Since the country erupted in insecurity volcano a couple of years ago, kidnapping stands out among all other insecurity incidents that have been plaguing the country. The number of lives so far lost to the crime since it became a trend and thriving business for the criminals is left to be imagined. Kidnap incidents have become a recurring decimal in the country with attendant payment of ransoms to secure the release of victims from their abductors’ captivity Daily Trust reports.
Kidnap victims are always between the devil and a deep blue sea, especially when a ransom had been slammed by their abductors and negotiations are ongoing to secure their release. If the ransom is not paid, they would remain in captivity and underlying trauma until life is snuffed out of them or they are luckily released. The need to avoid this tribulation compels payment. On the other hand, the payment of ransom encourages kidnappers to keep running their ‘business,’ making the crime to keep thriving.
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In recent time, schools have become the target of the abductors. In April, about 23 students of Green Field University, Kaduna were kidnapped by bandits. While some parents paid N55m naira to secure their children’s release after the abductors had demanded N800m, others paid N180m and also bought 10 motorcycles for the bandits before their children were freed. Initially, three of the students were killed, while two were later killed. Last Thursday, bandits numbering over 150 broke into Federal Government College (FGC) Birnin Yauri and abducted some students. Report said that at least 80 of the bandits had been killed by security forces in a gun duel in an effort to secure the release of the students, while three students- two female and a male- were killed in the encounter. Last week, bandits also stormed Federal Government, Birnin Yauri, Kebbi and abducted some selected students.
Government officials as well as scores of citizens who air their voices on ransom with Daily Trust on Sunday have passed their verdict that it is not the way out of the menace but proactive measures to discourage and win the battle against it.
President Muhammadu Buhari
Ransom payments will continue to prosper kidnapping.
I mean it and I will say it again here. Even if my son is kidnapped, I will rather pray for him to make heaven instead, because I won’t pay any ransom.
Hajia Asia El-Rufai
For as long as you continue to pay ransom, it is like you are adding kerosene to fire. you are giving bandits, kidnappers money for ammunition to continue to haunt you. We should not pay ransom. This is my personal opinion.
Niger State Government
On the issue of ransom, the state government stands on no ransom but it has a means of negotiating with the bandits.
That position (on ransom) has been made by the government of Niger State. But whichever way, other modes of operation and negotiation are ongoing. So, let’s not put ransom as the main thing.
Chief Nduka Eya, former Secretary-General of Ohaneze Ndigbo
Our unemployed youths are also turning out to kidnapping to get money (ransom) as a survival strategy. The continuous payment of ransom must not be encouraged.
Senator Ezenwa Onyewuchi representing Imo West Senatorial Zone
Once you pay ransom to a bandit, you are encouraging him to go for more people and make more money.
Miss Godson, lawyer
Once those criminals realize that nobody is paying anymore, they will stop
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
Government must develop means to deal with kidnappers and bandits heavily in place of ransom payment.
Ransom encourages criminals to indulge in the act.
Dr Mustapha Inuwa, Katsina State SSG
Once ransom will continue to be paid, these people will find it very difficult to stop their crime, because in a situation where you kidnap somebody and receive millions of naira, tell me what business will they do to earn this money within a week or so? Other countries stopped kidnappings by refusing to pay ransom, but anybody killed in the process, government paid compensation to the family. People now connive to kidnap their relations, associates and neighbours simply because of what they will get from the ransom collected. Kidnapping has become lucrative. We must stop it by not paying ransom.
Pastor Yakubu Pam- Executive Secretary, Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC)
The issue of paying ransom to kidnappers will not solve this problem. What will solve this problem is our intelligence. People are being cheated because of lack of information. When we have information of whom these bad people are, I think Nigeria will solve the problem. If we are very sincere in bringing them out even if it is my son, let him face the wrath of the law. I think that will be very important in solving these problems.
Bola Bolawole, media consultant
Paying ransom to kidnappers is an incentive that keeps fuelling the illicit, illegal and criminal trade for many reasons. It keeps the criminals in business. It is more profitable than any normal business. So, the urge to do legitimate business recedes.
