How Gov Bello stems criminal activities in kogi
For the past seven and half years, Governor Yahaya Bello confronted armies of criminals and criminalities terrorizing kogi state with heavy dose of fire, action and commitment, resulting in many of them either arrested, prosecuted and in prisons or dead for their crimes.
By Labran Tijani, Lokoja.
No doubt, by 27th January 2024, the present administration led by Alhaji Yahaya Bello in kogi state will expire by constitutional injunctions.
With mixed feelings, some people received his administration which kicked off on 27th January 2016 with new narratives, rooted in paradigm shift to address the welfare of the citizens of the state.
While some folks classified him as one leader that have emerged in the horizon of Kogi state since its creation, with landmarks achievements that stand the test of times, others see governor Bello as an Apostle of paradigm shift that have brought succour and sense of belonging to the people of the state.
Yet others felt , his projections for the almost seven years above need time to mature to create the desired impacts on the people of the state.
A fire brand labour leader and immediate past chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in the state, Comrade Onuh Edoka remains one of those leaders who believe that governor Yahaya Bello has done a lot for the people of the state that should be applauded.
In a seemingly open confession recently, Comrade Edoka said that it was when he left office as the state chairman of NLC that the achievements and directions of governor Bello in the state became clear to him .
“Governor Yahaya Bello has done alot to deserve our praise. It was when I left office that I saw his giants strides and the quality of his achievements. He deserve our commendation”, he said.
Comrade Edoka droped this hints recently during the unveiling ceremony of the deputy governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for November 11 gubernatorial election, Comrade Salifu Oyibo, (the former state Chairman of Nigerian Union of Teachers) in his goodwill message at government House.
The fact therefore remains, for a labour leader who stood on ALUTA force and bargains to ensure a better package for workers on the state for years to “confess” in a such a public gatherings, it shows that the administration of Yahaya Bello stands on the podium of honour when history beckons.
It behold therefore, that there are millions of Edokas in the society of kogi today who had changed their perception or position in their minds due to the reality on ground as illuminated by the achievements of governor Yahaya Bello across the state and on different sectors, but do not have the opportunity to speak out openly .
According to survey cross the state, governor Bello has not rested on his oars to ensure an adequate security of the people of the state and others who traverse through the state to various parts of the country, since he took over leadership mantle in the state.
It’s the believe of many, greatly, that the state become vulnerable to the attack of hoodlums because of its position as the gateway to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) , Abuja.
Also, it’s a known fact that over ten states in the country , particularly from South-south, south east and part of Midwest use Kogi as a transit route to the northern part of the country, including FCT, Abuja , thus making it more susceptible to all forms of the attack of criminals.
According Abubakar Abdullahi, a resident of kabawa-Lokoja, it was an open secret in kogi that before governor Yahaya Bello took over power in 2016, the state was under the siege of armed robbers, bandits and kidnappers.
“The hoodlums laid ambush everywhere in the state, terrorising residents at homes and on the roads, with impunity.
“Commuters/ motorists on major highways that pass through the state were at their mercy . Fears and anguish gripped the citizens. It was all that bad”, said Abdullahi in Lokoja recently .
Governor Yahaya Bello was confronted with the stark reality at the inception of his administration that without adequate and enduring security networks in place to ward off these hoodlums who have held the state by its jugular, no socio-economic activities can thrive in the state.
Faced with the reality, the government took the bull by its horns at the beginning of his administration to restore confidence to the citizens that the new government under his watch is equal to the task of ensuring their safety and others .
In line with this, governor Bello invested huge amount of money and provided the security operatives with the necessary operational vehicles and security gadgets to sharpen their capacity , efficiency and effectiveness to combat crimes and criminalities in the state.
Among others, the state police command, Army , Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Immigration, Correction Service Centres(Nigeria Prison Service), Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), including various vigilante groups operating in the state took delivery of some of the vehicles and gadgets to improve their service delivery.
The synergy that resulted led to the deployment of soldiers to some flash points , notorious for these criminal activities, particularly, Lokoja-Okene highway.
Equally, Special task force, including Navy operatives was deployed to cover Lokoja-Ajaokuta-itobe-Anyigba highway that became nightmares for travellers because of these hoodlums who have virtually annexed the flank with their nefarious activities.
In addition, state Vigilante service was created ,with personnel trained and equipped to work hands with conventional police for effective surveillance and intelligent gatherings.
