The security situation in Owan East and Owan West LGAs, Edo State is said to be gradually degenerating into a semblance of the proverbial Hobbbesian "State of nature", where life is brutish, nasty and short. No thanks to the activities of dare devil armed robbers and kidnappers, who have reportedly set up camps in forests, from where they plan and execute their criminal activities.

These incidents are said to have increased in recent times. Although hard data is not readily available, most of the cases are either unreported or unsolved. The Akure-Uzebba-Ekpoma, Aduze-Uokha-Auchi and the Sabongida-Ozalla roads known as hot spots for these heinous crimes.

An example of such is the case of Mr Samuel Johnson (not real name), who narrated to Eons intelligence how a family and a commercial motor cyclist were kidnapped recently and taken into the bush somewhere around the Uzeba-Benin-Auchi road. The kidnappers reportedly demanded a ransom of N10 million. 

Residents of these communities, especially those on the borders say the incidents happen almost on a daily basis. A security personnel from Oukha who prefers to speak under anonymity, for obvious reasons, says the ugly incidents of armed robberies and kidnappings are soaring in numbers, due to collaborations between various criminal interests in the area. 

He called on the Edo State and Federal Government to pay more attention to security issues in these areas. He says the Police seems to have been overwhelmed by the escalating situation. He called on the State and Federal Government to increase the logistics and intelligence capacities of the Police to ensure more effectiveness and efficiency in the State.

"This is a slippery slope, security-wise. We can not afford to continue like this. What we have now is a situation where people want to take the laws into their hands, in the guise of self help or local policing. The vigilantes are armed. Some locals and farmers are armed."

"Then, there are armed Fulani herdsmen in the picture as well. The question is who controls how these arms are used? Who licenced these arms? Are they registered? What do you think happens when these armed men go rogue? What if they decide to go after their real or imagined enemies, for various reasons? This is the sad reality and it is the direct result of Government's failure in its responsibilities."

"Some survivors have told us how organised some of these criminals are. They use sophisticated weapons and decentralised camps. They are said to have camps set up in different areas for logistics, arms and hostages. The Government should please come to our rescue from the kidnappers and armed robbers in Owan East and West."

When asked if the Fulani armed men are majorly responsible for most of the kidnapp for ransom activities in Owan, as it is insinuated by some, he answered in the negative. He said; "Crime knows no tribe. You do not solve or reduce crime by approaching it from a tribal scope.

There are no tribes of criminals or criminal tribes anywhere in the world. What happens is situations or habits lead people to crime. All tribes have the propensity to commit crime. The challenge here is the proliferation of arms. There are too many unlicensed weapons in the hands of people who are not legally and constitutionally allowed to posses them in the first place."

Recall that Owan was in the news on July 18th, this year when youths from the community mobilised and rescued some victims who were allegedly kidnapped and taken into a bush. In the process, they successfully smoked the criminal out but instead of handing them over to the Police, as they law dictates, they burnt five suspects alive along the Afuze-Uokha road in Owan West LGA.

The youths in their numbers reportedly resisted all peaceful and forceful entreaties from the Police and Vigilante group to hand the victims over to the Police. 

Although the actions of the youths were lauded in certain quarters as bravery or gallantry, due in part to a people's perceived need for their pound of flesh. It still does not make sense to solve a crime with another crime.

The security situation exposes and make bare, the lapses in the existing formal security structure. People are losing confidence in constituted security authorites. This trend could spell doom in the future if not nipped in the bud now. 

Consequently, members of the communities have not only lost hope in the ability of the Police to secure lives and property, they have also resorted to self help through the use of local vigilantes and other local security groups . That in itself comes with a social cost.

For instance, there are concerns over destruction of evidence at crime scenes, political witch hunting and jungle justice. The law of the land is against all these. All suspects or criminals deserve their day in court. 

Indegenes and residents of Owan and neighbouring communities therefore call on the State Government and Commisioner of Police to come to their aid as the towns have now become shadows of their former selfs.

Business owners are said to be winding up businesses and relocating from the communities while farming activities have been drastically reduced. All these can only lead to a reduction in people's propensity to save or spend, which is an economic and by extension, security threath in itself. 

Follow us on Twitter @eonsintelligenc and get exclusive news as it breaks



Join WhatApp Group