The terrifying wave of dread that is sweeping across the northern region of the nation is made worse by the daily rise in kidnappings, murders, and extensive property damage.
The fact that the globe has become a global village has made it much simpler for whatever is happening in one region of the world to travel to another. As a result, insecurity, which was previously believed to be a problem in the north, has now expanded to the country’s southern regions.
According to reports, northern terrorists are reportedly retreating daily to the south-west. It has been more frequent to see hundreds of northerners being carried to the South-West on an hourly basis in trucks since Kwara State and Oyo State, a crucial state in the South-West region, share borders.
Many have argued that governments in the area should pay closer attention to the massive relocating of people into the region to prevent terrorists from migrating with law-abiding citizens and turning the region into another hotbed of terrorism. With the influx of northerners comes the fear of terrorists spreading and building new cells in towns and villages in the South-West.
However, the Oyo State administration has started to take action to eliminate some productive areas that escaping militants can utilize as a hideout.
The temporary market at the Mobil location near the Ring Road is one such location. Apparently, the state administration gave the market vendors a notice to vacate but was hesitant to knock down the buildings. However, the crisis that broke out there approximately two weeks ago gave the governor the motivation to order the market’s complete demolition.
Our correspondent noticed that traders and Okada (commercial motorcycle) riders had started to congregate there once more when they visited the wrecked market.
Although the demolition of the market hurt some of the vendors since it had a detrimental impact on their sales, others claimed that it was a good thing because criminals had turned the area into their hideout.
One of the vendors, who gave his name as Abimbola Oluremi, claimed that criminals from both the North and the South were free to operate in several shanties close to the market and that things could have become much worse if the government had not taken the necessary action.
Oluremi said, “The demolition came as a respite to some of us, including the landlords and residents of this area. This is an entrance to Oluyole Estate, Extension and other areas, but the activities of hoodlums turned it into a dreadful place, especially at night. Phones were snatched frequently, and even motorcycles.
“If a criminal runs into the midst of his colleagues over there, that is the end. Nobody could go there to fish him out. Those involved are northern youths and their Yoruba collaborators. They smoked cannabis, drank all manner of hard drugs, including the one they called, Colorado, and the place was turned into a den of criminals. Demolishing it is a good riddance to bad rubbish.”
Babatunde Sumonu, a different shopkeeper, claimed that although customers felt protected, sales had been impacted. However, he was glad that despite the demolition, the security forces were able to constantly patrol the area and acquire information to thwart any moves the displaced criminals could be making.
Sumonu said, “The Mobil area is known for crime because of the way businesses operate there. Some of us still sell here, as you can see despite the demolition, but the volume of business we transact has been greatly reduced because of the demolition.”
“However, another trader, Lucky Daniel, said, “The demolition is affecting everybody, including those buying from us. I don’t support crime, but the government ought to have made an alternative arrangement before demolishing the market
“Not everybody can go to big supermarkets to buy the few things they need. This was the place they came to, but that opportunity is no longer there now.”
“They can build shopping complexes here and organise the market in a way that will make it impossible for criminals to operate there. That is the work of the government. Those of them in authority should reason well to address problems and not create bigger problems to solve smaller ones.”
The state government also moved beggars and homeless northerners in 2021 from places like Mokola, Jemibewon Road, and Sabo to a resettlement site in Akinyele.
Seyi Makinde, the governor of the state, has declared that his administration will start cracking down on any commercial motorcycle riders who refuse to register with the state government shortly.
The governor acknowledged that certain criminals riding Okadas posed a security risk, but added that since the industry employed a large number of law-abiding citizens, his administration would sanitize it rather than outright forbid it.
He claimed that in order to stop terrorists and other criminals disguised as Okada riders from operating in the state, it is now crucial to register commercial motorcycles and the riders who ride them. The operator’s names, phone numbers, and addresses were also collected as part of the registration process, he said, adding that this information would make it simple to track any Okada that was used to commit a crime anywhere in the state.
He said that the Oyo State Road Transport Management Authority has been instructed to detain anyone who refuses to register in order to enforce compliance. He emphasized that registering was the first step for any commercial motorbike operator before beginning operations in the state.
Oba Francis Alao, the deputy chairman of the Oyo State Council of Obas, praised Governor Seyi Makinde in an interview, praising him in particular for his efforts to guarantee that kidnappers and other criminals were driven out of the Surulere Local Government Area of the state’s people and forests.
According to reports, during the “Clearance Operation” in Sabo-Igbon, soldiers and Amotekun turned over a tea kiosk (Mai tea kiosk) and discovered firearms inside. The operation was carried out in response to a string of kidnappings in the area and the murders of Olugbenga Owolabi, a hotelier living in the US, Racheal Opadele, a final-year LAUTECH student, and the motorcycle employed to demand ransom from the kidnappers.
Soldiers and Amotekun searched the forests in Gambari, Gbede, Jabata, and other local government areas. The security officers also searched brothels, stalls, and other gathering places, discovering army uniforms, weapons, and making arrests.
Dr. Steve Abioye, the secretary general of the Coalition of Yoruba Self-Determination Groups, claimed in a conversation with one of our reporters that the governors of the South-West were not doing enough to prevent terrorist attacks in the area.
Abioye stated: “South-west governors are not doing enough at all. It appears they don’t know the dangerous situation in which we are now. Perhaps they are not taking the issue seriously because of their political interests. They seem not to bear in mind that if the President, who has a larger security detail around him, can be attacked and almost kidnapped, then kidnapping or eliminating a governor can’t be difficult for the terrorists.
“The South-West governors need to, as a matter of urgency, encourage local government areas and every community in their states to have vigilantes who work round the clock.
“Our governors should push to get sophisticated weapons like AK 47 or even AK 49 for Amotekun in their respective states. If possible, submachine guns, because the terrorists are not even carrying AK-47 again, they have graduated to submachine guns.”
According to analysts, it is a positive development that some of the possible epicenters of criminal activity have been demolished. They emphasize that the government must take all necessary measures to protect the residents of the South Western states from the terrorism threat that looms over them.