2023 polls and fears of Insecurity in Oyo 

BAYO AGBOOLA writes that insecurity has taken a frightening  toll on the electioneering campaigns in Oyo state as evidenced by the accusations and counter accusations by political parties and their supporters  against one another and the  consequent arrest and arraignment of some suspects in the state

 Verbal war by political actors 

Among the three major political parties in Oyo state, namely, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Accord, it has been verbal wars. 

Accusation of billboards destructions have become rife across the state by suspected  hoodlums allegedly working for the ruling party in the state, forcing the Oyo state police command to issue a strong warning to the hoodlums to stop such or face the wrath of law.

In one of its complaints, APC  expressed concerns over what it described as alarming trend of threat and intimidation on opposition elements by a syndicate of violent persons allegedly believed to be working for the the ruling party in the state, asking the police command and other security agencies in the state to look into the matter with a view to nipping it in the bud ahead of the next general election.

This is, especially, on the cases of incessant vandalism of billboards and posters bearing the logo of opposition parties as well as photographs of some political figures who are not of the PDP as allegedly being carried out by some thugs suspected to be from a faction of the proscribed National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) who are now accommodated in the Park Management System (PMS) of Makinde administration.

APC in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Olawale Sadare in Oyo state accused Makinde of allegedly creating an enabling environment “for miscreants and thugs to operate freely in the state in order to subject hapless citizens including opposition elements to perpetual fear and intimidation”. 

The statement further said, “for some time now, certain disgruntled elements in the society have made it a duty to pounce on any outdoor advertising material such as billboards, signboards, posters etc seen around with the inscription of any other political party apart from the PDP and destroy them under 24 hours in most cases. 

“The same thugs accost and harass every innocent person who is found to be putting on vest, t-shirt, cap or hand-band with the inscription or logo of the APC or any other opposition party especially on the streets of Ibadan- the state capital. They carry out these dastardly acts mostly around Iwo Road, Agodi-Gate, Ojoo, Challenge, Ife Road, Mokola-UI Road and Monatan-Olodo axis of Ibadan”. 

Oyo APC added, “a particular incident was recorded around Iwo Road Interchange recently where some widows, who had received gifts of packaged rice grains from the secretariat of the APC in Egbeda Local Government Area, were waylaid by some PMS thugs and had all the grains wasted because they were said to be carrying food items in bags with APC logo. 

“In view of the grave danger which the renewed acts of lawlessness and brigandage from the state government – backed political thugs portend to the smooth running of electioneering by different political parties as well as the free conduct of 2023 general elections, it is imperative for all the security apparatuses of the federal government operating in Oyo state to swing into action immediately and stop the dangerous activities of these thugs whose identities are not hidden to the general public.” 

Aside the destruction of billboards, APC also said it identified what the party termed “lack of political will and insincerity on the part of Governor Seyi Makinde as the major reason for the worsening security situation in the state”. 

The major opposition party in the state claimed that “available reports indicate that cases of organised crime and security breach have been on the increase in parts of the state in recent times with residents lamenting over seeming helplessness of the state government and the security agencies in tackling kidnappers, armed robbers, ritual killers, political thuggery, among others, who now strike at will and subject their victims to untold agony and pains.”

Accusing the PDP administration in the state of paying a lip service to matters relating to improving the security architecture of the state, APC stressed, “for some weeks now, there have been daily reports  of armed robbery and kidnapping on Ibadan-Ijebu-Ode and Ibadan-Lagos expressway.  

“Without mincing words, the daunting problem of insecurity in the nooks and crannies of Oyo state would be drastically addressed if Gov. Makinde decide to take the bull by its horn. 

“First, he should establish the necessary synergy with other stakeholders including all the security agencies and also stop treating the menace of miscreants with kids’ glove. 

“It is high time the governor made realised that no government can fight invading criminals successfully while keeping and indulging thugs and miscreants for locally for political engagement and ego massaging.” 

CP’s intervention 

Upon the series of reports and complaints of alleged destruction of political party billboards in some parts of the state last weekend, Oyo state Commissioner of Police, Adebowale Williams ordered full scale investigation into the allegations.

He warned political bigwigs and other stakeholders in and across the state to put a leash on their overzealous loyalists and supporters who are driven by the ideologies of enforcing dominance and territorialism through needless aggression and violence.

The command in a statement emphasised that it would leave no stone unturned in its quest for the sustainability of the relative peace and tranquility enjoyed in the state, saying, “the Oyo state police command under the constructive leadership of CP Adebowale Williams psc (+) fdc wishes to reiterate its resolve to leave no stone unturned in its quest for the sustainability of the relative peace and tranquility enjoyed in the state.”

