By Adamu Farida Isa
In Nigeria, it is safe to say that kidnapping has grown into a flourishing multi-billion naira industry where kidnappers, often labeled ‘bandits,’ are increasing by the day and claiming wider territories.
Nigeria is now among the countries with the highest rate of kidnap-for-ransom cases. Other countries high up on the list include Venezuela, Mexico, Yemen, Syria, the Philippines, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. These are largely failed states and it is a big shame that Nigeria finds itself in this very wrong company.
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According to a report conducted by SBM Intelligence titled: ‘The Economics of Nigeria’s Kidnap Industry’, which captured a period of one year – from July 2021 to June 2022 – over 500 incidents of kidnapping were said to have been recorded with no fewer than 3,420 Nigerians and some foreign citizens abducted across the country. This is even without the addition of unreported cases that are still unknown due to the poor quality of data and documentation in the country.
The report added that about N653.7 million was paid by Nigerians to free victims of kidnapping and abduction from July 2021 to June 2022. In July 2022 alone, eight Nigerian abducted persons exchanged N800 million for their lives while a kidnapped Pakistani national handed over the sum of N200 million to kidnappers as ransom.
It is essential to realise that paying ransom to these devilish terror groups turns their crime into a fruitful business. The possibility of kidnapping has now become a threat to us all in Nigeria because kidnappers are paid and are hardly ever arrested and made to face the wrath of the law.
Continuous payment of ransom is an incentive that boosts more kidnap incidents and encourages other criminal groups to take to the lucrative trade.
Nowhere in Nigeria is safe now. Nobody can move freely or travel from one place to another without the fear of being attacked or kidnapped, and this is alarming and unsettling.
These ‘businessmen’ are having the best time of their lives in Nigeria because the government has failed to stay true to its promise and constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and property.
Are the kidnappers and bandits terrorising Nigeria more powerful than the Nigerian government? Why then does it seem like the present government lacks the political will to deal decisively with the perpetrators of kidnapping and banditry and put an end to the menace?
The government and security agencies, who everybody looks up to, to address the issue, have also failed to come up with a plan to totally eradicate the kidnappers, aside from occasional strikes on the kidnappers’ dens, which are neither far-reaching nor sustained.
There are even allegations of connivance with kidnappers by highly placed people in authority and security agencies. That is why the first place any serious government should have started is to weed out the bad eggs in the security services. Nigerians can testify to the fact that majority of our security men and women are patriots who are toiling day and night to protect us while putting their own lives on the line. But with the insider traitors giving information to criminals and aiding them, how can the fight against insecurity succeed?
If not for connivance, how come our security agencies are not able to pinpoint the exact location of these criminals and use technology to launch precision attacks and save our people from their den? It is beyond belief that bandits will kidnap victims and hold them hostage for months and even have the audacity to show video clips of how the kidnapped people are being tortured. If the Nigerian government does not find this embarrassing enough, then nothing can ever be shameful!
Ordinarily, Nigeria should never have gotten to this level. Kidnapping activities persist because the benefit that the kidnappers derive from their crimes exceeds the cost and the risks. So, the obvious solution is to get these criminals to face the cost of their actions. The federal government should urgently identify, dismiss and punish the bad eggs, that is, the highly placed officers who are conspiring with kidnappers and other criminal gangs in unleashing terror on hapless Nigerians.
Bandits and their backers need to be adequately punished by the government in order to remove incentives for future attacks and to demonstrate that criminality doesn’t pay.
Section 14 (2b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, says the security and welfare of the people is the primary business of government. Government must therefore stop paying lip service to this issue and do the needful.
God bless Nigeria.
Adamu Farida is a Mass Communication student at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.
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