Kidnapping in the country has been on the rise in the last five months compared to what was recorded between January-May this year, findings by Daily Trust Saturday have shown.
The recent spate of kidnapping across states confirms that the security architecture of the country is still far from formidable to tackle the menace.
Although the authorities did not comment on the matter as of the time of filing this report, Daily Trust Saturday recalls that an unspecified number of students of the Federal University, Gusau, Zamfara State, were abducted from three off-campus hostels in the early hours of September 22 by bandits.
Security agencies later secured the release of some of the students. But the fate of the remaining students is yet to be established as the police and the school authority have not given an update.
Another four female students of the Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), were reportedly abducted on October night in Keffi, the headquarters of Keffi Local Government Area of the state.
Data obtained by Daily Trust Saturday shows that 1,158 people were reportedly kidnapped between June and October 9. This is higher than the 1,065 people kidnapped from January to May under the reign of former President Muhammadu Buhari.
On a month-by-month basis, the breakdown of reported kidnapped victims shows that September recorded the highest number of kidnappings with 498, closely followed by August and June with 213 and 178 kidnapped persons respectively.
Also, July recorded 176 kidnapped persons. As at October 9, the number of reported kidnapped persons in the month is 93.
The data indicated that between June and October, Kaduna recorded the highest number of kidnapped victims with 162, and is closely followed by Zamfara, 133 and Taraba, 126. Others are Niger, 119, Bauchi, 82, Borno, 75 and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), 64.
Zone-by-zone analysis shows that the North Central reported 64 cases under Tunubu, compared with 62 under Buhari, the North West witnessed 51 cases under Tinubu, against 38 under Buhari, while the North East has recorded 22 under Tinubu, compared with 8 under Buhari.
Further analysis shows that the South West has recorded 20 reported cases under Tinubu, compared with 21 under Buhari; South South witnessed 23 reported cases under Tinubu against 24 under Buhari, while the South East recorded 14 reported cases under Tinubu, compared with 19 under Buhari.
North Central comprises FCT, Nasarawa, Kwara, Kogi, Niger, Benue and Plateau states. North West has Kano, Kaduna, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states. North East is made up of Adamawa, Gombe, Borno, Yobe, Bauchi and Taraba states. The South West comprises Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Ondo, Oyo and Ekiti states.
The states in the South South are Akwa Ibom, Cross Rivers, Bayelsa, Edo, Delta and Rivers. In the South East are Anambra, Imo, Enugu, Ebonyi and Abia states.
Only Abia and Yobe states have no reported cases of kidnapping this year.
Manifesto on tackling insecurity far from reality
Daily Trust Saturday recalls that Tinubu, the then presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), on October 20, 2022 released an 80-page policy document that highlights an eight-point agenda.
Top on his priority lists of action plans were national security, economy, agriculture, power, oil and gas, transportation and education.
The 80-page document, containing multi-sectoral policy options, was tagged, “Renewed Hope 2023 – Action Plan for a Better Nigeria.”
He also promised to recruit 750,000 personnel into the military and increase the police force to one million personnel.
On plans against insecurity, Tinubu said, “We shall continue the fight against insecurity by redefining our counter-insurgency doctrine and practice. Our response to terror, kidnapping and violent criminality will be defined by the following elements. We shall enlist more people in the armed forces, security services and the police; our forces will be given better tactical communications, mobility as well as improved aerial and ground surveillance capacity.
“Through these and other measures, we shall better identify, monitor, track and defeat these evil groups where they are. They shall have no respite until they surrender or are utterly defeated.”
Similarly, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa and Chief of Army Staff, Major-General Taoreed Lagbaja, while appearing for screening at the National Assembly, promised Nigerians that under their watch, the military would be transformed into a well-trained, equipped and highly motivated force.
They affirmed that the Armed Forces of Nigeria would defend the country’s territorial integrity and democracy and safeguard internal security and unity, thus guaranteeing sustainable national development.
