In reaction to the spate of kidnappings in Owo and Akoko areas of Ondo State, the Owo branch of the Nigerian Bar Association has called on the government to pay the ransom to free kidnap victims.
The lawyers took to the streets in a peaceful protest on Tuesday in Owo, to register their displeasure over the activities of kidnappers in the area, particularly the recent kidnap and killing of a polytechnic lecturer in the town.
The Chairman of the NBA, Owo branch, Tajudeen Olutope-Ahmed, who led the protest march on major streets and other areas of Owo, lamented the lack of safety on the highways in the communities.
A similar protest was staged by lawyers in Ekiti last week, following the kidnap and killing of their members recently by kidnappers. The lawyers also followed up the protest with a week's boycott of the courts to drive home their demands for the culprits to be apprehended by the security agencies.
However, the Owo branch of the NBA was also protesting the kidnap and killing of a lecturer of the Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo, Taiwo Akinyemi. They carried placards of various inscriptions and marched to the palace of the Olowo, the Owo Area Command of the Nigeria Police and the Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo.
The protesting lawyers said the government had failed in its constitutional responsibility of providing security to citizens.
"The kidnappings ad ifinitum in Owo and her environs, which one of our members was once a victim is an indication of total collapse of security in Owo and the triumph of kidnapping and armed gangsters," said Mr Olutope-Ahmed, who spoke on behalf of the association.
"It is on this note that we hereby invite the Government of Ondo State and that of the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on kidnapping on Owo roads and that of the entire federation."
He said the NBA was worried that the police could not give a correct account of the citizens that were kidnapped recently on the Owo-Akure road.
"While eyewitnesses said the victims were five, that is, three FMC Owo staffers and two Rufus Giwa Polytechnic workers; the Ondo State Police was reported to have put the number of the kidnapped victims at two individuals, this is worrisome," Mr Olutope-Ahmed said.
"We, therefore, call on the police authorities to wake up to the present security challenge in Owo.
"This is not the time to slumber. It is not the time to be supine as well. Police must, as a matter of necessity be at alert to the security situation in Owo and her environs.
" To this end, we suggest that the idea of mounting police checking points, which are nothing but avenues to rake bribes from commuters, should be reviewed.
"Constant police patrol of the roads should be embarked upon. In this way police will be able to foil any attempt by the men of underworlds from showcasing their daredevil skills on the roads", he said.
As a way of reducing the hardship that kidnapped victims and their families are subjected to, Mr Ahmed said the government should henceforth pay ransom on behalf of abductors.
"We demand that the Government of Ondo State and that of Owo Local Government should henceforth settle whatever ransom that might be demanded from any victim of kidnapping on Owo roads," he said.
"This can be payable from the security votes of the chief executives. Security votes are not meant to be put in pockets of chief executives. We learnt that the Rufus Giwa staff was killed because the money for his ransom was not raised on time after all other victims were freed."