THE SCOURGE OF KIDNAPPINGS IN NIGERIA: EXPERTS RECOMMEND SOLUTION
Kidnapping has become a menace and one of the security challenges in Nigeria. It is an illicit practice in which human-beings are forcefully abducted to an unknown destination for the purpose of payment of ransom by relatives. The predominance of this illicit practice has made the country to be ranked in the global index as one of the worst place to dwell.
Many factors account for this development, prominent among which include criminal source of money, elimination of political opponent, human sacrifice or for performance of rituals etc. Kidnapping has now become a generic word both in public and private discuss going by its prevalence in the country.
Kidnapping for ransom thrives in Nigeria because the material incentive and opportunity are there, and victims find it expedient to pay ransom. Reports has revealed that Nigerians paid N653.7 million ($1.2 million) as ransom in Nigeria between July 2021 and June 2022, a period of one year, for the release of captives.
It noted that the abductions, which are also almost evenly distributed across the country, have an impact on the Nigerian economy, as it has limited business and investment in the heaviest-hit areas.
Reports further shows that 327
incidents that resulted in 683 abductions were recorded in the month of December, 2022, A breakdown of the figures shows that the following states recorded the highest number of abductions: Zamfar 277, Sokoto 154, Kaduna 111,Katsina 57 and Federal Capital Territory 24.
Ondo State had the highest number of abductions in the South West with 10 people abducted, while Anambra State had 8 abductions making it the state
with the highest number in the South East region. Cross River State had a total of 5 abductions in the South-South making it the highest in the region.
On December 26, 2022, a viral video was released on social media platforms showing the abduction of a lieutenant in the Nigerian Army, P.P Johnson. The Lieutenant was said to have been kidnapped while visiting her grandmother in Aku-Okigwe, Imo state. The perpetrators in the video mentioned that they were targeting security forces who are agents of the Nigerian state and therefore their enemies. They claimed to be in Enugu state and had intentions of killing the Lieutenant. They declared their support for the sovereignty of Biafra against the Nigerian state. On December 27, 2022, several reports were featured on social media platforms indicating that a military operation had been launched and that the lieutenant had been released, but this was debunked in a statement issued by the Nigerian Army spokesperson, Onyema Nwachukwu. He condemned the group holding Lieutenant P.P. Johnson, who he said had stripped her naked and dehumanized her, regardless of the officer’s circumstance as a woman and a Nigerian citizen of South Eastern extraction, and that the Army was still investigating and was determined to ensure her release from terrorists posing as IPOB/ESN.
More disheartening is the council boss of the Sole Administrator of Ideato North LGA, in Imo State, Mr. Chris Ohizu, who was killed on Sunday 22 January 2023, after ransom was paid to the kidnappers to secure his release.
It is pertinent to recall that the current situation in Nigeria could be likened to an inferno drawing the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the local and the international community to itself. Hardly a day passes in Nigeria without kidnapping incidents making the headlines.
WHY KIDNAPPING IS ON THE UPSWING IN NIGERIA
The drivers of kidnapping risk in Nigeria today include the upsurge in organised armed violence by non-state actors, the increasing trend of ritual criminality, the economics of ransom, and criminal opportunism.
The opportunity and incentive for committing a crime is far greater than its risks or hazards. In Nigeria, only a few criminals are ever arrested and prosecuted.
The capacity of the state agencies to detect and deter crime is abysmal. In most instances, state security operatives fail to respond to occasions of kidnapping promptly and rapidly.
They also lack the technical ability to track kidnappers and their movements. Consequently, criminals carry on with impunity.
Kidnapping in Nigeria has become a matter of national emergency, and ought to be treated as such.
The public should be vigilant and reduce their vulnerability. But government must rise to its first and prime calling - protecting the security of lives and property. The government should be proactive and decisive in fighting kidnapping.
EXPERTS RECOMMENDS SOLUTION
> The remote areas of Nigeria where some of these crimes occur should be “governed” through a pragmatic community policing strategy.
> Deterrence should be stronger, stiffer and more decisive – such as the death penalty. The existing punishment of ten years (maximum) is not a deterrent.
> Payment of kidnap ransom should be discouraged, and possibly criminalised, to remove the incentive to kidnap people. The example of the United States, where all forms of ransom-related transactions are outlawed, is instructive.
> Security forces should be provided with sophisticated modern arms and armouries, which would help them to carryout their task effectively.
> There is need to install many check points: Stop and investigate points would help in fishing out erring drivers that deliver travellers to kidnappers (whom in return end up owning the cars they are driving).
> More troops need to be deployed: Joint work by military, police and local vigilantes is pertinent as one hand could not lift a roof. They should collaborate and work assiduously with one another to end incessant kidnappings.
> Government should ensure that all commodity entries to bandits are closed: Hunger and thirst know nobody, inaccessibility to foods or water by bandits would make them feeble and when security strike they could be easily defeated.
> Arrested kidnappers must be indepthly investigated, getting more information on them are key to destroy them. Killing kidnappers without knowing their sponsors or informers living in cities is like killing a snake without cutting off its head.
> During raids, there is paramount need to lay siege at all escape routes, surrendered kidnappers should be disarmed and arrested. Anyone that try to run or fire at forces should be immediately eliminated.
> Kidnapped victims that escaped and willing to help security force should be welcomed, some of such them could easily identify ways to kidnappers’ dens and their services are important.
> People in surrounding communities where kidnapping frequently occur should be encouraged to report suspicious activities or persons around them, their identities should remain unknown and they need to be protected if criminals start threatening them.
> Arrested bandits that are found guilty in the courts of law should be decisively dealt with (life imprisonment or hanging), this would serve as deterrent to their fellows that are still in the act.
> After bombarding kidnappers’ hideouts, infantry soldiers need to go after those that try to scamper for safety and clear them.