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Kidnapping: Lagos Farmers Abandon N20bn Investments

Akinwunmi-Ambode

Efforts being made to take the country back to agriculture as a driver of the country’s economic resurgence has suffered setback in Lagos, South-West Nigeria, due to activities of kidnappers.

LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered that the dare devil kidnappers are on rampage in the state and their major targets are the farmers who they abduct from the farms for ransom.

Most of the farmers who had relocated to Nigeria to invest massively in mechanised modern farming told LEADERSHIP Weekend in Lagos that they have abandoned their farms worth over N20 billion put together as a result of security challenges.

They lamented that frequent payments of ransom to the  kidnappers to rescue people abducted while working in their farms had also made the idea of using agriculture as a major anchor to diversify the nation’s economy a futile exercise.

Expanse of arable land in Epe areas, especially around Egansoyindo through Ketu and Igbodu in Lagos is good for agriculture and has attracted many farmers into the zone. More so, because of its relative good road networks, they went into farming like poultry farm, pig farm, watermelon farming, among others in the community.

Unfortunately, poultry in the farms are now lying desolate, with hundreds of fowls cackling in hunger, as a lot of people are afraid to go to the farms to work for fear of being kidnapped.

It was learnt that workers, who were living on farm houses built in farm settlements have relocated from the farms in spite of the security provided for them by the farm owners to avert being the next victim of kidnap.

Residents in the community told our correspondent that the trend is worrisome because, while the criminals are amassing money paid to them through ransom, huge investments made by the farmers are going down the drain.

Nelson Akingboye, a farm owner in Epe, Lagos said, “Honestly, I am regretting relocating from the United States to invest in Agriculture in Lagos. Having invested my life savings in farming what I am getting here in return is nothing but shit. Some criminals who call themselves kidnappers keep coming to my farm to kidnap my workers. My tractors, farming equipment worth billions of Naira are wasting away.

“The first time, I paid N700, 000 ransom to get my workers back. Two weeks later they came to pick three, I paid N300, 000 with pleading to release them. I am fed up with this. No security in this place at all; I can’t cope, I can’t take it anymore.”

Akingboye added that no fewer than 15 gunmen dressed in military uniform, numbering over 40 recently invaded a farm at Epe, Igbodu-Isiwo Road and whisked away four poultry farmers.

“Nobody’s safety is guaranteed anymore here. Igbodu farming community in Epe, Lagos State, is  now a den of kidnappers who have abducted about 25 farmers in the last five months”, he said.

The Chairman of Farmville, an organic agro-allied firm, Mr. Akin Braithwaite, who had experienced the same ordeal said  four farm workers of Farmville were once whisked away into Igbodu forest by militants.

Braithwaite, an ambitious entrepreneur who had gone into farming to ensure food security and create jobs said, “We heard nothing from them until the following day. And our worst fear was confirmed when someone contacted us through a telephone that our workers were abducted by kidnappers. They demanded a ransom. Following that initial call, there were series of telephone calls until the farm workers were finally released on Sunday.

“As to the payment of ransom, the kidnappers gave clear warning and instructions about where the money should be dropped. Later, we got to know what happened to the victims, while in captivity when they were released.”

Maintaining that Igbodu requires special security attention, he pointed out that the place had become a beehive of activities in the last three years because medium and large-scale farming ventures were operating in the community.

Obviously not willing to leave things to chance, he said though weapons were not part of farm machinery the farmers needed to have, they have been constrained to look at all options like hiring  hunters, vigilantes, among others to protect their investments.

Lamenting about the menace, the Alashe of Igbodu, Chief Olaitan Oshodiro, noted that militants, who were dislodged from Arepo, Isawo and some parts of Ogun State have relocated to Epe area to be wreaking havoc.

Oshodiro said, “We cannot sleep anymore. We are dying of hunger! We cannot go to farm in order not to be kidnapped. We go to bed by 6:30pm these days.”

On the way out of the woods, the chairman of the House Committee on Public Account in the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon Moshood Oshun said the need to stop the menace informed the inclusion of a death penalty in the recently passed bill against kidnapping by the Assembly.

He said the bill was passed into law by the lawmakers of the House after it scaled the third reading of the House, adding that it is currently awaiting the assent of the governor of the state, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode.

According to him, the bill, as passed into law, stipulates that a kidnapper would face the death penalty if it is discovered that a victim ended up dying in his custody adding that it also stipulates a life imprisonment for those found guilty of kidnapping.

Oshun said though death penalty is being frowned against in some quarters, “We need to understand the physical and psychological torture faced by a person who is abducted. In fact, it would take a special grace for a victim to ever recover from the incident.

“Compared to the same law in some other states, it is outright death for a kidnapper found guilty irrespective of whether the victim died in his custody or not.

“But here in Lagos, we respect the sanctity of the human person and this is why we did not follow the general pattern of death penalty. In our case, the kidnapper will only be sentenced to death if the victim died in his or her custody. This is just a simple tit-for-tat.

“Again, most laws are not just about punishment, but deterrent. A Nigerian resident in Lagos thinking of engaging in this kind of crime would definitely withdraw upon knowing that he has no escape route with this kind of law,” Oshun said.

The lawmakers said they have become very concerned about cases of kidnapping in some parts of the state like Ikorodu and Epe, arguing that if left unattended to, it would encourage those who are into the criminal act to continue to cause fear among the citizens and ultimately affect the security and economic situations of the state.

