The acting Director of Defence Information, Col Onyema Nwachukwu, in an interview with newsmen in Abuja, said if a directive was given, the military would comply.
Traditional rulers, including the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji; motorists and residents of the South-West in separate interviews with newsmen, said the Federal Government had yet to deploy troops in the zone as it promised after Mrs Funke Olakunri, a daughter of the Afenifere leader, Pa Ruben Fasorati, was killed by suspected herdsmen in Ondo State on July 12.
On Thursday, the Vice-President’s office said Osinbajo did not promise a date for troop deployment on highways, but only stated that it was being considered as an option to tackle insecurity
When asked to comment on remarks by traditional rulers that there was no military presence in their areas and their people could not go to farms, Nwachukwu stated, “If a directive is given, the armed forces definitely have to comply. Everything has to go through due process.”
He stated, “The fact is that we have an existing joint operations with other security agencies in the South-West. Although we have an existing operation, if a directive is given, definitely, those operations can be reviewed. We have Operation Awatse which we are jointly conducting with other security agencies. There are other Quick Response groups around there.”
When contacted, the Vice-President’s office said Osinbajo only said troop deployment was a possible option to be taken by the Federal Government.
The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the VP, Mr Laolu Akande, who made a reaction, stated, “The Vice-President said it was one of the options (troop deployment); not that he gave a date. Go and check what he said again. He said one of the options.”
In Ekiti State, the Alara of Aramoko Ekiti, Oba Olu Adeyemi, who stated that he had not noticed any deployment of troops, said, “I don’t think that much has been done on the said deployment noticeably. We are only hoping that they will do something.
“Government should make good the promise to carry out surveillance and to keep vigil over the troubled places otherwise the security situation will worsen. If the bandits find out that no efforts are being made, they will be strengthened to continue to launch attacks. But for now, there is no noise around the place. Government should actualize its dream,” the monarch said.
A community leader in Ise Ekiti, Tunji Falana, who corroborated the traditional ruler, said: “I have not noticed any (troop deployment). They (the Federal Government) should start the planned troop deployment immediately”.
The community leader, who said his community had about 56,000 square kilometres of reserves, which were occupied by strange faces, canvassed community policing.
According to him, the community policing should include the Oodua Peoples Congress, Agbekoya and local hunters.
A traditional ruler, the Owa Ooye of Okemesi Ekiti, Oba Gbadebo Adedeji, who said he had not heard in the news that troop had been deployed in any road in the state, said, “The security situation is bad and the solution that the government is proffering is not the best.
“Aerial surveillance and troops deployment are not what we need right now particularly in the South-West. What is the adequacy of the troops they have that they are thinking of deploying them on the roads?
“How are we sure of the mindset of those people they are going to deploy? What is their position, how do we know those people are going to really protect us? Which of the roads do they want to deploy the troops?”
The traditional ruler of Auga Akoko in Akoko North-East Local Government Area of the state, Oba Samuel Agunloye, said there were no troops on the highways in the area. He added that there was no aerial surveillance in the area.
He said the regular policemen were the only ones that occasionally patrolled the highways. The monarch stated, “We don’t have any troops here in this area. We have not seen any aerial surveillance here too. May-be they can start today or tomorrow; we don’t know, but for now nothing like that.”
The monarch of Osi Community in Akure North Local Government Area of the state, Oba David Olajide, said no aerial surveillance or troops had been working in the forest and the highways in the local government area.
“Also at that time we saw a helicopter moving round for few days but later we didn’t see it again. But as I am speaking with you now, there is no more helicopter and the soldiers too have gone, but we still have few checkpoints mounted by policemen on the expressway.”
Similarly, Mr. Olusegun Elegbe, who resides in Oniparaga in the Odigbo Local Government Area, also confirmed the presence of military men on the roads in the area, a few weeks ago, but said the soldiers had been redeployed from the area.
“About two weeks ago , we saw many soldiers at almost every 500 metres on our roads while helicopter too flew over our area here but now they are no more there.
In Ogun State, investigations showed that there were neither troops nor aerial surveillance in any part of the state.
He said, “There are no troops here. The Federal Government should do the needful, instead of combing the bushes. It should stop herdsmen incursion and give traditional rulers specific constitutional roles to play”.
The Olu of Alabata in the Odeda Local Government Area, Waheed Sanusi, said there were no troops and aerial surveillance in his communities.
The pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, said it had not observed increased police presence in the south-western states of Ondo, Ogun, Oyo, Ekiti and Lagos, as promised by the police authorities in the aftermath of Olakunri’s death.
Afenifere spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, explained that no troops had been dispatched to beef up security on the highways as promised by Osinbajo.
“This clearly shows that the Federal Government does not have any commitment to the security of the region; This is the reason armed herdsmen are still freely carrying out killings and abductions in the region.”
Speaking with newsmen, Olajide also queried both governors of Ondo and Ekiti states, Rotimi Akeredolu and Dr. Kayode Fayemi, on why they had yet to make drones available as they promised the people, few days ago.
He said, “I have been quite uncomfortable since the incident of the latest kidnap of a son of one of my junior colleagues, who was shot and kidnapped on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway by suspected herdsmen. It is an ominous sign that the siege on our land is real and has been further confirmed.
“We have heard of the impending surveillance of our forests by the government in the last four weeks and again, the VP, our son, came and promised us of troop deployment to fish out the criminals in the bush, yet nothing is on the ground.
“Governors of Ondo and Ekiti also promised us drones to flush the criminal elements. I am yet to see any drone or troops anywhere near the forests. The impression now is that we have been rounded up in the Southwest especially with the Tuesday’s kidnap incident on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
“Olubadan will like a situation where the security of our people is adequately catered for as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic. For now there is no presence of troops anywhere, at least to the best of understanding of Kabiyesi,’’ Oloko said. (NAN)