Police in Ogun State, Southwest Nigeria, have said that two students of Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) in Ago-Iwoye have been abducted by an armed group.
The abducted students have been identified as Adeyemo Precious and Oyefule Abiola of the departments of Forestry and Wildlife Management and Agricultural Economics respectively.
The incident occurred at about 9 p.m. on Sunday, when the armed group stormed the Igbole Aibo quarter in Ayetoro, shooting sporadically, police said Monday evening.
The students were abducted while returning to their hostel located at Olowu area in Ayetoro campus of the institution, Yewa North Local Government Area of the state.
The local government has been in the spotlight lately, following spate of armed conflicts ravaging the area, particularly farmers-herders clashes and reprisal attacks that have left some residents scampering for refuge in neighbouring Benin Republic, according to an investigation by The Cable.
It was not immediately clear if the incident was connected to the alleged onslaught of some ‘criminal’ cattle herders who had been accused of kidnappings and killings in the area.
According to a report by the Channels Television, some residents claimed the abduction was perpetuated by suspected criminal herders.
The abductors had allegedly reached out to the relatives of the victims through their cell phones and demanded a sum of N50 million for the release of the students, according to the report.
But Abimbola Oyeyemi, the police spokesperson in the state, who spoke to HumAngle on the incident, could not confirm the authenticity of the claims, saying that investigation was underway.
Oyeyemi added that the state’s Anti-kidnapping Squad, led by the area commander, in conjunction with local hunters, had been deployed in the area and were on the trail of the abductors.
“No arrest has been made yet because investigation is still ongoing,” he said.
“We are on top of the situation and we will ensure their safety while security in the locality is being beefed up.”
Meanwhile, Niyi Oduwole, the Deputy Registrar, Corporate Affairs Unit of the institution, said the university management was on top of the situation.
”The incident is most unfortunate. The university is beefing up security around all our campuses and hostels,” Oduwole said.
“We sympathise with the parents of the victims and we want to assure them that their wards will be rescued unhurt. We are on top of the situation.”
‘A thriving industry’
Kidnap for ransom has been on the rise in most parts of Nigeria that has been battling Boko Haram/ISWAP insurgency for more than a decade.
While it has become a thriving industry with high school students being major targets in the far Northwest and North-central region, it is on a small-scale in the South, but there are fears it could become a full-blown threat like terrorism.
According to a 2020 report on the economics of abductions by SBM Intelligence, a Nigerian intelligence platform, at least $18 million was paid to kidnappers from June 2011 to March 2020.
The Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, who has often been criticised for failing to contain insecurity, has also blamed state and local governments for the rise in kidnappings in the North.
He once said on Twitter that their policy of “rewarding bandits with money and vehicles” can lead to “disastrous consequences.”
As many expressed concerns about President Buhari’s handling of security situations, governors of Southwest states last year inaugurated the indigenous security outfit, Amotekun Security Network, to address security challenges facing the region.