BREAKING NEWS: Rising cases of kidnapping worry Nigerians

Rising cases of kidnapping worry Nigerians

Rising cases of kidnapping worry Nigerians

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In the last two weeks, cases of kidnapping assumed a dangerous and frightening dimension.

Kidnapping is not new in Nigeria but since 2014 when scores of secondary school girls were abducted from a secondary school in Chibok, Borno State by the Boko Haram Islamist sect, the country has not experienced mass kidnap.

But on March 3, Nigerians woke up to the news of the kidnap of 112 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from their camp, Gamboru Ngala in Borno State.

Just as Nigerians were still discussing the development and wondering whether the country is relapsing into the period of 2014 when Chibok girls were kidnapped in their numbers, the roughnecks, last week, March 7, struck again in , where they abducted about 287 children from primary and secondary schools.

This was coming four days after the Borno incident. According to a teacher in one of the schools attacked, Sani Abdullahi, who was also lucky to have escaped, out of the 287, 100 pupils were taken from the primary school, while the remaining 187 were abducted from the secondary school.

However, just as the dust about the incident was about to settle, Kajuri village, also in Kaduna, was on Monday, March 11, invaded and scores kidnapped.

This also happened four days after 287 school children were kidnapped. According to a resident, Dauda Kajuru, the kidnappers stormed the community in large numbers and started shooting indiscriminately, an operation where the bandits abducted no fewer than 61 persons.

“What happened yesterday was terrifying. The bandits came intending to abduct scores of people that would outnumber that of the school pupils in Kuriga village of Chikun Local Area, but the swift response of who were not more than two kilometres away from Kajuru curtailed the number that they kidnapped.

“My siblings were part of those abducted yesterday and based on the information available as of this morning, the bandits with their victims are yet to get to their destination,” he stated.

Earlier before the Kajuru incidents, about 15 students were equally kidnapped in Sokoto State.

The kidnappers of the 287 children initially asked for N40 trillion, some motorcycles and cars as ransom before the children could be released, but yesterday, Thursday, March 15, they reduced it to N1 billion. They have also given the government 15 days to make the N1 billion available or they would kill all the children.

Nigerians have been speaking, with some saying that kidnapping has become a thriving business with powerful and influential Nigerians behind the trade.

Some are alleging that those behind the organised crime could be within the government.

Those who are pushing this narrative are of the opinion that there is no way ordinary kidnappers would be making such outrageous demands as N1 billion. They stressed that most times, when the kidnappers are arrested, there is nothing about them to show that they have been the ones collecting all the humongous amounts of money as ransom.

There is a general belief that those who actually carry out the kidnap are agents or mercenaries to the moneybag who pull the strings from behind the scene.

Those who hold this opinion also buttress their position with the fact that the bandits or kidnappers bear sophisticated weapons, which cost fortunes to acquire.

However, there are others who believe that some members of the security agents are complicit in the whole drama.

Those who hold this view have argued that if the security agents are not involved, there is no way, as many as over 200 children, would be kidnapped and successfully taken away without being intercepted.

Those on this side of the divide are also insisting that even some villagers are equally involved, otherwise there is no way the bandits or kidnappers would move such a huge number of people away from their schools without any trace.

Today, the bandits have given an ultimatum during which N1 billion is expected to get to them or they would kill all the victims.

But, has said emphatically that the government would not pay a dime to get the victims back.

He has, however, given the security agencies marching orders to ensure a safe return of all the 287 children, as well as others who have been in kidnappers' den across the country.

Worried by the development, the presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP) in the 2023 general elections and former governor of Anambra State, Mr took to his X-handle to declare that the abduction of school children was unacceptable.

Obi said it was unacceptable that Nigerian children would not be allowed to learn in a secure environment because of criminals, even as he charged the relevant authorities to leave no stone unturned in ensuring that children go to school and learn in a conducive atmosphere and that citizens worship their creator and go about their businesses without hindrance.

He said: “Just yesterday, I was lamenting the horrible spate of killings, terror attacks, and abductions in the country, while calling for more concerted efforts to combat the menace.

“We are again confronted with the ugly news of the abduction of over 200 pupils and students plus a teacher of local primary and junior secondary schools in Kuriga, Chikun Local Government area of Kaduna State.

“While every effort should be directed towards the safe release of the children, better security measures need to be implemented to avoid future occurrences.”

Obi noted that even though insecurity had continued to bore down on every sector of the country's national existence, its negative impact on education would be more devastating for the nation.

