OPINION

Kidnapping, a time bomb set to explode Nigeria

By Obinna Ucheagwu

Introduction

One of the major man’s inhumanity to man is kidnapping or stealing. In today’s world news, as you turn in your devices, Kidnapping is the common denominator of crime news. It seems now a norm that it is no longer a news.

Another word for kidnapping is abduction, child theft or snatching, trafficking etc. The Google search engine sees it as the “action of abducting someone and holding him or her captive”. Kidnapping is inclusive of denial of one’s right, abuses and molestation. The forceful hold on an innocent stranger from gaining access or movement could also likened as kidnapping.

Furthermore, other definition says that it is the unlawful transportation, exportation and confinement of a person against his/her will. In the global jurisprudence it is adjudged a criminal act and a breach of the tenets of the fundamental human right.

The punishment, for this crime varies from country to country, ranges from lengthy prison sentences to death sentences, in most cases the average sentence is five years.

The earliest cases of kidnapping in historical times

The history of kidnapping could be traced to Biblical times. (Exodus 21:4) “Kidnapping must be put to death”. (Deuteronomy 24:7) “If someone is caught kidnapping fellow Israelitetreating or selling them as a slave; the kidnapper must die” (Gen 14:10-16) “when Abram heard that his relative had been captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. etc.

From the over view, kidnapping is not a crime only common to this generation it has some biblical backing to be as old as creation.

Kidnapping gained a commercial status in the world in the 17th century during the industrial revolution, Young men, women and children were forcefully kidnapped from the remote parts of the globe, forcefully abducted and transported for servitude. This brought about the slave trade business boom.

Kidnapping has evolved into different dimensions: Political reasons, religious extremity, as a tool for vendetta, for huge ransom or economic benefits, etc.

The socio- political and economic effects

The effect of kidnapping to the socio- political and economic life of the global community especially Nigeria, is very devastating ,and the  worst victim is the educational system.

Rural urban migration has become a daily affair Rural dwellers migrate to safer haven causing a great strain on the economy.

Kidnappers are said to rely heavily on drugs and other associated vice like prostitution to be afloat. Thus it has a correlation with the increasing rise in illicit drug trade and prostitution, it has become lucrative.

Kidnapping has brought about displacement of the economic activities of people. Apart from loss of loved ones, places hitherto known for robust commercial activities  have now become hotbeds for  kidnnapers,  thus killing commerce.

The history of kidnapping in Nigeria

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In Nigeria, there had been cases of crime common as kidnapping in the historical establishment of the aboriginals, there were intertribal and tribal wars ,with people forcefully abducted. Till date, it is a common phenomenon, but it  became more rampart  during the military era of General  Sani Abacha.

In 2003, troops were sent to quell the tribal war between the Ijaws and Itsekiri militants over ownership of oil rigs in the Niger Delta, and about 207 soldiers and foreigners were in possession of  hard currencies which were lavished before the people of the Niger Delta.

The ostentatious lifestyle of the soldiers and foreigners  spurred a lot of youths, elite and security establishment to have soft spot for kidnapping in the Niger Delta region as the fastest lane to walk.

One of the most famous kidnapping in Nigeria in  recent times is the one championed by billionaire kidnap kingpin, Evans. He took  his ransom in foreign currencies.  From that moment,  kidnapping  spread across the Nigerian  landscape.

Anybody can be a victim, not just the wealthy or politicians.  People can be kidnapped for sultry amount of fifty thousand Naira. A worrisome  situation is people arranging their own kidnap  to extort money from their rich parents or relations. Kidnapping happens daily on  the highways, markets , schools, party balls etc.

Why are Nigerian schools target of kidnapping?

A worrisome dimension of kidnapping in Nigeria is the increasing rate at which kidnappers storm schools, especially in North-West, abduct and ferry innocent children, mostly girls without any  resistance  from  security forces.

Since December last year till date, over 600 students have been abducted from their schools, and  this  number doesn’t include the over hundreds kidnapped girls from Chibok and Dapchi communities. The easy access of these bandits into schools in large convoy of trucks, motorcycles, and cars suggest that the government and its security establishment have more answers to give than what the ordinary eyes can see. These schools are located within communities, motorable roads and some very close to military barracks, police check points  and houses of community leaders . How come they weren’t detected by intelligence systems  and  did they disappear into the thin air?  A large number of these youths couldn’t have been abducted without some possible alarm and resistance noticed during the action of their abductors and the trucks.

Why are some political leaders quick at championing amnesty for bandits by getting involved in negotiations with the criminals, even in their hideouts?  According to Fela of blessed memory, all these amount to “Government Magic”.

A social crusader Nduka Orjinmo and security expert Kemi Okenyodo believe that since  kidnappers  are often rewarded with cars and money and government involvement in negotiations running into millions of dollars,  presupposes that kidnapping has turned into  a booming business of the big boys at the corridors of power.

 Also President Muhamedu Buhari, who seems apparently  confused, has on so many occasions, insinuated that state governors from fueling the crises.

Conclusion

In summary, kidnapping is a time bomb, waiting to explode this nation. It has already rail loaded the much achieved increase in primary school enrolment in Northern Nigeria  when compared with the south

The level of illiteracy, poverty and diseases in the North will ever be pandemic if the scourge of kidnapping continues. Education remains the only choice left for the Northern leaders  to make positive impact in human capital development of that clime.

Nigeria government’s agencies, including securities should come clean and stop its ostrich posture. The evil that is working in your favour today may turnaround to hunt you in future.

The evil we allow or celebrate because it makes us wealthy will cause our cry and pain. What goes about comes around.

 

  • Ucheagwu Anselm Mary Obinna is a Director of Mater Amabilis Children School, Member 1982 world children conference on peace Sofia, Bulgaria.

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