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Rising Armed Banditry And Kidnapping In The Kukurukus

By KASSIM OMOOMA 20-09-2011

The Police High Command in Abuja recently expressed grave concerns over the unabated kidnappings in Afemai land specifically the recent growing abduction of persons in Fugar and environs, and the upsurge in armed robbery along the Auchi/ Okpella, Okene /Abuja highway, following which the Inspector General of police, directed the state command to fish out the perpetrators and bring them to book.

The order necessitated a change of guard in the Auchi Area Command and Fugar Divisional police Headquarter, specifically, in which some men of the division were redeployed and a new divisional police officer transferred to the community not only once known for peace and tranquility, and boasts of personalities of no mean characters, but devastated by the insurgence of kidnapping and banditry.

Recent criminalities in the Kukuruku which is the present day Afemai land or Edo north senatorial district of Edo state, especifially the unresolved kidnappings in Fugar, which is just now having its share of brigandage presently puts the area in the eyes of the nation’s security agencies.

Aside prostitution and armed robbery which are old trades in the history of Nigeria, kidnapping as a trade or a vice was alien to the amiable people of Afemai land, otherwise known in those days as the Kukurukus. Sundry and few cases of burglary and small thefts were the order of the day until recently when high profile bank robbery and criminality which sometimes and unfortunately occurred unchallenged crept into the localities.

In Agenebode, Jattu, Afuze, Sabon-Gida Ora, Okpella and Auchi, these bank robberies and vices are the same in form and operational styles, occasionally leaving some of the victims dead or maimed.

Kidnappings however began to rear its ugly head in the kukuruku highlands hitherto known for its ambience and serenity at the apogee of the spill over of the Niger Delta militancy before the amnesty consideration by late president Umaru Musa Yaradua and also as a result of the army of unemployed youths, majority of whom have identified with various cult groups.

But high level security reports sourced from police headquarters in Abuja, revealed that the advent of kidnappings in the area followed the army of unemployed youths, majority of whom have identified with one cult group or the other.

According to security report ‘ the kidnappers are often elicited or groomed from the various cult groups which not only domicile in the major cities of the state but have sprawled to the neighboring localities within the state.

From the police diary it was uncovered that the CMD of a government specialist hospital and a popular lecturer of the polytechnic in Auchi were the first victims of the pockets of kidnappings that later became the trade mark of brigandage in Auchi and environs before it finally snowballed to Fugar where it has stayed endlessly.

Auchi has known peace shortly after some of its own whose complicity the police is still investigating were arrested. But Notwithstanding the fragile peace in the Afemai community, the activities of KIDNAPPING is creating sleepless nights for the Fugar people who now sleep with their two eyes opened.

Precisely before 2003 and the post General Abacha military and political era, there were no inklings of cultism or cult related activities in Fugar, from where the police confirm to this paper that armed bandits and kidnappers are allegedly groomed or recruited. Full blown cult showdown began in the sleepy town at the height of high level politicking ahead of the 2003 general elections, where in that elections and subsequent ones, politicians ferried cultists from neighboring states and approximating tertiary institutions within the vicinity of the community to undo their opponents with the utmost intent to win elections.

This despicable, do or die, styled character of the politicians, perhaps aggravated the propensity of cult patronage which now degenerated into a large scale or pool and army of bandits where political thugs can be shopped for at any rate and in no mean price tag.
Apparently For a pot of porridge, a soul can be priced and resultantly attacked in questionable circumstances that will in time put the security agencies napping and looking for atoms of clues that may or may not help unearth or unravel the perpetrators.

That is the sorry state of FUGAR, the headquarters of Etsako central local government area council which has not only begun to have its toll of unprecedented banditry and criminalities but to date has the highest number of recoded kidnapping cases to its credit.

Her present state is pathetic that the indigenes are helpless for fear of being the next victim. Every self styled important person and those who have well to do daughters and sons now court either the patronage of the special mobile police security outfits or deploy an improvised decoy to checkmate the unwarranted visitor that might come calling at any nick of time.
Fugar as it were, is a community populated by peasant farmers in spite that it is the seat of Etsako central local government council. It has the foremost prestigious ST Johns college located in it where an array of educated and civilized indigenes and other Nigerians as well were trained and schooled, but unfortunately the sorry story of the community as an emerging home of bandits is so worrisome for its people majority of whom stand tall among their peers as highly respectable personalities in the comity of states in Nigeria. These personalities have contributed immensely to the development of Edo state and Nigeria..