The rule is to let criminals know that they will be caught ultimately and punished and that they will lose all temporary advantages on the long run. Once criminals know that crime does not pay, you are on the way to eliminating it. But where they go scot-free, then, the society is imperilled.
The criminals have large sums of money to buy over and compromise law officers. So, the criminal gang festers, spreading even into normal society. In a poor society, they buy the loyalty of poor people to serve as informants and foot soldiers. Because of their new-found wealth and lifestyle, they become role models and more people are drawn into crime.
They have the means to procure sophisticated armoury better than those of the military. The savvy among them go into politics on the leverage of their illicit funds and capture power from inside. Increasingly, they build the status of non-state actors able to fight the state to a standstill. They can overthrow that state by first making it a failed state. Difficult and harrowing as it may seem, not allowing their blackmail is the preferred option of many state actors. But on the few occasions where the state bows to pressure, efforts are made afterwards to track down and punish the criminals.
Pastor Felix Nyerhovwo Jarikre, lead pastor, Healing Report Today.
Paying ransom can never be an acceptable or reasonable policy of government. To send a proper message to kidnappers, government should take a hardline stance against payment of ransom. Payment of ransom can never discourage kidnappers.
A governor cannot just sit down somewhere complacently and claim that he is against payment of ransom without deploying any security forces to rescue kidnapped victims.
Ori Martins, Managing Editor, Echo News
The concept of ransom payment to kidnappers is really disturbing. If ransom is not paid to kidnappers, the obnoxious business will die a natural death.
In any case, if a victim’s life is at risk, concerned people would come under pressure and compassion to pay and save the life.
For instance, if my mother, wife, son or any of my siblings is kidnapped or abducted and the hoodlums get across to me for ransom and I can meet up with their demand, I would be moved to pay quickly to rescue the victim; especially if appropriate security measures are in place and I am convinced that after payment, the culprits would be apprehended and brought to books.
Abiodun Komolafe, Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State
There are many questions – some, troubling – that we need to answer in order to appropriately situate our predicament as a country and people. First, will payment of ransom dissuade kidnappers from their criminal pursuits? I doubt, because the more ransom is paid, the more lucrative kidnapping as a business becomes! Will non-payment of it keep victims safe in their captors’ dens? For obvious reasons, I doubt. How effective have Nigeria’s security agencies been in protecting Nigerians?
Will the passage of the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Bill currently before the National Assembly which is seeking to criminalise ransom payment help in discouraging payment of ransom to kidnappers? I doubt? Before the criminalisation of ransom payment to kidnappers, how much of promise can we exact from our security agencies that, if and when the need arises, they have the capacity to rescue captives from their captors’ gulag? Again, who benefits from these despicable acts? The criminals, of course! Who loses? The victims, their families and hangers-on, and, ultimately, the society! Should this menace continue untamed? Will Nigeria survive it? I doubt!
In saner climes, how possible is it for more than 200 young, innocent students to be taken away from their schools and dormitories and kept in the forest for weeks without conscious efforts by the state to recover them? So, where lies the place and space of Nigeria’s intelligence agencies in all of these?
Already, Nigeria’s economy is haemorrhaging; and, its socio-political firmament, gone turbulent. In a country where crude oil exploration is no longer profitable and the country is seeking succour from agriculture, isn’t it disheartening that farmers can no longer go to their farms for the fear of being kidnapped? How is tourism, which has become the mainstay of some countries, thriving in our clime?
Without doubt, it is because the national government has not been hard on criminals that kidnapping and ransom payment have become lucrative in Nigeria. It is because it has not demonstrated the capacity to rid the country of crimes that Nigerians continue to nurse ‘wahala’ aplenty.
Truth be told: As long as governments across board are unable to effectively discharge their constitutionally-stipulated roles of protecting the lives and property of Nigerians, criminals will continue to thrive in their chosen trades and the country will ultimately be the worse for it!