By Isaac Olusesi
The value of the recovered loots is put at #142,777,700 by independent valuers. Meaning, the adulterated section of Nigerian youths is standing trial in the court of public opinion. Their low public rating has further nosedived in the wake of the ‘End Special Anti-Robbery Squad’ (ENDSARS) protest across the nation with the free, full reins of frightening invasion, uncanny attack, mysterious looting and eerie vandalism or weird destruction.
The rating of the outlawry protesters took a deep plunge in State of Osun, with the gory politics of raw tyranny, hallmarked by assassination attempt, Saturday, October 17, 2020, on the life of Governor Gboyega Oyetola that also ricocheted like an errant bullet in Osogbo, state capital and other cities, towns, spreading to 14Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Osun, Friday, Saturday, October 23, 24, 2020, and dotted with chilling looting of Cocoa Processing Industry, Ede which simultaneously stepped up horrifying looting spree on other government facilities, business premises and personal houses in the affected council areas, with princely properties looted in the face of compulsive criminality as gunfire crackled sporadically, albeit intermittently, far and wide.
The hoodlum’s strategy preceded the property owners who were reportedly kept in solitary confinement under their roofs and had terror unleashed on them and family members, their heart sank in rude pains, tragic losses and wrecking fear; and the vandal’s mission was to escape with the loots without trace while the property owners, depending on faith, parroted the Psalmist verse: “The Lord is my Shepherd,” and Quranic lines: “Lailah illa Lahu,” “Walahu Yasimuka mina Nasi,” “Laula Walau uwata Ilabi Laluli Asim.” And as the Sun made to set, daily basis, the property owners relived the horror of the dastardly attack!
In Osun, the chaotic atmosphere flashed feelings of general insecurity, with proclivity, weighty enough to have made the state ungovernable. Gosh! The recalcitrant youths pushed the state to the dire straits, and the misfortunes of incommoded prospects of suffering from psychological indignity and rowdy social configuration made Osun residents visibly prostrate, rented with bated breath over the pervasive invasion, gripping attack, mindless looting, wanton vandalism, colossal losses and grave mutual suspicion, enamoured with certainty of uncertainty that engulfed the state. Apparently angered particularly at the spate of primitive destruction, its gravity in depth and width, the Governor rose from an extraordinary security meeting, gravely disturbed and thought aloud : ‘I am not in support of this trending mayhem; I won’t tolerate this anomaly.”
Pronto! The Governor slammed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on the state by Executive Order and instantly, the palpable fear across the state ceased as the governor pulled the chestnut out of a raging inferno. The curfew nipped in the bud any probable repro, recast or reignition of any such rash destruction and saved Osun from diving into abyss. And for the period, any rebuff of the curfew order not only could have constituted serious implications for the state but could also have provoked him to invoke his power to order that the renegades be fished out immediately. On the spot! And nothing could have happened.
But the Governor’s preference for curfew practically permitted instant capitulation in ghost silence. No more street summersaults with reckless abandon. No more secret moves with careless abandon. No more villainy, barbaric behavior. No more hired cheerers. No more fox game. No more gallery antics. No more spite. No more veering with stoicism. And Osun publics got protected from the wild, wide youths. In the super estimation of the Governor, any kid glove approach might cause disintegration of the state so much as the imperatives of democracy in the circumstances dictated caution and integrated consultation.
However, normalcy has since returned to Osun, with life and living in full gear in the state. Metaphorically, the door, once locked by the hoodlum’s whims was thrown ajar by the curfew fumes. The state is back to the status quo ante. No more curfew. But the toll of the callous looting was galling and huge in details as confirmed by the Governor’s facts finding mission across the affected 14 LGAs- Ede North, Ede South, Ilesa West, Ilesa East, Atakumosa West, Oriade, Osogbo, Olorunda, Orolu, Irepodun, Egbedore, Iwo, Ifelodun and Bolorunduro.
And the Governor did not back off from the ugly situation reports as he earnestly began the processes of healing. One, religious leaders, traditional rulers and other community leaders were urged to prevail on the rampaging youths to sheathe their swords. Two, the mischief makers behind the degraded youths were sternly warned against spelling doom for Osun. Three, security operatives were charged to be on top of the situation. And four, 73-hour amnesty to looters to return their loots to designated points or face the wrath of the law after amnesty, with the Abdullah Adeyanju Binuyo Loots Recovery Committee inaugurated, October 26, 2020 to recover, document all looted properties within the state and return them to rightful owners after verification.
Binuyo is the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor. Abinitio, from the beginning, he knew what the gamut of the assignment was. Binuyo’s mien, straight faced but unruffled, underlined the resolve of the government on the matter and he neither buckled under pressure nor developed cold feet that could have caused truth to die, justice to suffer, and healing pains to be stillborn. While public awareness via press releases, circulation of jingles and promotions by offline, online media was adequately generated, the Governor’s 72-hour amnesty provided an escape route, an alibi of sorts, for looters to return the loots, with their ego unbruised.
And like in a thunder clap, “many of the people in possession of looted properties are already responding in just 24hours after Governor’s amnesty directive,” Binuyo enthused in a chat. In Osogbo, the looter’s eruption in a rat race to return the loots at dusk to avoid any Android photo shots was melodramatic. One Kunle Odewale as his name was later known, had his loot, a middle sized Deep Freezer hit the road shoulder with a dull thud and somewhat incidentally, his two legs got severed from the rest of the body. The looter has artificial legs! Bystanders were amazed to see the man in his early 40s, linked to looting ‘jamboree.’ And the man crawled on his two hands away from the loot, shrieked, screamed and pleaded in ultimate surrender to fate, asking for help to have his artificial legs inched back to position. The man had his ego totally bruised; other looters, their ego fairly contused, bruised; and yet most had no ego to injure or bruise.
For ease of recovery and release of the looted properties, the Binuyo committee’s Enumeration forms were used for the compilation of victims of looting and Recovery forms, for listing looted items, signed by LGAchairman, palace representative and committee member. Meanwhile, the Governor inspected the recovered loots, 46different items in multiple number looted from multiple points. The recovery held him spellbound for moments. Incredible! Upsetting! His 72-hour amnesty dunked, banged on the looters, sent the right signal to the debased, corrupted, adulterated fraction of #ENDSARS protesters who became a law to themselves for the moment; and the amnesty also got the dare thievery in them tamed. And generally, the amnesty became an eye opener of sorts, for the people of Osun now know the adroit, skilful stock of leadership in the Governor. Thus, his grandstanding on the gross abuse visited on him recently by obsessive youth miscreants cannot be timidity or hamstrung. That’s it.
And soonest after inspection by the Governor, the committee returned the recovered loots to rightful owners through a detailed but concise, thorough scrutiny and requisite verification of necessary and sufficient evidence, with the state Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on hand for proper documentation and on the authority, permission and approval of the Loots Recovery Committee chairman. The return of the recovered loots, in the press, public glee, lasted 11days. The assignment ended successfully.
Justice done! Unimpaired! The committee has not disappointed anyone and Osun can no longer be held hostage to the lawlessness of adulterated #EndSARS protest.
Or any other gang for that matter, adulterated. Or unadulterated.
*Olusesi is Assistant Director, Directorate of Publicity, Research & Strategy of All Progressives Congress (APC), State of Osun.