That some Nigerians have awarded to themselves oil blocks in kidnapping for ransom is no longer in doubt. The concern is how long we would remain preys to be hunted to satisfy the greed of these fellow citizens.
Four students and two teachers of Senior and Junior Model College, Igbonla, Epe Lagos became the latest victims last Thursday.
They were abducted by kidnappers who invaded the school premises, when students were having a special session in the school hall about 8am. The invaders fired gunshots into the air before making away with their victims, including a vice principal and head teacher.
Three female students of Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary in the Ikorodu area of Lagos had similarly been abducted from their hostels in the night of Monday February 29, this year.
Pipeline vandals who had been denied the opportunity of making money from stolen petroleum products were later found to be masterminds of the earlier kidnap and the finger also points at them in the latest episode.
But the oil pipeline vandals, allegedly of Ijaw extraction, are not alone in the abduction-for-cash business. It’s a national malady.
Former minister of environment, Laurentia Mallam and her husband, Pius ran into a roadblock between Jere junction in Kaduna and Bwari in the Federal Capital Territory, while returning from Abuja to Kaduna last Monday evening and were abducted and the captors demanded hefty ransom. They regained their freedom only last Wednesday.
A former vice-chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Olufemi Bamiro in another incident escaped being kidnapped last Wednesday in Ibadan, Oyo State, but was shot by his assailants.
Mrs. Margaret Emefiele, wife of the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, was also a recent victim of kidnappers. She was rescued in Delta State by security operatives.
Kidnapping for ransom is now the “new oil”, but there is also another variant, which is even more mind-boggling, kidnap-for-ritual.
While the police and other security agencies have had successful runs in stopping the criminal acts, the perpetrators remain undaunted and their ranks appear to be swelling.
Payment of ransom to the abductors in some cases did not translate to freedom for their victims. A notable traditional ruler in Delta State, Akaeze Ofulue was murdered and his corpse found days after his abductors had been paid a hefty ransom. Many others including traditional rulers, politicians, lecturers and businessmen had met their untimely ends in the hands of kidnappers.
It is wrong to assume that kidnapping would just fizzle out and those who have turned the act into a money-making venture would move on to legitimate means of live hood.
Definitely not with the mouth-watering sums scooped from relatives of victims, many of whom choose to by-pass the security agents to deal with the capturers out of fear for the safety of their loved ones.
It is high time the Federal Government declared kidnapping a national emergency, and a summit of relevant government, security agencies and experts held to review current efforts at taming the menace and to devise lasting solutions.
It is noteworthy that in some cases, police detectives have taken advantage of telecommunication devices to track and arrest the criminals. Since the kidnappers rely on telecom gadgets to reach out to their victims’ relatives to negotiate and claim ransom, the security agents must be on top of the game and knock them off using the same means.
There should also be a resolve to stop paying ransom to criminals. Since paying ransom does not even guarantee safe return of victims, Nigerians should take a stand against providing the incentive, which fuels the criminal act.
Kidnapping is symptomatic of the degeneration of societal values. Ours is a nation of anything goes, as long as selfish interest of a few is satisfied. This is really where the battle against social maladies such as kidnapping must start. Recreating a value system that emphasizes sanctity of life, respect for human dignity and freedom as well as living on legitimate earning. But is it government that is largely distrusted or churches and mosques whose impact on the congregation has waned or the families that are fractured that will turn the wheel in the right direction?
All of us are now games, waiting to be hunted by fellow beings, fellow citizens. How long more are we going to remain preys?
Re: Let’s take two steps forward
Nigeria at 56 has done much in corruption in governance, which PMB is trying to correct now. All hands must be on desk to support PMB to fight corruption in governance and other vices as we celebrate Nigeria at 56. We must move forward under the leadership of President Buhari despite the challenges in our economy. It is the test of our faith in God, after all, many nations have passed through difficult times and they came out of it.
Why will Nigeria not come out of this recession, after all, we have abundant resources both human and natural? We must unite to come out of this recession. God bless Nigeria.
–Mrs. Ijeoma N, Lagos.
Dear sir, “East is East West is West Twain never meet,” l forgot who said this, but this is the reality in Nigeria. It’s actually Fulani herdsmen vs. farmers’ situation in the country. We cannot talk of change if we leave our people in prison for speaking for what they believe in. We will believe in change if people locked-up for talking are set free. Use your good office to ask our leaders to lead by change, then selling the change ideology will be easy as ABC.
Citizen Abdulfatah, but even Buhari is blaming Goodluck now, can you advise Buhari too?
Looking at governance from independence, southerners who had been head of government made it through connivance with northern political parties. Even Azikwe’s non-executive presidency took his party NCNC to thwart its coalition with Action Group of the West to play a second fiddle with NPC of the North, in a coalition of two political incompatibles. That status is maintained to date through religious affiliation between North and Southwest. The 1993 election won by M.K.O Abiola but annulled by Gen. Babangida would perhaps have removed tribal and religious affiliations from the polity if it survived. From then to date, all southerners who became president were by proxy. And with such as a base, the current clamour for restructuring is inevitable.
The earlier Buhari embraces that, the better for all.
So, Nigeria’s problems stemmed from unacceptable north-skewed leadership thrust in the polity. With such as the political scenery, achievements by great leaders of countries on the same world platform with Nigeria in the past could not be achieved in the Nigerian political plain. Only a restructuring that would create a nation of Nigeria is the answer.
But I doubt if the distinct tribal incompatibility of Nigeria’s human contents would make that possible.
That is an indisputable fact Nigerians have to live with. Sad, sad indeed!
I humbly salute your rare courage to pass your un-filtered message. Your write-up is balanced and fair. Sincerely, leaders are elected by the people to solve problems. Considering, PMB’s style of governance, is PMB solution to our problems or part of it?
Dear Sir, thank you for your interesting write up. How do you expect the citizens to believe a president who is sectional?
Thanks for ‘Let’s take two steps forward.’ Buhari’s ‘Change begins with me’ is a diversionary gimmick. They are all liars and cheats.
Change will not happen when we keep celebrating failures in power.
Abdulfatah greetings. The last paragraph of your lucid piece captured the main reasons why our country’s growth is stunted. It is simply because equality, fairness, justice and adherence to established rules have since been done away with. This ugly trend became very prominent during the military rule.
All the culture of discipline, merit and rule of law we inherited from the British were slaughtered on the altar of political expediency. Every coup d’etat came with more devastating policy that either destroyed the civil service or the education system.
In the name of reforms, those aspects of our national life that sustained the patriotism of citizens were steadily eroded. It was in that era that it became acceptable that 10 to 15 senior officers could be retired just because the people in authority wanted to make way for a junior officer to come up.
What about the lies our politicians willfully tell during electioneering campaigns only to turn around to blame the electorate for expecting miracles too soon when they win. Simply put, our leaders are not credible. Thanks.
At 56 we are still believing in God to take us to our Promised Land when we failed to do the right things in governance because of selfish interests that put us where we are, unable to get out of third world nation classification.
Whereas we have resource to make Nigeria a better place for all.
We must unite to rescue Nigeria from recession before we see ourselves in depression. At 56, we must go back to the drawing board and plan for the future of Nigeria now that we have PMB that Nigeria’s problem is at heart.
It’s time we changed leadership orientation by carrying everybody along in governance irrespective of party difference.
–Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia.