GOVERNORS of the six states in the southwest geo-political zone have acquired patrol vehicles and the necessary equipment ahead of the launching of a regional security outfit put together to address the growing incidences of kidnapping.
Of late, southwest Nigeria has become a haven for kidnappers and hoodlums as armed Fulani herdsmen have taken over many of the highways in the zone, setting up illegal roadblocks and ambushing vehicles. They have also established forest camps where they take their victims and hold them until ransoms are paid or kill them if their relatives refuse to oblige.
Amid rising tension, the governors of the six states met and decided to launch a regional security outfit to address the problem. Brigadier Ebenezer Ogundana, a special adviser on security to the Ekiti State governor, said the security outfit would be launched soon, with final plans being concluded.
Brigadier Ogundana added: “The six governors are still meeting, speaking with one voice that this region must be safe. Everything is set, almost all the states have got their vehicles.
“We have got ours in Ekiti, security vehicles must have communication gadgets and we are at that level now. What actually delayed the take-off this month was the fact that every vehicle must have the equipment.
“Three weeks ago the governors’ security advisers met in Ibadan to study the proposal and how it could take-off and the governors also got approval from the Office of the National Security Adviser to set up that outfit. What we are doing now is getting the logistics together, each state is acquiring its own vehicles and we want to brand the vehicles.
“We will be deploying them along the roads so that people will move freely. We want to make our roads safe for travellers because if you don’t have security, you can’t have investments.”
According to Brigadier Ogundana, the security task force will consist of soldiers, police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps officers. He added: “We will also use vigilantes, Oodua People’s Congress members, Peace Corps, forest guards and hunters as these are the people who understand the terrain very well.
“We are not going to limit ourselves to the roads, we are going to occupy our forests and smoke the criminal elements out because we know our people are afraid to go to their farms now. We want to get men and legislation in place so that we can take off.”
According to Brigadier Ogunlana, the inauguration of the task force earlier billed for this month was postponed because of the need to put our logistics in place. Ekiti State information commissioner Muyiwa Olumilua, added that the southwest governors came together to form a united front to battle criminality and they came up with the arrangement of a security outfit.