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EDITORIAL: For a total war on kidnapping

Something definitely needs to give in now, otherwise, the growing incidence of kidnapping of innocent persons by unscrupulous elements across the country looks good at getting out of hands in no distant time. We hold this position because hardly any day passes without one infamous report or another of hostage-taking of innocent people in one part of the country or another. A very disturbing report recently that about eight people, mostly women and children, were kidnapped within Abuja metropolis is enough to jolt all Nigerians, not least the government, from illusions into stark realities. Just recently, a Lagos-bound bus from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was shortly after departure, waylaid somewhere at Emuoha town in the state and fourteen of the vehicle’s occupants were forcefully taken into captivity by some unscrupulous persons who proceeded to ask for huge ransom of money before the release of the kidnapped persons. In Lagos State, the ugly incidence of hostage-taking of students from their school premises, particularly in the Ikorodu axis of the state became so rampant that many parents and guardians began contemplating withdrawing and relocating their children and wards from schools in the state.

Before the notorious Lagos-based kidnapper, Evans was eventually nabbed by the police, there were countless high profile kidnap operations associated with him and his ilks, particularly in the FESTAC area of Lagos State that ignited panic in the psyche of many residents there, leading to mass relocation from the place. Somewhere else in the northern part of the country, it took concerted public outcry and complain before the police high command moved in full force against the menacing activities of kidnappers on the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway. But for the deployment of a police Deputy Inspector General to be in charge of operations on the Abuja-Kaduna road by the former Inspector General of Police, Idris Abubakar the kidnapping on that axis was getting embarrassingly out of hands. From Borno to Sokoto and from Lagos to Enugu, the story of kidnappers running wild and being on the loose remains the same.

Aside from instilling socio-psychological fears on their victims and their relations, the act of kidnapping engenders a general atmosphere of insecurity in the citizens. And for foreigners and foreign investors, nothing could be more traumatizing and thus more discouraging to invest in Nigeria. Unfortunately, kidnapping has continued to thrive in the country despite spirited efforts by the police and other security agencies to nip the act in the bud. No doubt, it is all in a bid to restore sanity and put a stop to the menacing activities of kidnappers that a number of states have put in motions, legislations and laws to halt the ugly incidence. On the last count, States like Delta, Anambra, Rivers, Lagos, Edo, Abia, Imo and a host of others, have legislated capital punishment for kidnappers, yet this has refused to discourage the heinous practice. Rather than using the death penalty to stop kidnapping, the governor’s should think out of the box by ensuring prudent management of resources and generating mass employment that would cater for the economic survival of our teeming youths.

Again, we at TheNigerian reiterate that something must be made to snap urgently for the situation to come under serious control. Given that the primary responsibility of every Government is to protect the lives and properties of its citizens, this is why we feel that the role of Government becomes very critical in nipping this crime in the bud. In calling for the declaration of a state of emergency against kidnapping, we insist that the Government must act decisively to arrest the incidence of the proliferation of small arms and ammunition in the country. It is our strong conviction that easy access to these dangerous weapons by miscreants goes a long way in emboldening their confidence to continue to perpetuate this heinous crime. Also, aside from appealing to the National Assembly to come up with uniform legislation, preferably one that will make kidnapping attract capital punishment, proper machinery must be put in place to ensure prompt implementation of the laws so legislated. Whereas the Buhari administration has done everything humanly possible to arrest the cascading menace of kidnapping, the state governors, who by law are the chief security officers of their respective states, should do more to help in putting a stop to this dangerous development.

We believe that why some of the State laws against kidnapping, like capital punishment,have remained ineffective is that the Governors lack the necessary political will to give effect to the court judgments condemning offenders to death. The new legislation we are proposing must contain some ingredients that will ensure the implementation of the judicial verdict without necessary recourse to the States Chief Executive Officers for its full implementation. Our demand for the declaration of a state of emergency on kidnapping is in addition, hinged on the proper funding and equipping of the police by the Government to enable the force to contain with the challenges posed by the hardened criminals. This has to be done side by side with the sensitization of the citizens to key into the global concept of community policing, knowing full well that the kidnappers are no ghosts or strangers to the communities. Finally, it is our strong belief that all hands must be on deck: the families, schools, churches, mosques, the security agencies, Government and other social institutions working together, for the battle to curb the menacing impact of kidnapping to be achieved. Nigeria must be made governable by law.

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