How To Stop Kidnapping In Ekiti State By Femi Falana
Last week, Mr. Ayo Fayose, the governor of Ekiti state was reported to have sent SOS to the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, over the increasing wave of kidnapping sweeping across the state. In urging the Police Chief to attend promptly to the concern expressed by the governor, I am compelled to point out that the state government has itself to blame for deliberately providing official cover for armed gangs and other criminally minded individuals who have taken over the monopoly of violence in Ekiti state. For instance, the House of Assembly complex has been occupied by armed lumpen elements since November last year with the connivance of the state government.
In the atmosphere of impunity which currently obtains in the country the well known armed thugs operating in Ekiti state have been granted immunity by the federal government. Hence, police officers are under strict instructions not to arrest or prosecute any of them.
Recently, a Commissioner of Police who was determined to rid the state of kidnapping, armed robbery and other violent crimes was queried and investigated by the Police Service Commission. Even though he was not indicted in the dubious probe set up by the police authorities the Police Service Commission ensured that he was removed and posted out of the state.
Based on such official endorsement of criminality, kidnappers and other criminal elements have been having a field day in Ekiti state.
Indeed, the crisis of maintaining law and order in the state has been compounded by the 6-month old industrial action of judicial workers. Thus, for the past 6 months, no criminal suspect has been charged to court while all criminal cases pending in the various magistrate and high courts in the state have been adjourned sine die.
I have confirmed that the kidnappers who made the state ungovernable from 2009-2010 and who were on trial before the Kogi state high court at Lokoja escaped from prison during a recent jail break.
Having not been declared wanted by the Prison Authorities the criminals are alleged to have resumed the nefarious business of kidnapping in Ekiti state.
It is on record that Ekiti state has consistently witnessed politically motivated killings since 2003. To the credit of the Police and the State Security Service, all the suspected murderers and their sponsors were nabbed and charged to court at various times. But apart from the killers of two students who were convicted in 2005, the alleged killers of Tunde Omojola, Ayo Daramola, Kehinde Fasuba, Foluso Ogundare and others are walking free in the society due to political pressure exerted on the security agencies.
Since the files of all the murder cases are in the custody of the Police, the Inspector-General of Police ought to re-arrest and prosecute the suspects in order to restore law and order in Ekiti state.
In addition, the Inspector-General should prevail on Governor Fayose to realize that as the chief security officer of Ekiti state he has enormous constitutional responsibility to maintain law and order.
As a matter of urgency, he should be made to distance himself from criminality and allow the police to disband and disarm the armed thugs who have been linked with kidnapping and other grave criminal activities. Finally, the Governor should emulate his colleagues in a number of states who have succeeded in persuading judicial workers to call off their strike. A state where judges are beaten up by thugs and courts are locked up indefinitely cannot genuinely guarantee law and order.