Since the Army withdrew from the security formation in Ondo State, the level of Insecurity has taken a new dimension.
With the latest invasion of Molege village in Ose Local Government of Ondo State by herdsmen, the insecurity in the State has now moved from cult clashes, piracy, armed robbery, kidnapping to banditry.
Yesterday, three persons were killed in Molege Village following an attack on the community by herdsmen.
The community, Molege village was reportedly attacked by armed herders over the refusal of villagers to allow herdsmen graze on farmlands with their cows.
The herders reportedly mobilised and set the village and the farms on fire leaving villagers fleeing their homes and scampering for safety.
The strained relationship between the state government and the army became public two months ago when the army in Ondo State withdrew their personnel from various strategic places and checkpoints mounted at interstate borders in the state.
The State Government through the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr Donald Ojogo, indirectly attributed the strained relationship between the army and the government to the governor’s resolve to sustain AMOTEKUN, the security Initiative inaugurated on Jan. 9, 2020, by the Governors of the South-West to address the challenges of insecurity in the region.
The Commissioner tactically accused the Army Command in the State of trying to frustrate the operation of Amotekun.
Although the Military Command refused to speak officially on the matter, probably refraining from engaging the government in the media; but a Military Official who spoke to Starnews Nigeria off the record accused the state government of owing the affected soldiers allowances running to several months.
They claimed that the Akeredolu government is being economical about the truth.
The source claimed that soldiers were withdrawn from checkpoints because Governor Akeredolu did not pay their allowances after several appeals by the military high command in the state.
The officer said: “All the military barricades/checkpoints in Ekiti State and Osun State respectively are intact. And these two states are also under the control of the Ondo state Army Command. If soldiers at the checkpoints in the two states were not withdrawn from the roads to frustrate the operation of Amotekun, you should know that we withdrew our men in Ondo State because the government of Akeredolu is owing to our soldiers.
“Any information they dished out to the public aside from this, is fake. They are lying against the army because they know we won’t engage them in the media. We hope they won’t force us to speak out soon if they didn’t stop blackmailing us”, he added.
But from the government circle, the story is different. Some officials suggested that the withdrawal was occasioned by a cold war between the military and the operatives of Amotekun. They accused the Army high command in Ondo State of using the military to protect his kinsmen (herders from the north) from the arrest of Amotekun operatives in enforcing the anti-open grazing law in the state.
But the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, however, stated to collaborate the allegation levelled against the government by the Army. The PDP joined the Army to accuse the government of refusing to pay allowances of soldiers manning the various checkpoints in the state.
The PDP said Governor Akeredolu has a penchant for owing workers in the state, hence the withdrawal of soldiers from Ondo State checkpoints.
However, the undisclosed disagreements between the government and the Army continue to linger at the detriment of the safety and security of the good people of Ondo State.
Just three days ago, before the invasion of Molege village in Ose Local Government of Ondo State by herdsmen, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu stated through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Richard Olatunde, accusing the Army of inducing steps toward jailbreaks in the state.
The Governor condemned in strong terms the withdrawal of men of the Nigerian Army from the Correctional Centers across the State, lamenting that it would induce jailbreaks.
This allegation might not be unconnected with the rift between the governor and the Army high command in the state. This is because the withdrawal of men of the Nigerian Army from Correctional Centers across the State was true. But the said withdrawal has also been justified by a source in the Army who pleaded anonymity with our correspondent upon investigation.
The source claimed that men of the Army were deployed in 2021 to all the Correctional Centers across Ondo State to support sister armed personnel in guarding custodial centres when jailbreak was spreading unchecked in Nigeria. The source said this was done by the Army to support sister armed personnel without any request by the State Government.
“Now that the incessant jailbreak has reduced, Soldiers cannot continue to stay at Correctional Centers when they are needed for other important assignments”, the unnamed source added.
Meanwhile, Starnews Nigeria independent investigation revealed that men of the Nigerian Army were never part of the Security Architecture of Correctional Centers in Nigeria from inception. They were however deployed to strengthen the security around custodial centres across the country when Correctional Centers in Nigeria came under heightened attacks by terrorists a year ago.
Our investigation further revealed that the recent set up of a special security team by the Controller General of Corrections, CGC Haliru Nababa, as a synergy to nip terrorist attacks in the bud, did not also include the Army.
The formation includes the armed personnel comprising the three-arm bearing agencies under the Ministry of Interior such as Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), and the Correctional Services.
This report is not however an approval to the withdrawal of soldiers from Ondo State Correctional Centers by the Army. But to establish that the hastened withdrawal is pointing to one fact, the relationship between the governor and the head of the Army in Ondo is strained.
Starnews Nigeria maintains that the absence of harmony between the Military high command in Ondo State and the state government is worrisome and the least expected at a time the State is gravely threatened by insecurity.
The disharmony between the duo has degenerated to the extent that the Army is no longer being invited to security meetings of the State.
It is our passionate appeal, for the sake of the good people of Ondo State, Governor Akeredolu should please make peace with the Army in the collective interests of Ondo State Citizens. We also call upon the Army in Ondo State to please embrace peace and support the governor in his quest to preside over a peaceful Ondo State.
It is also our opinion that every agency has its functions and powers clearly defined in its establishment law. The Army and the Amotekun Commanders should work in synergy towards achieving the ultimate goal of national security, stability and development of Ondo State.