Consequent upon the above, the Commissioner of Police ordered the Deputy Commissioner of Police in Charge of the State Criminal Investigation Department to commence full-scale investigations into the alleged destruction of party billboards in some parts of the state over the weekend by some unscrupulous and criminal minded agents of mischief and anarchy.

The CP said, “Parents, guardians and leaders of varying degrees of influence should prevail on their wards against being used as canon-fodder and destructive tools, the command warns that anyone caught disturbing the peace or inciting violence through deeds or otherwise shall be decisively dealt with in accordance with relevant laws and statutes of the federation.”

The arrests, arraignment

Following its warning with action, Oyo state police command last Thursday arrested and arraigned the 61 years old Chairman of state Motor Parks Management (PMS), Disciplinary Committee Mukaila Lamidi, otherwise known as ‘Auxiliary’ before a Magistrate Court sitting in Ibadan over alleged destruction of All Progressives Congress billboards (including that of  the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Tinubu among (others).

They were arrested and arrainged on six-count charge “bordering on conspiracy, malicious damage and conduct likely to cause breach of peace and alleged conspiracy with others now at large.” 

Few hours after Mukaila Lamidi

was arraigned and granted bail, at a parley with PMS leaders from across the state, he was spotted  handing down strong warning to members of the body to steer clear of any billboards or posters of political parties in the state particularly those of the opposition APC and Accord in and across Oyo state.

According to him, anyone destroying billboards or tearing posters, such a person should be handed over to law enforcement agencies in the state.

Oyo govt’s action to tackle insecurity 

On its part too, Oyo state government as a way of further tackling the spate of insecurity especially kidnapping on the Oyo state end of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway announced plans to engage traditional leaders and local vigilantes in putting an end to incessant kidnappings along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

According to the Oyo state government, the vigilantes and other non-state actors will be working with regular security agencies in order to arrest perpetrators of heinous crimes along the expressway.”

According to the Special Adviser on Security Matters to Governor Seyi Makinde, CP Fatai Owoseni (rtd)  while briefing newsmen on the outcome of a stakeholders’ security meeting held at the Oyo state Security Trust Fund Office, Onireke, Ibadan, the development was as a result of the collaborations of the Oyo and Ogun state governments towards  strengthening the security architecture on the Ibadan-Lagos expressway. 

He further noted that “sadly, we have had three incidents in one week cutting across, that made it to look as if the security agents are sleeping on their obligations but I must correct that impression. 

“Before then, it was not as if measures and strategies were not put in place to curb any incident. The perception and the interpretation that have been given is that your community is insecure but it is not possible to have a totally crime-free society.” 

“Concerning the incidents, we recorded about two weeks ago, a whole lot has been put in place by the government to ensure that we give safety to commuters, not just on the express roads but the road that leads to Lagos and Abeokuta and some other parts of Oyo state.

“And that also was the reason why the governors of Ogun and Oyo states met to form Joint Security Committee. So, in essence, with what has happened, the interpretation of security will be that there must have been a gap. 

“The criminal elements who are on the other side believe it is their profession and would probably must have noticed a gap that they can capitalise on, which would translate to what I can call ‘opportunistic crime. 

“Having said that, we have looked back to see where we got it wrong and looked at the lesson. And that also explains why, for the past one week, jointly with Ogun State security team, we have formed a Technical Working Group”. 

“We have been sitting together to see what we can do to remain proactive. For now, we have strengthened visibility and also found out some certain things. We have taken a lesson from that to say that whatever that is put in place now will be something that is workable, practical, sustainable and that is where we are now. 

“Is it that with the non-state actors that we are using, we have not been able to tidy up the framework with which we work for them? We have looked at that as well to improve the collaboration with the locals that know the nooks and crannies of the community. 

“We have also looked at how we can optimise the use of the traditional institutions, the baales in our areas including those that do business in the communities. How much of relationship do they have with the traditional rulers in the said areas. Are they doing the necessary Corporate Social Responsibilities CSR? All these things matter.”

What analysts are saying 

With all these and other security measures in place both by the security agencies and the Oyo state government, in particular, analysts were of the opinion what is most important for the state and its people is to completely reduce, and if time permits, to wipe out the seeming fears of the people of the state concerning insecurity.

Of most concern is political thuggery which some parts of the state are noted for courtesy the transport associations whether outlawed by the state government or not to avoid the ugly incident of massive polite violence in the state. 

Observers have said the time is still much on the side of Oyo state government and the security agencies in the state to douse the fears ahead the commencement of the 2023 general elections in and across Oyo state particularly, Ibadan, the state capital.