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‘To check kidnapping, Governor Akpabio has acquired 11 gunboats

Under what circumstances did the Akwa Ibom State government decide to pass the law on kidnapping?   With the escalating incidences of militancy and kidnapping in…

Under what circumstances did the Akwa Ibom State government decide to pass the law on kidnapping?  
With the escalating incidences of militancy and kidnapping in our neighbouring states, there had been cases of spill over into Akwa Ibom State in recent times. It got worse when commercial motor-cyclists were banned from operation in some of those states. The consequence was that crime rate increased, with many of the former bikers taking to kidnapping and sometimes straying into Akwa Ibom State. Though Gov. Godswill Akpabio had in a pre-emptive move established a Joint Task Force code-named: “Operation Aduma” to wedge the criminals, there was still need to have a law that would deter many others from taking to kidnapping as a means of livelihood.
Governor Akpabio’s argument is that kidnapping involves methods and traumatising impacts akin to armed robbery. Unfortunately, however, the existing laws on kidnapping seem too weak or lenient that armed robbers, apparently to avoid the heavy weight of the law which is a maximum of a death sentence, have now migrated in droves into taking kidnapping as a profession.
Hence, Governor Akpabio decided to propose the Anti-Kidnapping Bill to the State House of Assembly, hoping that with the maximum consequence of a death penalty, kidnappers would think twice before straying into Akwa Ibom for the purpose of kidnapping.
How many incidents of kidnappings come to mind and how were they resolved?  
Like I said earlier, there have been a few incidents of kidnapping in Akwa Ibom, though the state still remains one of the safest and most peaceful in the Niger Delta region. However, the ones that readily come to mind include those that involved a former speaker of the State House of Assembly, Nelson Effiong; the daughter of preacher Abel Damina; staff of Stemco and Julius Berger construction companies and the chairman of Essien Udim local government et cetera. One of the most recent was the kidnap and unfortunate murder of the daughter of Abak council chairman. However, for the ones earlier mentioned, the security agencies have evolved commendable strategies that have enabled them to divide the state into zones for the purpose of prompt and rapid action. They also work hand-in-hand with the communities. Hence, any time there is a case of kidnapping, they know who to reach out to for the relevant information that would help them resolve the case. In some cases, the victims are rescued within 24 hours of their abduction.
Solving cases of kidnapping has also been made easier by the various policies put in place by the Governor Akpabio-led administration. For instance, a reward system, which includes at least N1million in cash, has been instituted for informants who help track down the criminals. There are dedicated lines at the governor’s office for any information that could lead to the smashing of any ring of criminals.
Moreover, community elders and traditional fathers have been both motivated and empowered to check the activities of people in their domains. They are then to report any suspected criminal to the security agencies. Any of them who fail to do so risks dethronement. The village head of Nturukpum in Uruan local government area, Chief Effiong Bassey Udo was dethroned recently when a gang of kidnappers were caught with a lady they had abducted.
How did the people of the state receive the law?  
Akwa Ibom people have been overjoyed that another determined effort has been put in place to wedge and rake out criminality, particularly kidnapping in the state. In churches and in social gatherings it has been all praises for Governor Akpabio for his uncommon will and commitment to confront the kidnappers.
Are there people who have been nabbed for kidnapping, perhaps, being held in prison custody or by the police?
So far, about 50 suspected kidnappers have been arrested and are helping the police in their investigations. Many of them, before the advent of the Anti-kidnapping Law, were being tried for armed robbery, since the operation of kidnapping also has elements of armed robbery.  
What other initiatives has the state taken to curb kidnapping and other criminal activities? 
To further ensure that Akwa Ibom remains one of the safest states in the country, Governor Akpabio has just taken delivery of about 11 gunboats. Three of them are stationed in Ibeno; while others are positioned in the Ikot Abasi, Oron, and Eastern Obolo axis. The idea is to police the waters as a way of checking infiltration into the state by kidnappers, from the sea. Beyond protecting the expatriate population working in the oil companies in those areas, the boats, manned by a combined team of security agencies, though dominated by the Navy, provide security for fishermen to

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