Troops have been sighted on the newly opened road linking the Federal Capital Territory to Otukpo in Benue State down to Southeastern Nigeria. Travelers have noted the presence and it has become part of the stuff through informal channels of communication even as sporadic cases of kidnapping are feared.
On June 21st, 2020, for instance, kidnappers stuck very early in the day, early enough to clear out before the road became busy. Again, that incident was never reported although those who were caught in it but escaped exchanged text messages to that effect.
A June 6th, 2020 Intervention story drew attention to the kidnapping of over 40 persons on that route, including the unusual dimension to it which is that the kidnappers never called families of the victims for any ransom as is typical.
The informal channels are abuzz with the happy sighting of troops although it is not clear if it is strictly about the route or part of the tightening of security around Nasarawa State as Police go after the killers of Mr. Amos Obere, the District Head of Odu Village in Nasarawa Local Government Area. A News Agency of Nigeria report had quoted the Police as saying the District Head was attacked last Friday, subsequently giving up the ghost at the General Hospital, Mararaba Udege.
The Police Command in Nasarawa State has vowed to track and fish out the killers and the troops sighted might be part of a joint patrol just as it could also be part of a specific security package for the road.
Police sources neither denied nor confirmed how dangerous the road has become, meaning they must have been investigating developments there. The appearance of troops might also not be unconnected with the folk theory that insecurity on the road is as a result of migration of the kidnappers who have been operating on Abuja – Lokoja Highway and that this explains the proficiency of the practice on the FCT-Loko-Oweto Road. As usual with folk theories, it is silent on why kidnappers might migrate from a more ‘lucrative’ route to one that is patronized mainly by those seeking no more than emotive link with ‘home’ on weekends.
One plausible explanation might be the splendor of the new road and the impression that its users must also be wealthy travelers. But, except the Southeast end of the road, what economic activities take place in predominantly agrarian and civil service spaces of Benue and Nasarawa states that would attract kidnappers looking for victims from whom to collect ransom?