The Senate is considering a bill that seeks to prohibit the payment and receipt of ransom for the release of any person kidnapped, imprisoned or wrongfully confined. The bill comes under Terrorism Prevention Act, which scaled the second reading. If the bill is passed into law, the offenders will be liable to 15 years in jail.
Paying ransom to kidnappers is absolutely bad but the humanity in us will not allow leaving our loved ones in the hands of these criminal armed groups.
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Nigerians are paying the ransom because they have seemingly lost hope in our security operatives whom they sometimes see as collaborators and informants to the kidnappers and other armed groups engaged in the business. As I am writing this piece, a sitting judge of Sharia court in Katsina was abducted in broad daylight during court proceedings. The security agencies blamed the judge for going to that community.
On the other hand, paying a ransom is motivating many to join the business since it involves millions of naira but the failure of the government to arrest the issue of insecurity is the worst.
Government first encouraged ransom paying when it was said to have paid ransom for the release of some abducted Chibok girls.
There was also an allegation of paying ransom for the release of the abducted students of Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, although this was denied.
My submission is that it is too early for them to come up with this law without putting the necessary things in place. We need to thoroughly investigate the reasons behind our youths joining this criminality.
There is a need for government’s presence in all nooks and crannies of our nation. Security experts and analysts have warned of abandoned ungovernable spaces especially in the core northern part of the country.
Economic hardship, unemployment and climate change have also pushed many young people to join either kidnapping gangs or criminal armed groups available in the region.
Instead of 15 years of imprisonment as being canvassed by our lawmakers, the government must come up with economic policies that will provide opportunities to the teeming population. Good governance remains the most important key.
Idris Mohammed lives in Funtua