By OLUSESAN LAOYE
Fear of attacks and abduction in schools in the South west is now growing, as bandits and kidnappers seem to be changing tactics and targeting them. In recent times, schools in the North west have been attacked by bandits and several students taken away and only released after payment of huge ransoms.
Forth night ago bandit had invade a school in Uromi and took away four students and two staff, which was the first time of its occurrence in the south, raising concerns whether this would be a new normal, as evident in the north west.
The latest of the incident was the abduction of two female students of the Olabisi Onabanjo University Ogo Iwoye in Aiyetoro Ogun state.
The students were said to have returned from an outing when the gun men said to have missed their original target, a recharge card seller, pounced on them and whisked them way to an unknown destination.
Although the kidnapped girls have been released, the South West is still not safe for students, as that was not the only incident recorded in the less than a month. Before the abduction of the Olabisi Onabajo university students, there had been reported cases in Federal University, Oye in Ekiti State.
The Oye incident was pathetic as the two male students said to have been attacked by bandits suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, were killed and their dead bodies dumped on the road.
In Oyo state,at Apete area Ibadan Metropolis, which is predominantly the settlers of students of the Polytechnic of Ibadan and the University of Ibadan, four people believed to be students working to earn a living were reportedly kidnapped in a poultry farm, while, eight people were killed in the same axis by suspected Fulani bandits while they were sleeping in their farm houses.
Another one that tied the hands of the Oyo State government was prevented in a primary school at Lanlate in Ibarapa area of Oyo state where Fulani herdsmen with their cows invaded the school, closed in on the students and their teachers to abduct them.
The teachers raised alarm which attracted nearby villagers, who alerted the Sunday Ogboho men patrolling the area.
The schools alone were not the targets in the new wave of operations of the herdsmen, they now operate on the highways, in a manner where they will strike and withdraw, so that no one would be able to locate their movement or leaving any clue that could lead to their arrest.
From all indications and the experience of victims, the bandits have adopted new strategies of operation.
It was also learnt that their new tactics is as a result of their being driven away from the forest and destruction of Fulani settlements by local militia across the South west, especially in Ogun, Oyo and Ondo States.
Terrorists, with the way they operate now, are getting more brazen as they are no longer afraid to operate in densely populated areas.
It was also gathered that abductions now show the growing strength of criminals in Nigeria and the weakness of governments and security operatives.
Already there is renewed anxiety among parents over the new the targets of schools by bandits and they are calling for security in schools.
A school proprietor in Ibadan told BusinessHallmark that with the situations of things and report that South West schools are now pruned to attack by bandits and kidnappers, this could affect enrolment in many private schools with boarding facilities and hostels, especially, all girls schools.
She therefore, called on the government to adopt a new method of protecting the pulpils in schools, both private and public, especially, schools situated in villages, where herdsmen could gain easy access to.
The issues of the abduction of the students of Ago Iwoye and other instititions in the South West now calls for the review of the accommodation system in our tertiary Institutions, where some students rent houses in remote areas of their campuses. It also calls for a new approach in policing the students in the region for adequate security.
The governors of the states have vowed that they would now close in on the bandits with the local hunters and vigilante to work with Amoteku, while they would be more empowered to protect the people.
The governor of Oyo State whose state is more controversial on issue of security, Governor Seyi Makinde has assured that Amotekun and other local security outfits, would be adequately funded to protect the state against criminals.
The Deputy Registrar Corporate Affairs of the Olabisi Onabanjo University Mr. Niyi Oduwale who reacted to the incident that affected the female students, said, that the institution would not relent in its efforts to ensure the safety of students.
He said the quick intervention of the school authorities and the concern shown by the people led to the rescue of the affected students, while he warned students to watch their movements and the type of companies they keep.
The Ogun State Police Command said that security has been beefed up in the state to arrest the issues of kidnapping and various crimes.
According to the Police Public Relation Officer for the Command, Mr. Abimbola Oyeyemi, the combined team of police detectives and Anti kidnapping Squad, led by the Area commander in Aiyetoro rescued of the girls.
Also the Oyo state police command has assured that it was working to ensure the protection of the people adding, that criminals would not be spared. The State Police Public Relation Officer Gbenga Fedeyi said “we are doing our best to make sure that our men arrest criminals because the command has zero tolerance for criminals.”
What, however, brought hope for the people of the South West and allaying their fears was the Pan Yoruba enlarged meeting held at Mapo Hall in Ibadan, where a new security system was fashioned out.
The Outfit would be the combination of Odua People Congress, local hunters, Amotekun, the Agbekoyas vigilante groups with other native security outfits.