“We are already contending with an army of over 18 million out-of-school children, arising from the closure of schools due to insecurity. Further attacks on schools will only aggravate these numbers, drive more children into the streets, and add to the insecurity situation of the country.

“I once again appeal to the government, both state and federal, to explore all possible means to ensure the safe release of the abducted school children. I urge every Nigerian to continue to work and pray for the nation so that we can collectively conquer our challenges.

“We must ensure that every Nigerian child can pursue his/her dreams and aspirations in a safe and secure nation. This is our duty in the New Nigeria which is possible,” he stated.

Also, the wife of the President and first lady, Sen Oluremi , has called for stiffer sanctions against kidnappers, insisting that Nigerians were at war with kidnappers.

“We should look into the laws we would bring up. On the issue of kidnapping, it is like we are in a war, a war against kidnapping and kidnappers”, she told the senators representing the three senatorial districts of Lagos State, who paid her a courtesy visit in her office at the State House Abuja.

She also admonished Nigerians to help one another, saying, “The administration of President Tinubu is resolute to leave a legacy for generations yet unborn. This takes a lot of sacrifice and courage”.

Contributing to the discourse, Daniel Bwala, former spokesman to the former vice president of Nigeria and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate in the last general election, Alhaji , took a swipe at those who believe that the growing insecurity leading to sharp rise in cases of kidnap is a ploy to unsettle Tinubu's administration.

He said: “The notion or narrative that the intense insecurity in the land is a ploy to upset or unsettle Tinubu's administration is a decoy narrative either by the security operatives or politicians in a bid to give President Tinubu an impression that it is a case of us versus them; then he will not bother about the effectiveness or the ineffectiveness of law enforcement and the security agencies.

“Usually, that is the tactic and we have seen the movie before. During former President Muhammadu Buhari's administration, it was the same thing.

“You remember when Buhari started the war against corruption. The moment stories started coming out about public officers in his employ and appointment, who were involved in corruption, they immediately built a narrative for him that it was corruption fighting back, and the moment he accepted that notion, everything you said about public officers under his administration meant nothing to him.

“He never took it serious, he never commissioned the law enforcement agents to be brutal about it because he has been made to believe that it os us versus them, and this is the narrative that some people are trying to build for President Tinubu to cover for their inability to deal with situation that is handed to them.

“That is why I like what the president said that he does have the luxury of time, meaning he does not believe their cock and bull stories. You have to go and deal with this or I have to make a decision.”

He noted that the insecurity problem that is facing the country is local and the solution is also local.

He advised the government to be careful in accepting the offer by some international partners to help Nigeria combat the insecurity situation, because according to him, oftentimes, these foreign governments use that as a plot to negotiate their interest.

“They never mean well and they will never solve our problems. To drive home my point, when an American missionary was kidnapped, you saw the swiftness which the American forces applied to rescue the person.

“If they really wanted to help us, from when Boko Haram started till today, we would have been able to deal decisively with Boko Haram. Have our army and soldiers not been arresting foreign nationals amid Boko Haram fighters? So, let us treat this kind of Greek gift with caution.

“Why did I say that our problem is local? Our problem is local because this emerging issue of kidnapping is a crisis economy and these guys you see in the bush abducting people are mere mercenaries. The real profiteers are in town, in white collar jobs; some of them in government agencies, in banking, and other business interests.

“This is why, in the application of Terrorism Prevention Act, we need to look deeply into what it provides. The office of the National Security Adviser that is a coordinating body, the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, that is the administrator of the Act itself, in terms of bringing regulation for facilitation of fighting corruption, then the law enforcement, which deals with intelligence, security, prevention and detection.

“When we discuss in detail, I will prove to you that our problem is local and the law enforcement and security chiefs are in the eye of the storm,” he said while appearing on Arise Television.

On his views about president Tinubu's position that ransom would not be paid, he said: “I agree with the President because he must have been briefed, based on intelligence, that the individuals behind ransom are white collar people.

“So, continuing to pay ransom is simply feeding this crisis economy thereby financing them, and in turn, they will be able to procure more arms to build that economy to be much stronger than our oil and gas industry.

“The bandits know that once you abduct school children, primary or secondary, it will take international dimension immediately because it falls under the convention of the United Nations and the responsibility squarely falls on the Federal Government.

“But, if you abduct families, business people and the rest, they are deemed under international convention as local acts of crime. That is why they have the courage to demand N40 trillion, 150 motorcycles and some cars as if they want to go and set up a new country.”

