Gunmen have kidnapped a set of twins at the residence of an Islamic cleric in the Ojoo area of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
The two-year-old twins are children of a former Chairman of the Oyo State Pilgrim’s Welfare Board (Muslim wing), Sheikh Taofeek Akeugbagold.
In a social media post where he broke the news, the victims’ father said the kidnappers attacked his residence at about 8pm on Saturday night after he went out for a Ramadan lecture.
He lamented that his wife was barren for 12 years before she was blessed with the twins and pleaded for their safe return.
The Commissioner of Police in Oyo, Shina Olukolu, confirmed the incident to Channels Television on Sunday.
He revealed that the police have arrested four suspects from the domestic staff of the cleric and were being questioned.
Mr Olukolu explained that the Islamic cleric had reportedly been threatened by two members of his staff who had been sacked, although he did not report to the police.
He noted that the sacked employees had been threatening their former boss on the phone before gunmen invaded his residence and kidnapped his two children.
The police commissioner added that one of the sacked workers who threatened the cleric was at large as he had moved away from his apartment.
As at the time of this report, no demand for ransom has been made but the police said investigations have commenced and gave an assurance that the children would be found and reunited with their family.
Religious leaders in Nigeria have suggested ways to end the Boko Haram insurgency in the country, cautioning that the military does not need a deadline to fight insurgency.
At a meeting attended by the Minister of Information, Islamic Cleric, Sheikh Muhammad Nuru Khalid, said that deadlines are not helpful anywhere in the world to fight insurgency.
With less than three weeks to the expiry date given by the Presidency to end Boko Haram insurgency, the cleric said that there was need for a review of approaches as it appeared the end is not in sight.
The Anglican Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, also noted that the message of peace should transcend mere talk to the people in the troubled north.
Although the cleric encouraged a regulation of preaching, especially in the troubled north, Archbishop Okoh said that the idea of developing a code of conduct for religious leaders should be treated with caution.
Nevertheless, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, urged the clerics to use their position and influence to drum up support in the war against insurgency.
It was unanimously agreed that taking the message of peace to the grassroots might bring the nation’s worst nightmare to an end.
The Chairman of the Amnesty Programme, Kingsley Kuku, has said that the almost absolute cooperation of the people of Northeast Nigeria is the only way to solve insurgency in Nigeria, and not just the Army.
Mr Kuku was a guest on Channels Television’s flagship breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, where he discussed the crisis situation in the country, digging from his experience as one of the key players in solving the challenge of militancy in the Niger-Delta region.
He explained that solving the problem of the Boko Haram sect was dependent on how much information the people of the local communities are able to provide to their local chiefs, local government leaders and security agencies.
Answering questions about the safety of people who provide information, particularly with reference to the killing of an Islamic cleric, Sheik Albani, in Kaduna State, Kuku maintained that the killing of Albani was one waiting to happen and which could have been avoided with the right information.
He noted that the Boko-Haram crisis was not a religious issue but wholly about a sect that wants to impose its will on a country, and this explains why both Christians and Muslims were being attacked.
He cited the processes used in solving the Niger-Delta crisis through the help of persons who volunteered to speak with the key players in the militancy, based on their personal relationships with them or communal links to them and their families.
He also mentioned notable Nigerians from the Niger-Delta region who joined in the negotiations, including President Goodluck Jonathan, who then was a Deputy-Governor in Bayelsa State and Chief Tony Anenih who he said offered to lay down his life despite being from Edo State which was not among the states under the attacks by the militants.
The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, said that those who are criticizing Government and blaming President Goodluck Jonathan out of ignorance were just wasting their time and postponing the doom day for Nigeria, insisting that this was a case of terrorism and it should not be politicised.
Kuku also took a swipe at the Interim National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr Lai Mohammed, who appeared on Sunrise Daily a day before. He berated the APC leader for what he termed “performing at his lowest” despite his intelligence, during the interview where he accused the Government of lacking strategic discipline in the fight against the insurgents.
He explained that these insurgents have been heard speaking a totally foreign language, which is neither Hausa nor any of the languages spoken in Nigeria, insisting that the people must rise to fight this invasion by foreigners.
On the availability of a secure network to protect people who provide information, he regretted that some unsuspecting Nigerian youths have been indoctrinated into the violence under the guise of fighting a just cause, but it must be noted that there are also some elders who constantly condemn those youths and they can still be of help in the mission to end insurgency in Nigeria.
He admitted that the sect and their agitation had existed since the administration of former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, but it became political during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan owing to its fanning by some Nigerian politicians who were playing politics with the sect’s agitation for a Muslim president without looking at the future implication of their actions which has now snowballed into the current situation.
The response time of security agents to distress calls also came to the fore. Mr Kuku vehemently refused to admit that the Nigerian military was slow in responding to calls of people under attack. He explained that the land mass of the North-east was a peculiar one that does not make it realistic for troops to get on the road immediately they receive calls, when they only have to connect with their men who are closest to the crisis location.
Mr Kuku insisted that the Nigerian Army had done very well in the fight against insurgents in the North-east and could not have done better under the circumstances in which they were operating. He insisted that criticism of the forces was unfair and should not be politicised.