In a tragic incident on January 29, 2023, gunmen suspected to be kidnappers ambushed and killed two traditional rulers in Ekiti State, Nigeria. The victims were identified as the Onimojo of Imojo in the Oye Local Government Area, Oba Olatunde Olusola, and the Elesun of Esun Ekiti in the Ikole Local Government Area, Oba Babatunde Ogunsakin. The Alara of Ara Ekiti, Oba Adebayo Fatoba, narrowly escaped the attack. The monarchs were returning from a function in Kogi State when their vehicles encountered the assailants. According to sources, the gunmen laid an ambush on the Ipao-Oke Ako Road, firing at the traditional rulers’ vehicle. While the Alara managed to escape, Oba Olatunde Olusola and Oba Babatunde Ogunsakin succumbed to gunshot wounds and died instantly.
Chairman of the Ajoni Local Council Development Area, Michael Ogungbemi, confirmed the tragic incident and stated that the bodies of the deceased rulers had been recovered and taken to a mortuary. Eyewitnesses reported that the bandits pursued the Alara in an attempt to kidnap him, while simultaneously shooting at the other two monarchs as they tried to flee the scene. The local security outfit’s checkpoint had already been passed when the gunmen carried out the attack. The surviving Alara promptly informed local security authorities about the incident. The perpetrators were said to be heavily armed with sophisticated weapons. The Chairman of the Ajoni Local Council Development Area, Michael Ogungbemi, called the attackers “bandits” and emphasized the need for a robust response. He revealed that the Divisional Police Officer, the Rapid Response Squad, and the Amotekun Corps had been mobilized to address the situation.
Traditional leaders murders spurs urgency for localized security.
Oba Olatunde David Olusola, the Onikun of Ikun Ekiti and Secretary of Majority Obas of Ekiti Land, expressed his sorrow over the incident. He highlighted the urgency for the government to collaborate with traditional rulers to enhance community security, stressing that security measures needed to be localized. The Police Public Relations Officer of the Ekiti State Police, Sunday Abutu, described the incident as a suspected case of murder. Abutu assured that necessary action was being taken, with tactical and intelligence teams deployed to the area. As the nation grapples with the shocking attack on traditional rulers, the Civil Society Joint Action Group held a press conference in Abuja on Monday. According to the group, 17,469 Nigerians have been abducted under the administrations of President Muhammadu Buhari and Bola Tinubu from 2019 to date.
The Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative and Advocacy Centre, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, revealed that 2,423 persons have been killed, and 1,872 others abducted during the Tinubu administration. Rafsanjani emphasized that insecurity has persisted across three administrations, with a total of 24,816 Nigerians killed and 15,597 abducted during President Buhari’s last administration between 2019 and 2023. Notably, 90% of the 17,469 kidnapping cases recorded from 2019 to date occurred under Buhari’s administration, while 10% happened under Tinubu’s. Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji, condemned the attack and ordered security agencies to apprehend the perpetrators. In a statement, he expressed condolences to the affected communities and urged residents to remain calm while promising that justice would be served.
Security lapses spark calls for urgent collaboration and action.
Gani Adams, the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba, expressed his dismay over the prevailing insecurity in the country. Adams criticized the South-West governors for not collaborating effectively with local security outfits to combat insecurity in the region. He stressed the need for a united effort between government and local organizations to address the rising threat. The Osun State Commander of the Amotekun Corps, Bashir Adewinmbi, called on South-West governors to strengthen the Amotekun Corps to counter kidnappers effectively. Adewinmbi also advocated for harsher penalties for apprehended kidnappers, asserting that a lack of stringent punishment emboldens criminals.
Also, the Transparency International Nigeria’s Head, urged the government to declare a state of emergency on insecurity. He emphasized the urgency of the situation and warned that criminals become more audacious when they perceive impunity. The pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, expressed anger over the attack and called on the President to take decisive action against insecurity. The group’s Organising Secretary, Chief Kole Omololu, criticized the security agencies for not doing enough to protect citizens and reiterated the need for a well-equipped South-West Nigeria Security Network Agency (Amotekun).
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Netizens have also taken to social media to express their outrage over the killing of the two Obas in Ekiti. Facebook and X users lamented the worsening security situation in the country and called for swift action to address the menace. The incident in Ekiti highlights the escalating security challenges in Nigeria, particularly the alarming increase in kidnapping cases. It underscores the urgent need for a comprehensive and collaborative approach involving the government, traditional rulers, and local security outfits to ensure the safety and well-being of all citizens.