Efforts being made to take the country back to agriculture as a driver of the country’s economic resurgence has suffered setback in Lagos, South-West Nigeria, due to activities of kidnappers.

LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered that the dare devil kidnappers are on rampage in the state and their major targets are the farmers who they abduct from the farms for ransom.

Most of the farmers who had relocated to Nigeria to invest massively in mechanised modern farming told LEADERSHIP Weekend in Lagos that they have abandoned their farms worth over N20 billion put together as a result of security challenges.

They lamented that frequent payments of ransom to the  kidnappers to rescue people abducted while working in their farms had also made the idea of using agriculture as a major anchor to diversify the nation’s economy a futile exercise.

Expanse of arable land in Epe areas, especially around Egansoyindo through Ketu and Igbodu in Lagos is good for agriculture and has attracted many farmers into the zone. More so, because of its relative good road networks, they went into farming like poultry farm, pig farm, watermelon farming, among others in the community.

Unfortunately, poultry in the farms are now lying desolate, with hundreds of fowls cackling in hunger, as a lot of people are afraid to go to the farms to work for fear of being kidnapped.

It was learnt that workers, who were living on farm houses built in farm settlements have relocated from the farms in spite of the security provided for them by the farm owners to avert being the next victim of kidnap.

Residents in the community told our correspondent that the trend is worrisome because, while the criminals are amassing money paid to them through ransom, huge investments made by the farmers are going down the drain.

Nelson Akingboye, a farm owner in Epe, Lagos said, “Honestly, I am regretting relocating from the United States to invest in Agriculture in Lagos. Having invested my life savings in farming what I am getting here in return is nothing but shit. Some criminals who call themselves kidnappers keep coming to my farm to kidnap my workers. My tractors, farming equipment worth billions of Naira are wasting away.

“The first time, I paid N700, 000 ransom to get my workers back. Two weeks later they came to pick three, I paid N300, 000 with pleading to release them. I am fed up with this. No security in this place at all; I can’t cope, I can’t take it anymore.”

Akingboye added that no fewer than 15 gunmen dressed in military uniform, numbering over 40 recently invaded a farm at Epe, Igbodu-Isiwo Road and whisked away four poultry farmers.

“Nobody’s safety is guaranteed anymore here. Igbodu farming community in Epe, Lagos State, is  now a den of kidnappers who have abducted about 25 farmers in the last five months”, he said.

The Chairman of Farmville, an organic agro-allied firm, Mr. Akin Braithwaite, who had experienced the same ordeal said  four farm workers of Farmville were once whisked away into Igbodu forest by militants.

Braithwaite, an ambitious entrepreneur who had gone into farming to ensure food security and create jobs said, “We heard nothing from them until the following day. And our worst fear was confirmed when someone contacted us through a telephone that our workers were abducted by kidnappers. They demanded a ransom. Following that initial call, there were series of telephone calls until the farm workers were finally released on Sunday.

“As to the payment of ransom, the kidnappers gave clear warning and instructions about where the money should be dropped. Later, we got to know what happened to the victims, while in captivity when they were released.”

Maintaining that Igbodu requires special security attention, he pointed out that the place had become a beehive of activities in the last three years because medium and large-scale farming ventures were operating in the community.

Obviously not willing to leave things to chance, he said though weapons were not part of farm machinery the farmers needed to have, they have been constrained to look at all options like hiring  hunters, vigilantes, among others to protect their investments.

Lamenting about the menace, the Alashe of Igbodu, Chief Olaitan Oshodiro, noted that militants, who were dislodged from Arepo, Isawo and some parts of Ogun State have relocated to Epe area to be wreaking havoc.

Oshodiro said, “We cannot sleep anymore. We are dying of hunger! We cannot go to farm in order not to be kidnapped. We go to bed by 6:30pm these days.”

On the way out of the woods, the chairman of the House Committee on Public Account in the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon Moshood Oshun said the need to stop the menace informed the inclusion of a death penalty in the recently passed bill against kidnapping by the Assembly.

He said the bill was passed into law by the lawmakers of the House after it scaled the third reading of the House, adding that it is currently awaiting the assent of the governor of the state, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode.

According to him, the bill, as passed into law, stipulates that a kidnapper would face the death penalty if it is discovered that a victim ended up dying in his custody adding that it also stipulates a life imprisonment for those found guilty of kidnapping.

Oshun said though death penalty is being frowned against in some quarters, “We need to understand the physical and psychological torture faced by a person who is abducted. In fact, it would take a special grace for a victim to ever recover from the incident.

“Compared to the same law in some other states, it is outright death for a kidnapper found guilty irrespective of whether the victim died in his custody or not.

“But here in Lagos, we respect the sanctity of the human person and this is why we did not follow the general pattern of death penalty. In our case, the kidnapper will only be sentenced to death if the victim died in his or her custody. This is just a simple tit-for-tat.

“Again, most laws are not just about punishment, but deterrent. A Nigerian resident in Lagos thinking of engaging in this kind of crime would definitely withdraw upon knowing that he has no escape route with this kind of law,” Oshun said.

The lawmakers said they have become very concerned about cases of kidnapping in some parts of the state like Ikorodu and Epe, arguing that if left unattended to, it would encourage those who are into the criminal act to continue to cause fear among the citizens and ultimately affect the security and economic situations of the state.

 

This post was syndicated from Nigerian News from Leadership News. Click here to read the full text on the original website.

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