Community leaders and farmers in Epe area of Lagos have disclosed that seven persons out of 33 abducted from their community by kidnappers at different times, were still missing.
Igbodu/ Isiwo community in Epe had been severally attacked by gunmen with several farm workers reportedly abducted and millions of naira paid as ransom for their release. As a result, farmers in the area are said to be abandoning their farmlands as fear of kidnapping spreads. Dolapo Badmus, spokesperson of the Lagos State police command, last week, confirmed the latest abduction of two persons in the community on February 14, 2017.
The farmers have therefore cried out to the Military Joint Taskforce (JTF) to extend its mandate to their community. They also want the Lagos State government to seek the support of the Defence Headquarters in addressing the security challenge.
The farmers on Monday staged a protest to the Governor’s Office, in Ikeja, displaying placards with inscriptions such as “save us from kidnappers’’, “save farmers, save the nation’’, flush out the creeks’’, “food security is threatened’’ and “save our investments’’.
Ayokunle Ore, spokesperson of the group, said their farms had been under sustained attacks by kidnappers since September 2016. Ore disclosed that 33 persons had been kidnapped from different farms, with 26 released after payment of ransom while seven persons were still missing. Ayokunle Ore, spokesperson of the group, said their farms had been under sustained attacks by kidnappers since September 2016.
He said that their petitions to the state government and engagement with security agencies such as the police, the military, the Odua Peoples’ Congress (OPC) and local vigilance groups, had not yielded positive result.
According to him, the incessant kidnapping in the area needs to be handled as their investments have been negatively affected and their lives at risk.
“With the desire to contribute our quota to national food security and sufficiency, we have invested our lifetime savings and borrowings from banks to establish farms in the agricultural belt created by the state government. Some of us even relocated from abroad to come and invest in farming to respond to government’s call for diversification of the economy.
“We estimate over N20 billion investments by small, medium and large scale farmers in the area and now it is at grave risk. We urge Govenor Akinwunmi Ambode to intervene urgently and come to our rescue by seeking the support of JTF in the area to destroy the camps of these kidnappers.
“They should extend the mandate of the JTF (Operation Awatse), currently in Ikorodu and Festac, to also cover the Igbodu/Isiwo axis and adjourning creeks,” Ore said.
Idiat Adebule, Lagos State deputy governor, who addressed the protesting farmers, condemned the incessant attacks in the area, and assured that the government will do more.
“Security issues are sensitive issues, and the government is not resting on its oars. We are doing all we can to restore peace in the area,” said Adebule.