They vigilantes were stimulated by the incentives to increase their surveillance in many areas that was classified as a no -go areas and link up with the security operatives for action.
It was gathered that no sooner this security framework was established that the hoodlums started receiving intensive heat , as many of them were either caught or killed in the process. Many too were reported to have relocated their trade from the state.
For instance, according to a community leader , Yaro Ochimana from Anyigba axis in Dekina local government, the administration of Yahaya Bello’s clampdown on criminals led to the arrest and prosecution of many notorious kidnappers and dare devil armed robbers, as many of their cells in many strategic places in the state were neutralized in the process.
“Some of the kidnapping kingpins were caught in some part of the state, and made to face the law . At the peak of the security clampdown, their houses and other properties were razed down in Odu and Okene in Dekina and Okene LG respectively.
“We now sieve a sigh of relief from notorious boys who constituted themselves to nuisance in the society of Anyigba, Okene and kabba axis of the state . At least,if anything the number of these hoodlums was reduced drastically by the security clampdown exercise that resulted”, Ochimana said.
The war against criminals and criminalities by governor Bello administration did not go unnoticed by the appropriate authorities. The governor was reported to have received garlands for his action.
The presidency , Army and police authorities recognized his efforts and bestowed him with various award for his efforts in stemming the tide of criminal activities in his state.
Governor Bello led administration did not hide its disdain for any form of communal strife in the society of kogi.
According to the security adviser to the governor, Commander Jerry Omadara, (rtd), the security of the citizens and other people living in the state is a top priority of the present administration.
He said governor Bello will not tolerate any form of security breaches that will make inhabitants of any community to be at dagger drawn with each others .
While Omadara stressed that security matters are not discussed in open space, he said any one that crosses the security redline of the present administration will not go scot-free.
He reiterated the commitment of the present administration commitment to ensure a peaceful co-existence within and between communities in the state.
In the light of the avowed stand of the government, governor Bello took decisive action on Egbira Mozum and Bassa-komo leaders for fueling the crisis in their domains ,after persistence warning to the warring groups to sheath their swords.
While the governor’s bold and unbiased move has brought respite to the embattled communities that were fighting over fish pods and involved in land speculation for years, the same posture has de-escalated the emerging land dispute between shintaku and Gbobe communities in the same Bassa LG of the state.
The incessant raiding of boundary town of Akpanya in Igala/Mela Odolu LG by MASSOP was equally curtailed when the government released its “heavy hands” against the alleged invaders from Enugu state, leaving the invaders with heavy casualty in their last outing.
“We are ever at alert , at Akpanya. The last time these hoodlums from Enugu came here, they met fire power and many of them went home in bags”, said Sylvester Adaji from Akpanya community in kogi.
For a lasting peace in that border settlement, operatives of Navy were drafted to the area to synergise with community vigilantes to ward off future attack from the ethnic militia perceived to be from Enugu state.
It was noted that the lingering communal clashes between Ihiakpe and Otutubatu clan at Bagana is reported to be currently receiving attention as the government vowed to ensure a lasting peace with necessary measures in the offing .
For effective monitoring of banditry activities at the grass root areas , local government chairman in all 21 councils, traditional rulers, youth leader’s and community leaders including elders of various communities were charged to be conscious of any unusual movement in their domain, and report appropriately for action.
However, governor Yahaya Bello has enjoined kogites at different fora to always avail the security agents a timely information about the criminals and their hide -outs for necessary action and effective results of measures on ground.
The governor has not ceased to remind the people of the state to note that security of lives and property is a collective responsibility of all, not one man’s business.
“The government and security agents need valuable and timely information to act fast and nip in the bud , the move of the criminals living among us.That is where and when you can feel the result of security measures on ground fully “, said governor Bello recently.
As Bello’s administration is gradually bowing to constitutional pressure on tenure, many of the die- hard critics of his administration gave him thumb up on his security approach.
“if not the governor’s proactive and decisive measures, the situation of the state will have been like that of neighbouring Niger and Benue, and perhaps Nassarawa states in the central Nigeria.
“The pocket of attacks we experienced in the state sometimes is a child play , comparing with what’s happening in these three states currently. Let us not play politics with security. This man deserve our praise on security”, said a citizen of kogi who craved for anonymity for personal reasons.