Musa said the armed forces would put Nigerians at the centre of its actions, with a view to promoting and safeguarding a secure environment for all.
He said, “Servicemen and women of the armed forces should be reassured of my commitment to their welfare, provision of relevant operational equipment, as well as infrastructural development within available resources to enable them to succeed in assigned constitutional roles.
“I shall also promote international military cooperation/collaboration to further expose and provide capacity building to personnel in joint and combined operations outside the shores of Nigeria. This measure is required to consolidate welfare priorities to effectively deploy, fight and win our country’s wars by providing ready, prompt and sustained land, sea and air dominance across traditional, as well as asymmetric conflict settings as part of a joint force.”
However, Nigerians are yet to see evidence of the promises by the service chiefs and the president by extension as the security situation in the country keeps getting worse.
Ex-police commissioner proffers solutions
In an interview with one of our correspondents, a former commissioner of police in the FCT, Lawrence Alobi, blamed the rising rate of kidnapping on the non-proactiveness of the National Orientation Agency (NOA).
The retired senior police officer described the NOA, a federal government agency saddled with the responsibility of making people aware of how they could contribute to the orderliness of their society, as “non-functional.”
According to him, a section of the constitution of the country provides an avenue for agency to always orientate and sensitise the citizens and community members about the roles they must play for a better society.
“Mentorship is lacking now in the Nigeria Police Force. Some of these officers need to be mentored. Government has roles to play. The National Orientation Agency is no longer functional.
“A section of the constitution of the land states that for a citizen to continue to be a Nigerian, he or she must assist the government in maintaining law and order.
“As at now, nobody knows their obligation to the society. Everybody wants to be parasitic; they don’t want to give. The culture of sacrificing to make our society better is dying,” he told Daily Trust Saturday during the interview.
Alobi also counseled all the security agencies to work together, with a view to achieving the same set goals of a better society, stressing that there should be no competition and rivalry among security agencies.
He said, “In addition, security agencies should work together. There should be no competition and rivalry among security agencies. They should collaborate and work for the same country and government.”
Narrating why kidnapping cases were elusive while he was in the force, he said, “In security operations, you have to be proactive. You have to think, plan, work ahead and think out of the box.
“I was very close to the community. I worked with the people and the people would always work with me. Policing is not just to enforce the law. You have to do community engagements.
“Policing is about how close the operatives are to people. How close are you to the people? When I was commissioner of police in the FCT, I did tell my officers that the same way you could police your brothers and sisters in your village should be how you would police in Abuja.
“I also gave them (officers) instructions to the effect that there should be no abuse of human rights. I applied policing emotional intelligence because there is what we call emotional intelligence in policing.
“The truth is that you should make an office to be what it ought to be. You have to be creative. Also, it is important for officers to do policing job with passion.
“There are ways all these cases can be tackled. The first is to empower the police. Secondly, carry out intensive capacity building programmes for all of them across boards because an untrained policeman is a threat to the society and the institution.”
NOA, ONSA reaction
When contacted on Friday, the spokesman of the National Orientation Agency, Paul Odenyi, said he “could not speak on any case for now” because of the recent reshuffling in the agency.
Our correspondent reports that President Tinubu on Thursday sacked all heads of agencies under the federal ministry of information including the Director-General of the NOA, Garba Abari.
Odenyi, therefore, explained that he would need to seek permission from helmsman of the agency before he could make any comment, saying the new DG was yet to report for duty.
“We have a new DG, our DG just left, they removed our DG yesterday. The new DG hasn’t reported, I would need to go and take permission before I say anything,” Odenyi told Daily Trust Saturday in a telephone conversation.
Similarly, the Head of Strategic Communications in the Office of the National Security Adviser, Zakari Usman, directed one of our correspondents to message him via WhatsApp about the enquiry.
He was yet to reply to Daily Trust Saturday’s enquiry about the efforts being made by the office to stem the trend as at when filing this report yesterday.