Kogi: Agonising tales of terrorism
Striking in two quick successions, terrorists suddenly put Okene, Kogi State, on the spot with palpable fear gripping the land all through last week. Security operatives have been keeping vigil to forestall another session of bloodletting. Yekini Jimoh writes on the issues at stake.
THE Ebira-speaking people of Kogi State are the second largest ethnic nationality in the state after the Igala.
Okene, the headquarters of Ebiraland, serves as a hub and a gateway for people travelling from the South to northern part of the country. The Ebira are mostly Muslims and are peace-loving, educated and well travelled.
Ebiraland has, however, been in the news lately when some terrorists struck and, in their familiar manner of operation, shed innocent blood, a development that left the rest of Nigeria sulking and stunned. What led to the act of terrorism in Kogi State started manifesting from last November and early this year when bomb factories were discovered in some parts of Ebiraland. Before then, series of bank robberies and bombing of police stations had occurred. With the incident, innocent security agents who were on duty were also murdered.
Today, Ebiraland is becoming the den of terrorists, particularly with the discovery of weapons, including guns and materials used in bomb manufacturing, by the security operatives. So far, over 17 dangerous criminals have been apprehended by the Kogi State Police Command. Penultimate Monday at Otite, Adavi Local Government Council of the State, the Kogi Police command smoked out some suspected criminals at Okene, after a Deeper Life Bible Church was attacked by gun men at about 9pm. No fewer than 20 persons lost their lives in the attack. The following day, a Central Mosque in Okene was attacked by gun men. Two military officers and two gun men lost their lives in the process.
Parading the suspects before newsmen in Lokoja, the State Police Commissioner, Mr Muhammed Katsina, said the operatives also recovered 19 anti-personnel locally made bombs, 1,501 rounds of AK 47 live ammunition, pump guns and other dangerous weapons, together with 11 different cars. Also recovered were improvise explosive devises (IED), mobile armoury, a Volkswagen Golf car with registration number Kano KMC 826 XA, 16 anti-tank Locally made bombs, eight charged and eight un-charged, and seven units of power source. Other similar items included four units of AK 47 rifles, one Mark 4 Rifle, five automatic pump action rifles, 21 single barrel guns and three locally made pistols.The police also recovered 17 rounds of Markrov live ammunition, 23 rounds of brownie Pistok ammunition, 17 rounds of Berretta ammunition, three rounds of Mark 4 ammunition, 53 cartridges, five expended and two locally made bullet proof vetsts and charms.
Katsina also paraded one Abdullahi Kolawole from Ibadan, Oyo State, who, he said, killed two visiting mobile policemen at Okene. He said another suspect now in police custody, Raimi Shaidu aka, Ken Ken, a popular shoe maker, was the mastermind of several robbery attacks on banks and police stations in the state. Shaidu, he said, confessed to have personally killed one sergeant Yisa in Okene and taken away his rifle in 2010. According to the Police Commissioner, the intelligence unit of the police command was fully on the ground to track down those behind criminal activities in the state.
Some stakeholders in the Kogi Central Senatorial District, who reviewed the growing incidence of gangsterism in Okene, blamed it on the strategic location of the area and the mix of people who populate it. In the opinion of many, since Ebira people are predominantly Muslims while a good number could speak Hausa language fluently, this made it easy for terrorists to penetrate evil in the area. Such a penetration in places like Okun or Igala may not be easy because the people are predominantly Christians.
The rising wave of bloodletting in Kogi State has also been traced to the antics of politicians. Politicians, during electioneering periods, had reportedly hired thugs and personal guards who they equipped with dangerous weapons, all in their desperation to win elections. But the story of the romance between politicians and thugs always turns sour mostly after elections have been won and lost. That is when the thugs, who had become used to free meals and sustained stipends from paymasters to perpetrate evil, get dumped like a hot potato. The hoodlums who feel dumped would then have no alternative than to take to crime, using the weapons in their possession as a tool for terrorising his victims.
Already, the state governor, Captain Idris Wada, has been taking steps to curtail the situation. He has called on traditional rulers in Kogi Central to wake up to their social responsibilities. For instance, the governor had entreated the Ohinoyi of Ebira land, Alhaji Dr Ado Ibrahim, to call his subjects to order as the increasing wave of criminal activities in his area of domain, according to the Wada, had been portraying the people in bad light.
In addition, Wada, shortly after the gory incidents, had declared a dusk to dawn curfew in Okene, while he also provided seven Hilux Vans for the security agents in the state. A Senator representing Kogi Central at the National Assembly, Senator Nurudeen Abatemi-Usman, has also called on the security agents to intensify their fight against terrorist activities in the country. He has also urged ordinary citizens to be more vigilant and security- conscious to help weed out perpetrators of evil in their communities.
Abatemi-Usman made the call in a statement issued by his Special Assistant on Media, Michael Jegede, to condemn the Monday night attack on the Deeper Life Church at Otite. He condemned act of terrorism in the state, just as he commiserated with families of the deceased, praying for the quick recovery of the injured.
Since the incident occurred, security operatives have been combing the hot spots amid the curfew imposed by the state government, while subjecting inter-state travellers to thorough checks as part of measures to prevent further outbreaks of terror in the state.Share