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Kidnapping: Northern governors, lawmakers must rise to the challenge – Rep Ningi

What do you say about the recent trend that is coming up in the north, the incessant kidnapping of people for ransom?Well, it is a…

What do you say about the recent trend that is coming up in the north, the incessant kidnapping of people for ransom?
Well, it is a trend that is highly disturbing. This part of the country, if you recall in the early 1970s, the issue of armed robbery was not here. The issue of exam malpractices was not there.  But because we are all living in a global village, it is regrettable that our culture of brotherhood, togetherness and hospitality in the north has taken a back seat. In the north, hitherto, you cannot be able to experiment or exploit the situation in this part of the country without you being given up.
You cannot be an armed robber in this part of the country for one month without people taking the law into their hands or giving you up to the security agencies. But because armed robbery and other malpractices have taken the front burner, and people do it and get away with it, people no longer see it as anything but normal. And kidnapping is the easiest of these terrible vices. It is easier than exam malpractices and armed robbery.
Even in the Niger Delta, kidnapping is an entirely new phenomenon until the early 2005 when they tested it and people were ready to give anything for their loved ones, which is natural. We hear that when families of kidnapped victims went to the security agencies, the security agencies asked them to comply with the kidnappers’ demand. When we dig deep down, we find the hands of the security agencies in the vices,  and now we find out that people  no longer have the confidence to report such vices  to the police, to the State  Security Services because they know they are reporting to the wrong agencies. If, eventually, those who committed the crimes are apprehended, what happens to them?
They go scot free; all they have to do is to dole out money and then they are freed. This issue of kidnapping is a very serious concern, more so, in the northern part of the country. Kidnapping will claim a lot of innocent victims and that is my fear. The buck stops at the government level; the leadership of this country, both the executive and the legislature must rise up to the occasion. The security issue in this country is very terrible and until we get this issue right, no other thing will come out right. l believe we must do everything within our constitutional jurisdiction to get it right, and as a matter of fact, any government that fails to provide security for its citizens should be considered as a failure whether it is at the federal, state or local government levels.
A Canadian woman was kidnapped in Kaduna in broad day light and just last week, a PHCN director was kidnapped in Abuja. Do you think Abuja is safe enough?
 It is a sad story. I thought Abuja, because of its unique position as the seat of governance ,should have been the most secured, where people can do whatever they want to do 24 hours a day. It is unfortunate that that kidnapping in Kaduna took place. It is unfortunate that the Abuja kidnapping also took place, but like l said earlier, fundamentally things are wrong. The police are incapacitated. They don’t have the training, they don’t have the capacity and they don’t have the wherewithal to detect some of these crimes.
Most of the budgetary provisions for the police are inadequate and they are never streamlined in a way for continuity. That has been the problem of the Nigerian police. There is no vision as to where we are going, what we want to achieve and how we are going to achieve set objectives. People are no longer interested in doing the job because more often that not, you see policemen sleeping on the floor at the police station.
They are posted from all over the country and when they get here, nobody gives them accommodation. Nobody cares about their transport; nobody cares about their uniform and a lot of other things. And by their training, they are not supposed to complain or go on strike. By law, the government should make provision for their welfare. Where their welfare is not taken into consideration, you don’t expect a police man carrying a double barrelled gun to face an armed robber welding a Kalashnikov rifle. The question is how do these weapons get into this country? These arms being paraded by robbers are brought into Nigeria by Nigerians and are cleared by Nigerians at the various entry points.
Go to the Ghanaian capital, Accra, people move about 24 hours a day. You won’t see a policeman stopping you. Robbers won’t stop you. So, what does it take for us to achieve what these people have achieved?  We have to make a difference and until the government funds the police, and the police change their orientation about making money, things will never go well.
In Rivers State, kidnapping is a criminal offence and offenders, when caught, will face the death sentenced. Do you subscribe to this kind of capital punishment for kidnappers?
Ordinarily, one will not subscribe to this type of punishment but because the crime is trying to take a national dimension, whereby citizens and foreigners are afraid to go about their normal business, l am fully in support of what the Rivers State government is doing. The intention of the Rivers State government is good; it is forward-looking but they should also make sure that they get involved in the prosecution of offenders.