Kogi official calls for tougher measures against highway bandits
By Cyril Mbah, Abuja
The Abuja-Lokoja Expressway, like the Abuja-Kaduna road axis, has gradually joined the long list of federal highways in the country where road users experience different types of nightmares, including molestation after being kidnapped and robbed, both in the day time and at night.
In 2020, the notorious posture of armed groups on the road came to limelight when about 35 passengers in a luxurious bus travelling at night were waylaid by bandits and matched several kilometres into the forest, and stripped of their belongings; while their phones were used to contact relatives for ransom.
It turned out that different groups of armed youths were operating at various sections of the highway, and travellers run the risk of being attacked by other groups after being released by one set of armed men.
Kogi state Commissioner for Solid Minerals and Natural Resources, Alhaji Abubakar Bashir Gurkwu, said the robbery and kidnapping incidents have now reduced through the dogged effort of Kogi state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, in close collaboration with security agencies.
Alhaji Abubakar Bashir, who spoke in an exclusive interview in Abuja, suggested that the federal government should adopt Kogi method of dealing with bandits, especially those who operate on the highways, to improve security in the country.
The commissioner remarked that the rampant kidnapping of passengers along the Lokoja-Abuja highway reduced because the administration adopted village driven security system to monitor the activities of bandits and keep them in check.
He stated that the appreciable reduction of insecurity recently earned the state governor an international award, where he was crowned the “Best Security Conscious Governor in 2020.”
Alhaji Abubakar Bashir urged the federal government to involve village heads and other leaders in the rural areas in security watch, apart from training and deploying vigilante members and equipping them to work with security agencies and ensure the safety of lives and properties.