AKURE—THE South West Governors’ Forum, yesterday, set up a security committee to look into the desirability and operations of commercial motorcycles, popularly known as okada.
The forum also vowed to combat the threat of insurgency and terrorism in the region.
This came on a day the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, disclosed how security operatives averted what could have been the most devastating incident in the history of Nigeria, on the same day Owo attack took place.
Meanwhile, the South West Governors’ Forum declared a 3-day mourning period in memory of victims of the terror attack on St. Francis Catholic Church, Owaluwa Street, Owo, in Ondo State.
They also directed the flying of flags at half mast in all public buildings, facilities and official residences across all the states in the South-West, in honour of the victims of the Owo terror attack.
Rising from a virtual meeting, the governors said that the mourning period should commence from today.
Governors, who participated in the virtual meeting include the forum’s Chairman, Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Dr. Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun) and Seyi Makinde (Oyo).
The communiqué read: “The recent attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owaluwa Street, Owo, compels immediate intervention in the whole of the South West to nip the insidious phenomenon of insurgency in the bud.
“The meeting, consequently, took decisions, some of which are expected to have far-reaching implications in the quest to protect lives and property in the region.
“The governors noted, with great discomfiture, the increasing agitations about spaces taken over by unidentified and unknown migrants in all South-West states.
“The meeting, therefore, recommends an increase in the scope of surveillance of the activities of these undocumented settlers by relevant security agencies in all the states.
“The governors, as chief security officers, resolved to continue to assist the security agencies in the areas of crisis management and intelligence gathering at all times.
“The governors reviewed reports from various States on the factors militating against peace and security in the region. They expressed grave concern on the influx of Okada riders into all parts of the South-West, especially the State capitals.
“The meeting further resolved that efforts be geared toward identity management of Okada riders and stringent regulation put in place for their operation.
“Consequently, the forum decided it was time to reconvene the South-West Security Committee to look critically into this creeping menace before it blossoms into another intractable social problem.
“The committee will be expected to submit its findings on the desirability of Okada operations in the region. It is also expected to submit a multi-level template to combat the threat of insurgency and terrorism in the region.
I won’t be silenced by cowardly acts, Akeredolu vows
At a separate forum in Akure, yesterday, Governor Akeredolu vowed not to be silenced by the cowardly acts of the terrorists who killed unarmed worshipers.
The governor, who spoke at a special interdenominational prayer service, organised by the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in Owo and held at the premises of the St. Francis Catholic Church where the worshipers were killed last Sunday, said: “The South-West and the state in particular cannot be conquered by the enemies of the people under any guise.
“The dastardly act committed in Owo was targeted to create fears into the mind of the people.
“I will not be silenced by the cowardly acts of the terrorists who killed children, women and unharmed worshipers at St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo last Sunday.”
The governor also visited the Federal Medical Center and St. Louis Hospital, both in Owo to check on the survivors of the attack on admission.
He encouraged all places of worship to install CCTV cameras and engage local security men to further provide security in their premises.
How we averted catastrophic attack —CDS
Meanwhile, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, yesterday, disclosed that security operatives averted what could have been the most devastating incident in the history of Nigeria.
General Irabor disclosed this while appearing on a Channels Television’s special progamme tagged ‘Democracy Day: Giving Hope To Nigerians’.
He stated that the catastrophe was averted in Kano State the same week gunmen opened fire on worshippers at a Catholic church in Owo – a town in Ondo State.
He noted that the security situation in Nigeria has improved in the last one year, adding that the incident in Owo does not take away that fact.
His words: “Perhaps, you may not know that just only the same week of the Owo incident, in Kano, for example, given the intelligence available to security agencies, we were able to botch what would have been the most catastrophic incident within our country.”
Recounting how the disaster was averted, he said: “In that operation, we recovered Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs, making materials.
“We recovered a large quantum of arms and ammunition and other materials which, of course, the criminals were intending to use in various parts of the country, including Abuja. That the Owo incident happened does not imply that improvements have not happened.
“Let me state that this is a process, and if you could take a look at the war stage in countries around the world, you will find incidents of violence and criminality in one way or the other.
“The dastardly act committed in Owo was targeted at creating fears in the minds of the people.
“I will not be silenced by the cowardly acts of the terrorists who killed children, women and unharmed worshipers at St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, last Sunday.”