This is not a laughing matter. I have just lodged in a hotel in Ibadan now. And my wife, Fatima is making fun of me. She says in the 30 years she has known me, I have never been this sober and visibly defeated.
I couldn’t utter a word.
We left Lagos about 2pm for Ile-Ife. My son is passing out of his secondary school tomorrow so we have to share in the joy.
We were approaching Berger when Fatima drew my attention to a whatshap message from my sister abroad. I read it. It was dripping with alarm.
She advised against the trip because of so many accounts that Fulani kidnappers were abducting passengers on the Ibadan – Ife route that were circulating in the social media abroad.
I also received similar messages but my reaction to my sister’s message wAs that she exaggerated the problem. I took her counsel as hysteria imported from the diaspora.
When I approached Ibadan, I had a hunch to double check so I could calculate my risk of proceeding to Ife at quarter to 5pm.
My first call was to a reliable source at the governor ‘s lodge in Oshogbo to advise me. His words startled me.
He confided that His Excellency Governor Oyetola has been battling with the issue by meeting the security chiefs and the kings to work together to rid the state of the kidnapping by the Fulani.
He confessed that how the kidnappers took over the state was still a mystery the governor was determined to unravel.
Next, I called palace sources in Ife. They confirmed that the Fulani kidnap on the Ibadan -Ife route has continued, particularly between 6 to 8am and 5 – 8pm.
A source said five police checkpoints and two patrol units have been deployed by the government and were working.
At that point, I felt the risk was well calculated. Then it occurred to me that an agency was responsible for road safety anyway.
Certainly, it should feel challenged that some Fulanimen were invading it’s jurisdiction criminally.
So I called a top friend of mine to advise. His analysis was intelligent.
The Fulani invaders were not the nomadic herdsmen. They were those who settled in these areas in the last 10 years by buying farmlands to crop from hungry local chiefs.
This explains their familiarity with the terrain. When they invite their brothers to come and work on the farms and those ones arrive and realise that Yoruba youths have fled the farms, they also decline farm work and resort to criminal options.
Another group was recruited to work on the gold sites. Once the site stops providing the raw gold, they move to kidnapping to survive.
According to him, surveillance of the terrain with helicopters can not work because the forest act as obstructive canopy.
Police and by extension, FRSC’s arrest of the Fulani kidnappers is not feasible because the kidnappers engage in random ambush of unsuspecting travelers and in three minutes, return to the bush.
So the conclusion: keep away from Ibadan to Ife road in those unholy hours to be safe.
By this time, it was 5.30pm.Since it would be foolish to allow myself to be kidnapped again, I have decided, much to my discontent and against my Aluta principles, to give up my constitutional right to movement within the specified hours. It means my home in Ife, which would, ordinarily accommodate me, must do without me tonight while I spend unbudgeted funds to stay in a hotel.
So. My wife is right.
Please, don’t laugh. It isnt a laughing matter!
Kehinde Bamigbetan, immediate past Commissioner for Information in Ambode’s administration in Lagis State narrated this. Copied from his Facebook page.