New Telegraph

Kidnapping spree in Abuja has got to stop!

Evolving more like a heartrending and terrifying scene out of a midnight horror film, the recent spate of kidnapping in Abuja, the nation’s capital which should ordinarily symbolise peace and safety needs urgent action, beyond talking tough and spewing wishful words. That is more so, on the part of the President Bola Tinubu-led Federal Government and the Nyesom Wike-led team in charge of the affairs of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA). To drive home the level of the horrifying spectacle of the kidnapping, we place ourselves in the agonising shoes of all the abductees. In fact, we also feel the pains of their psychologically traumatised families. For instance, one Oladosu Ariyo, an Abuja-based legal practitioner recently sent a Save our Soul (SOS) message to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) crying out for help to save the precious and irreplaceable lives of his wife and his remaining three children. This distress call has come up after the heartless kidnappers killed his eldest child – a 13-year-old secondary school student. Their warped reason had to do with the delay in the payment of the ransom, as demanded by the kidnappers. It would be recalled that they reportedly abducted 10 people from the Sagwari Estate Layout at Dutse in Bwari Area Council of the FCT on January 7, 2024.

Initially they demanded N60 million per person but they increased it to N100 million per person, due to delay in payment. There was a report that the life of one of the abductees, Nabeeha Al-Kadriya was wantonly wasted! In spite of the assurance given by the Inspector General of Police, IGP Kayode Egbetokun that the Force has initiated a comprehensive plan to rescue the voiceless victims, some concerned residents of Sagwari Layout have reportedly come up with the plan for mass protest against the government for their perceived lukewarm attitude to the kidnapping spree. Coincidentally, Amnesty International (AI) is of a similar opinion that “the authorities are yet to show any tangible commitment to addressing the escalating breakdown of security across the country”. It has therefore called on the Tinubuheaded administration to treat rampant kidnapping as an emergency. Furthermore, it should take all lawful measures to end the cycle of violence. Good enough, it has reminded the government that under the International Human Rights Law and the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, as amended, authorities have the obligation to protect life and property. That is expressly enshrined in Section 14 Sub-Section 2 (b). But because successive administrations have failed, and woefully so to perform their mandates, AI has called for investigation into the waves of kidnapping and killings and bring the culprits to speedy justice. So do we. In fact, we are disturbed that despite the promise made by Tinubu, in his ‘Renewed Hope’ agenda then as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in February 2023 to prioritise security, actions have so far not matched words. For instance, between June and October, 2023, some 1,158 innocent citizens fell as helpless victims to kidnapping, with Kaduna, Zamfara and Nasarawa states topping the list.

Painfully too, defenceless students have suffered much in the haunting hands of the kidnappers. Students of the Federal University in Gusau, Zamfara State were at a point abducted off-campus, though some were later freed. There was another incident involving four female students of the Nasarawa State University, Keffi. And during the week previous to the abduction at the Sagwari Layout Estate 45 people traveling from Otukpo in Benue State to Enugu in Enugu State were kidnapped and so far nothing has come out of any rescue mission. Though the statement credited to the Force Public Relations Officer and Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Olumuyiwa Adejobi, hinted at the sensitivity of security information with discretion the police have not been proactive enough to clip the widening wings of the kidnapping kites. A situation that has concerned Nigerians coming up with crowdfunding to rescue those kidnapped and the former Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Prof. Ali Pantami, mobilising the sum of N50 million for the AlKadriya family should have been prevented. That is, if our security operatives are up to their onerous tasks to safeguard precious lives and valuable property. To do so, and for the sanctity of human life to be protected at all times, the police and other security operatives should undergo frequent and relevant training. They have to update their knowledge and use of modern information and security technology, as we have severally suggested. Beyond that, legal provisions should be made for stiffer penalties to be meted out to the perpetrators of the recurring kidnapping and killings, as well as for their sponsors who arm them to the teeth with arms and ammunition. It is therefore, most unfortunate, that investigations into the allegations of misappropriation of public funds meant for security by some former military helmsmen are left to peter out, with the culprits smiling away under the crude culture of impunity.

As Amnesty International has rightly suggested, thorough investigations must be carried out into the recent kidnappings in Abuja under the watch of the President Tinubu and all those found culpable must be brought to book, and speedily too, no matter whose ox is gored. Doing so will send out the right warning signal and serve as timely deterrence to the masterminds behind the recurring kidnapping of defenceless citizens for ransom. Enough is indeed, enough!

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