One of the biggest problems in this country our inability to acknowledge our failings which would then allow for proper reflection in order to ensure the same mistakes will not be repeated in future.
This failing cuts across all areas afflicting both government and the private sectors and often leads to devastating consequences. For instance, some time ago in a piece titled: “Kidnapping, the latest ‘big business’ in town!” published on February 26, 2019, I tried to point out how the failure of police to tell the nation the actual truth, when it comes to the resolution of kidnap cases has played a major part in the proliferation of those and other dastardly acts across the country.
Sadly, a very recent incident has once again highlighted the fact that the police (like most of us), are not ready to change the narrative, when it comes to certain issues including kidnapping. Towards the end of last month, on December 26, to be precise, Chairman of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) Kaduna chapter, Apostle Emmanuel Egoh Bako, and his wife Cindy, were kidnapped by gunmen along the Afana-Fadan Kagoma-Kwo road in Kafanchan, Jema’a Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
Forty-eight hours later, they were released with the police once again claiming credit for the cheering news. Unfortunately for them, the firebrand cleric was to blow this claim to smithereens in an interview he granted SaharaReporters where he said: “A ransom of N4.5 million was paid for my wife and me. It was not the police that rescued us; even the kidnappers said the police would start lying that they rescued us, there were no police.
“We were far gone before the police came, they just stopped at my house; they didn’t even go beyond the fence of my house. Up till this moment, no police have called me, so how can the police say they rescued us? “They couldn’t even trace us. Even soldiers couldn’t have located us, the terrain is too harsh, they can only locate us with the use of technology, no police showed up. God just brought us out.”
Speaking further he said: “I am reachable, I’m accessible, the police should have called me or come to my house. Since they came the day I was kidnapped, they’ve not come back to check on my children or the situation.
“They just sit in their office and make statements. It angers the people because people know the truth. The government should try to get information from the grassroots and not just sit in the office and draft imaginary statements because the people who go through the experience know what happened and when they hear something different, it angers them.” Bako said the ransom was paid by concerned individuals who were sympathetic enough about securing his release.
“These individuals were not even members of my church but people I had impacted their lives at one point or the other. The kidnappers initially demanded a ransom of N20 million. Then they brought it down to N15 million, then N10 million, and then N7 million then. Eventually they put it at N4.5 million.
It was paid in cash,” Bako said. “The person that brought it came with the cash and came face to face with the kidnappers, unlike other cases that they will ask the person to drop the money somewhere. We came out with them from the bush.
The man that came with the money came face to face with them, handed over the money to them and they released us to him, (they) waved us goodbye and we parted.” Despondently, this latest expose is not expected to get the police to shift and change their narrative, which from all indications appears to have been cast in stone.
Their latest claim is coming three years after one of the nation’s most notorious kidnappers, Chukwudidumeme Onuamadik , more popularly known as ‘Evans’, told the whole world how he became a multimillionaire courtesy of the proceeds he got from his criminal activities. And yet, before he was caught, many of the victims he had released after collecting ransom, police had often claimed credit for securing their “release” without ever acknowledging that money had been paid. Of course, while it is only natural for people and agencies to embellish themselves in order to look good before their superiors and members of the public, it is also important that it is not taken too far because eventually the truth will come out with devastating consequences for those involved in the PR stunt.
Incidentally, while even more advanced nations often claim that that they do not pay ransom for the release of their snatched citizens, it is also common knowledge that they do “deals” with the abductors especially when they have no firm intelligence on the whereabouts of their kidnapped citizen which would have allowed for a rescue operation be carried out. Thus, such countries like Austria, Canada, France, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland are willing to make financial deals with hostage takers.
Even the mighty United States, which publically insists that it does not deal with kidnappers, does have exceptions to this rule. For instance, America negotiates if the hostage is a soldier. Captured Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was exchanged for five members of the Taliban, released from Guantanamo in 2014.
The United States also permits paying ransom as long as the hostage taker has not been designated as a foreign terrorist organisation. But then, this is a last resort and more often than not ‘Uncle Sam’ carries out special operations like they did with devastating effect last year when US Special Forces stormed a village in Borno State to free Philip Walton, who had been abducted in neighbouring Niger before being brought into Nigeria.
In carrying out the October 31, 2020 rescue the US Special Forces took out six of the bandits in a clear message to other would be hostage takers of the fate that would befall them if they persisted in kidnapping Americans. Our constant failure to acknowledge our own setbacks means that we cannot learnt from them in order to properly plan against future occurrences. But then, the police are not the only government agency culpable, as on an almost daily basis, we are regaled with tales of how our gallant men and women in uniform have decimated the Boko Haram and yet the insurgency has stubbornly refused to go away.
Just as we read of successful operations carried out by the military, we also read of more dastardly actions by the insurgents and other anti-social elements leaving sorrow, tears and blood in their wake Even our political leadership has caught the denial bug declaring that Boko Haram has been “technically defeated”! Despondently five years after this pronouncement was made, the body bags of both our military and civilian population continue to pile up.
Consequently, until we accept that our failings are not a sign of weakness, but are normal human frailties and seek help from more experienced sources or agencies, then we will continue to grope in the dark when it comes to ending the many woes afflicting the nation!