver.
Their abductors ransacked their vehicle before dragging them to the bushes and a ransom was paid before her release was secured alongside her driver.
On May 18, 2019, three men travelling in their Toyota Corolla car were also abducted on the same Auga-Ise-Akunnu road.
A wife to one of the victims and her children were let off the hook apparently to facilitate payment of ransom.
Another three people, this time timber contractors, were abducted while returning from forest reserve in Akoko Edo where they went to convey some logs of woods to the sawmill in Akunnu their home town on March 4, 2019.
In the same vein, Alhaji Jamiu Zakarriyah, a school teacher was also kidnapped while returning from the Mosque at 8.00pm on October 4, 2019.
Zakarriyah was lucky to escape miraculously from the hands of his abductors who bundled him into a waiting vehicle, although blindfolded on that day before dragging him to the bush.
While the catalogue of abduction or kidnapped stories in Auga-Ise-Akunnu road remain endless as the possibility of other numerous cases may have happened without record, it is obvious that the threat the crime poses to the people of the area and travellers alike is high.
However, in the space of two months, over ten people have been kidnapped on the road.
Speaking on the issue, the Alauga of Auga, Oba Samuel Kehinde Agunloye, whose wife was also a victim on the route described the development as worrisome and a threat to the peace of the communities in the axis.
Oba Agunloye however called for the sitting of a formation of the Nigerian Army in the area to stem the tide and possibly stop the activities of the men of the underworld.
Equally, the Alauga urged the government to increase the number of Police Posts in the area while the number of the security personnel in the area should be increased, saying the current number is grossly inadequate to monitor and secured the communities.
He also canvassed for a motorised security patrol while calling on government to provide up to date equipment and security surveillance instruments to the police.
In her view, the regent of Akunnu, Princess Tolani Orogun who said kidnapping in the area is a reverberating issue, said it has turned communities in the area into shadows of themselves.
Princess Orogun said the occurrence has continued to drive investors away from the area and a clog in the wheel of development in the area.
She however called for the promulgation of law that will make kidnapping a capital offence and punishable with death.
According to her, this will make people think twice before going into the criminal act.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Tee-Leo Ikoro who spoke on this development, said fighting crime and criminality especially kidnapping is a collaborative effort of all and sundry.
He explained that, the police has met with traditional rulers and village heads in the affected communities to see the best way to solve the kidnapping problem in the areas.
The police spokesman hinted that necessary security strategies are being mapped out to curb the menace adding that the police will engage the local vigilante operatives to help solve crime related issues happening in the state.
Reacting to the potholes on the road, the State Commissioner for Works, Saka Yusuf said Ondo State government is concerned about all bad spots in the state and is planning to repair them.
He further assured people of the area that as soon as the government moved to the Akoko axis, the area would be given priority.
A lecturer at the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, whose relation was kidnapped at the same spot warned that unless those behind the business of kidnapping are identified and taken out, the kidnappers would continue to abduct people because it is the quickest means of making money.
The lecturer who preferred not to be named said the business is a well coordinated one in which the involvement of some security agents might not be ruled out.