On the 15-day ultimatum given by the bandits, he said: “Imagine the bandits giving 15 days to kill the children if ransom is not paid. Fifteen days are enough time for all of them to be decimated.

“This is where the question of intelligence comes in. All of these investments in the procurement of devices for tracking and tracing, surveillance and interception, where are they? Are they functional?

“When somebody steals a phone, these law enforcement agents will trace and catch the person, but when terrorists are involved in a crime, it becomes an issue.

“So, everybody comes to President Tinubu and forms one narrative or the other so that the President will approve money. But, we have not asked questions about the ones that have been provided in the past.”

“It appears some people are benefitting and that is why we have not been able to end this scourge. There are some forms of sabotage and complicity; there are people within who are deliberately ensuring that this problem continues. Why is it hard for the government to deal with these people if that is the case? Why is it difficult for the government to deal with them?

He also agreed that people in high places were benefitting from the kidnapping business, and that was why it was not abating.

“Kidnapping is a thriving economy in Nigeria. That is why all manner of people are involved. We have seen church executive members involved in kidnapping in Jos; we have family members involved in kidnapping of their loved ones; we have seen husbands ask that he be kidnapped so that the wife can pay ransom.

“A few years ago under Buhari, in Zamfara, where the current Minister of State for Defence was the governor, his government was characterised by payment of ransom.

“In fact, there was a time when revelation came out that the payment of ransom involved a DSS member, a Nigeria soldier, a and a traditional chief.

“So, these guys who are into kidnapping and banditry, have you ever seen them with flashy cars, or living a lifestyle that will suggest that they actually use these monies that they have been collecting from people?

“That is why I state that this requires a political will to end it because the kidnapping economy is thriving and expanding to a point where you cannot even vow for a member of your own estate where you live. This is because the moment you change a car, somebody somewhere will be given information about your life,” he said.

He suggested that the way out of the current insecurity in Nigeria is for the President to learn from the former American President, Donald Trump and employ the services of Private Consultants.

“All our retired military generals and officers should be encouraged to form their own PMCs and let the government engage private intelligence and security. And we will bring an end to this madness within a short time,” he said.

Bwala also stated that if the President wants to beat the 15-day deadline of the bandits without paying ransom, he should just summon the political will to give marching orders to his security chief and the victims would be back safely within the shortest possible time.

“If President wants them back in 15 days, he should threaten to relieve the security chiefs of their jobs if in the next 15 days the victims are not rescued.

“The president has to be decisive. There is very strong complicity in the system. I have every reason to believe that strategic people, even in security, are behind the kidnapping,” he submitted.

Also contributing, Ik Onodi, a lawyer and public affairs commentator told DAILY POST that kidnapping for ransom is thriving because there is a seeming state of anarchy in the country.

“The primary purpose of government is the security of lives and property; we have lost that far back. Anytime you mention kidnapping, what comes to my mind is Chibok girls. That kidnappers can take Nigerians in their hundreds and take them to another part of this same country and keep them there and the government cannot find these people out is a slap on Nigeria as a sovereign state.

“One of the features of a state is the possession of the instrument of coercion. Now, some renegades called kidnappers have become so powerful that they can take Nigerians to another part of Nigeria, keep them there and the government cannot rescue them.

“It shows that we are in a state of anarchy. It shows that the government cannot exercise the instrument of coercion; rather it is the non-state actors that now exercise the instrument of coercion. That is why they can take people and keep them away somewhere and the government cannot find them.

“It is either the government cannot find them, or the government itself and some of its institutions are complicit in the whole game.

“We have also lost the whole of the sacredness of human lives; we don't value liberty again. That is why over 200 children and their teachers will be taken from their school in Kaduna and the next day, the President of the country, who is the Commander-in-Chief, is commissioning an airport in Niger State, while the kidnapped victims remain in captivity.

“That tells you that we have lost our sense of value. We don't value ourselves again. It is now business as usual. It is very pathetic and unfortunate,” he said.

For Chief Anthony Obidulu, an industrialist, corruption is what is fuelling kidnapping.

“What do you expect from a country where snakes can swallow N1 billion? If a snake can consume money, how much do you expect human beings to consume?” he queried.

He also attributed the ugly trend to the neglect of the weak and the poor, as well as the lifestyles of the political class.

“People cannot go to the farms anymore because of insecurity and the government is not doing anything. The poor can't go to the farms, they can't go anywhere anymore; what do you expect them to do?

“The financial recklessness of the politicians is also aiding kidnapping. Their flamboyant lifestyles are a contributory factor,” he said in an interview with DAILY POST.

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