Two states in the South Western part of the nation, Ogun and Oyo worried by the rising cases of crime along their borders have decided to tackle the menace headline by agreeing to set up a Joint Border Security Task Force to address the spate of kidnapping, armed robbery, cultism, farmers-herders clashes, banditry, ritual killings and other criminal activities in both states.
The establishment of the joint border security task force was one of the resolutions contained in a communiqué issued by the Governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun who hosted his Oyo State counterpart, Seyi Makinde, to a maiden joint security meeting, which held in Abeokuta, the capital of the Gateway State last Wednesday.
According to them, the membership of the task force would be drawn from various security agencies in the two states and will be tasked to patrol the border communities to ensure security of lives and property for the residents and commuters.
The governors, who met with security heads from both states, traditional rulers and other stakeholders at the meeting tagged: “Ogun, Oyo Joint Security Meeting”, the bilateral session, also announced the setting up of a “High- Level Joint Security Committee” to tackle criminal activities along the boundary communities and interstate roads between the two states.
The meeting came following growing cases of kidnapping and armed robbery, mostly especially along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and other border communities between Ogun and Oyo states in recent times. Between January 8 and 17, no fewer than three cases of kidnappings were recorded along the expressway raising concern among commuters plying the nation’s busiest highway.
A commercial driver, identified as Oluwatosin Aruwajoye was reportedly killed by gunmen who abducted five passengers at the Onigaari end of the expressway. On Sunday, January 17, hoodlums dressed in military uniforms abducted seven wedding guests at the Isara, Ogun State end of the same highway.
The victims had attended a wedding in Ibadan the previous day (January 16) and were returning to their base in Lagos when they were attacked by the gunmen while they were trying to fix one of the cars that had broken down.
Worried by the development, the Ogun and Oyo state governments said Close Circuit TV (CCTV) cameras would be installed on border highways between the two states to check the activities of criminals.
Prior to the security meeting, the two states had deployed operatives of the Amotekun corps in a joint operation to comb the forests between the states to dislodge criminals hibernat- ing in the forests. The Commander of the Amotekun Corps in Ogun State,
Dave Akinyemi during the operation said, the state was also collaborating with neighbouring Lagos to flush out criminals using the forests along the border areas as their cover. He said the operation was necessitated by the recent kidnapping incidents and attacks by killer herdsmen in some parts of the state.
Akinyemi vowed that no part of the state would to be used as a safe haven by terrorists, killer herdsmen, kidnappers or bandits to unleash mayhem on the people.
But to solidify the collaboration and find a lasting solution to the security challenges confronting the two states, Abiodun and Makinde organised the security meeting and agreed on a seven-point action plan. The two states also agreed to share experiences and intelligence on security matters, this according to them would assist the overall safety and security of lives and property in the two states and the nation at large.
The communiqué reads: “After extensive deliberations, which included a review of the security architecture and initiatives in the two states, the meeting resolved as follows: “To jointly collaborate on emergency/ distress calls, especially on the highways that connect the two states.
“To effectively engage, cooperate and collaborate with all the stakeholders, including but not limited to the Federal Government, state, and non-state actors (traditional institutions, religious groups, community development associations, etc.) who’s input and support are required for improved security in the two States and around the border communities.”
The meeting also agreed to implement the following initiatives in the short term: “Threats assessment and analysis along the border corridors. “Deployment of CCTV on the interstate highways “Setting up of outposts along the border communities for the use of the Joint Border Security Task Force “Harmonisation and mainstreaming of voluntary police and informal security outfits “Timeous and diligent prosecution of criminals to signify the resolve of the governments of both states to clamp down on criminality.
In this way, the Attorneys- General of the two states should ensure synergy between law enforcement agencies and their prosecution departments or directorates during the investigative and prosecution phases of cases.”
Earlier in their separate welcome remarks, Abiodun and Makinde noted that the joint security effort “is urgent and much needed” towards addressing the insecurity challenges bedevilling the states. Abiodun noted that both states have peculiar security challenges and they have been tackling it independently with their own mechanisms.
According to him, the joint security effort would promote sustained economic development in the neighbouring states. The governor noted that, Ogun and Oyo states have about 336km stretch of shared borders.
Abiodun said: “Our longest stretch of border line is with Oyo state, 336 kilometres, covering six local government areas which are: Abeokuta North, Imeko-Afon, Odeda, Remo North, Obafemi-Owode and Ijebu North.
“We will ensure that there is no more hiding place for criminals. “I will continue to make life intolerable for them (criminals) and I will continue to do it.”
The governor noted that the re-launch of the state’s joint security outfit, code-named OP-MESA, had already been yielding positive results, saying criminals have already been feeling the heat from the security outfit.
Abiodun again declared war on kidnappers, armed robbers, bandits, cultists and internet fraudsters, popularly known as “yahoo boys” in the state. On his part, Makinde said the joint security meeting “is the right thing to do and it is absolutely important we do it.”
The Oyo governor said he and Abiodun had shoved aside political party differences in order to pursue a common goal of fighting insecurity in their states. Makinde again called for the establishment of state police, insisting that state policing is vital to addressing insecurity challenges at the grassroots.
Makinde said: “With all these happenings (insecurity) around here, we think it is absolutely necessary for us to have this interaction. “We came here to initiate this collaborative effort between our two states because it is the right thing to do and it is absolutely important that we do it.
“In recent weeks, we have seen a big swing in kidnappings and other criminal activities across the border areas of our two states.
“So, if it is not a very big concern to the leadership of the two states, we won’t be here also with our service commanders because we have quite a bit to do in terms of security. “We have absolute commitment to the security of lives and property within our two states.
“What this collaboration is going to do for us is to enable us to share our experiences and look at those decisions that we will take jointly to improve the security situation in our states.
“I’m a believer of structural reform in our polity, not just the security area even in our economy. We must connect the cities within our states so that the South West will be seen as a corridor for development.
“I believe in state police, I believe policing should be local, but we are not able to get that at this point in time because there are constitutional huddles but we all align in terms of getting the next best thing which is the Amotekun Corps for almost all the states in the South West.”
It is thus hoped that after the meeting of the two governors people living along the borders and in both states will finally be able to move about without fear of falling victims to kidnappers and other forms of banditry.