But however, the recent indulgent by some of the youths in criminality has put the once tranquil community in national and global discourse.

Recent security reports sourced by the weekend Observer from the Louis Edet House, Headquarters of the Nigeria police in Abuja, gave fugar away as an emerging and high profile abode of kidnapping in Edo state and the country following its strategic location between the north and the south.

According to the Security sources at the force headquarters, it emphasized that the nucleus point of Fugal as being close to Agenebode, a riverine area that connects the Northern states through Idah In Kogi state as well as the south east, via, Onitsha in Anambra state and through Sabongida Ora for the south west, aptly puts the once peaceful community as a high volatile area for banditry.

This present case of Fugar, rumored to be a kidnapper’s den and now a conclave of sundry vices stem from two or three very obvious reasons. One is the abundance of unemployed graduates and school leavers in the community, some whom may have embraced some vices because an idle man may seldom be the devils work tools and two, the helplessness of the divisional police in the area. And thirdly the high patronage by some unscrupulous politicians in the area to do the youths into crimes, not limited to political crimes like ballot box stuffing and ballot box snatching, according to security sources but also not restricted to acts of vendetta and vengeance by physical assaults.

But the Police in Fugar told the weekend paper that because these future leaders are not gainfully employed they in turn find leeway into cultism that has gained prominence in the area such that it has become fashionable to identify with one group, one as a mode of protecting yourself and two as a means of classifying yourself as one who has arrived in the social strata of the community.

According to the source,” even it has become so critical that the place has become an abode which the catchment tertiary institutions within and outside the environs use to initiate cultists.
Ironically, just as the unfortunate brigandage which rears its ugly head on the peace of the community grows in arithmetic proportion, the security decoys to checkmate the unfortunate menace seem geometric and inadequate, or not there at all.

Further checks However, by this tabloid and corroborated by a high placed officer in the divisional police headquarters in Fugar, confirmed to this paper that they are handicapped.’ From lack of logistics, to inadequate manpower and sophisticated arms and weaponry to stand the superior fire power of the armed bandits, we really have no much to give,” the officer confided in this paper. He noted that the local government council has not helped matters neither has the Fugar community collaborated with them’. “Even in this era of community policing as presently propagated by the Inspector General of police, Ogbonna Onovo. “ Nothing seem to be working for us here. Look at the DPO’s residence that has collapsed for some time now, nobody has come to our rescue to fix the place. As we speak our DPO does not have a house over his head”

Continuing, the officer added, ”We have scattered communities like Ogbonna, Fugar, Iraohkor, Ekperi and Anegbette clans which are riverine areas to deal with without commensurate manpower and logistics to effectively man the beats” he said.

Besides the litany of challenges faced by the divisional police, it was revealed that top politicians in the area may not be helping the police for the security well being in the area.
According to police sources in Fugar, “most of the politicians and political office holders in government patronize these army of unemployed youths most of them cultists to the detriment of the police that is saddled with the statutory role to protect the people and (they) the politicians”. This development it is reported has left the police helpless, the weekend observer found out.

“ For if a political office holder decides to have a cultist who can also be a kidnapper or an assassin, as his chief security officer, how will cultism and kidnapping as well as brigandage not thrive in the community or area and threaten the overall peace of the people” the police queried.

The division also complained of how these top government officials intimidate them each time their agents and cronies, majority who are brigands are arrested for one misdemeanor or the other, the situation which they further noted, has compounded their problems.

But in a recent wire message to the division through the Edo State police command, this paper was told that the Inspector General of Police, Ogbonna Onovo has directed the command to flush out miscreants from the area irrespective of who their godfathers are, and whatever political leanings they have.

Force headquarters sources confirmed to this paper that the new directive informed the recent raids by the division and led by the Divisional police office himself, one, Mr. Monday, a superintendent of police who has clear directives to bring sanity back to the place

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