There is tension in the Ibarapa area of Oyo State over rising cases of kidnapping and robbery cases.
A resident, who spoke with SaharaReporters, said about 15 people had been kidnapped in the last two months while over N100m paid as ransom money to secure their releases.
He said the situation had got to a state where farmers could no longer go to their farms, thereby causing a food crisis in the region.
In March, a popular businessman in the area, Olusegun Olosunde, and another person identified as Amubieya were both kidnapped in Igangan.
Recently, five persons were kidnapped in Idayan, a village in Ibarapa amidst a retinue of toll collecting police checkpoints.
They were fortunate to be released days later after a huge amount was paid as ransom.
Another person, Wasiu Agbegende, a cattle trader, and Saidu Odugbemi, a popular farmer, were kidnapped in Igangan last Saturday.
SaharaReporters gathered that popular herbal manufacturer, Fatai Yusuf, known as Oko Oloyun, was shot dead by some gunmen on Eruwa-Igbo-Ora Road in Ibarapa earlier in January.
Residents of the area in a letter to the Oyo State governor, Seyi Makinde, on Sunday, said agricultural produce was now on lower rate as farmers no longer feel secure going to farms.
The letter signed by Prince Tayo Akinyemi said victims of these kidnappings revealed how the hoodlums usually boasted of their level of influence with people in power.
It reads, “On April 28, 2019, petroleum marketers in Ibarapa axis of Oyo State, under the aegis of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, sent a ‘save our soul’ message to the Department of State Services over the persistent kidnapping of their members, particularly in Igboora. Two months after, (25 June 2019), a popular food vendor in Igboora, named Madam Folake Hosana, was kidnapped by some bandits and later released after payment of N2m ransom the third day. A week after, a teacher was also kidnapped at Iberekodo, Igboora on his way from his farm.
“Three months later, 20th September 2019, the ASUP Chairman of Oyo State College of Agriculture and Technology, Igboora, Jide Opadijo, his secretary and three other members, were equally kidnapped and later released after payment of N4m ransom.
“Similarly, on 3rd November 2019, around 4:00 am, an indigene of Igboora and then head of the vigilante group, Tajudeen Ayanwale, was killed in a mission to rescue a Fulani businessman named Bakare Adamu; one kidnapper was equally killed.
“In all these kidnappings, the victims were held captive around the Kara Market/Sekere Village/ Abeokuta Expressway axis.
“As a result of various embarrassments these persistent kidnappings are causing to Ibarapaland, the entire Igboora community launched a local security outfit with each household contributing financially for its sustenance.
“Night parties were cancelled and curfew imposed from 10 pm till 5am. With this local intelligence, peace has been temporarily restored until the night of Monday, 14th April 2020 when the news emerged that wife of an Ibarapa monarch, Olori Funbi Ojo, and daughter were kidnapped on their way home around 8pm at gunpoint. Efforts of various security personnel proved abortive before they were later released on the night of Wednesday, 16th April 2020 after payment of N2.5m ransom.
“At the point of writing this piece, another farmer, Mr Odugbemi, has been kidnapped at Tapa since Saturday, 8th May. It was reported that his younger brother narrowly escaped. We plead with the government to rescue us.
“At present, the staff and students of Oyo State College of Agriculture and Technology, Igboora, are in panic; this insecurity has to a larger extent affected their enrolment.
“The same thing applies to the Police Secondary School, Igboora. Agricultural produce in Ibarapa is now on a lower rate as farmers no longer feel secure going to farm. Industrialists are not encouraged about the frequent news of insecurity in Ibarapa; how long would this take?”