THE RESURGENCE OF KIDNAPPING

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The security agencies could do more to contain the scourge

The crime of kidnapping is now on a steady rise and it targets the high and the mighty as well as the poor. Except that, as more recent events showed, whenever the rich are abducted the police authorities are quick to crack the crime and haul in the criminals involved in the dastardly operations. It is usually not the same when not-so-prominent victims are involved. In the latest incident which graphically outlines this trend, members of the criminal gang involved in the kidnap of Mrs Margaret Emefiele were arrested within days. Meanwhile, there are many such cases involving the less privileged that go unreported and are never really resolved.

This trend portends grave danger as citizens may perceive law enforcement agencies as attaching less value to the lives of the less privileged, a perception that may exacerbate the growing urge for self-help in the country. Already, there are concerns about the brazen manner with which the criminal gangs operate without much inhibition by the security agencies. The abduction of the CBN governor’s wife for instance occurred even as she was reportedly escorted by some armed policemen.
However, what is particularly disturbing is that following the arrest of the men that abducted Mrs Emefiele, it emerged that four of them were service men, two each from the police and the army. This no doubt is a very serious development which the government must act quickly to deal with it; if, as we warned earlier, the citizens are not to feel helpless and resort to self-help.

The inclination towards self-help arises not only from a feeling that the security agencies appear not to be doing enough to arrest the situation but also that they are part of the problem as several arrests continue to show the involvement of retired and serving military and police men in the crime. That some of those are paid by the state to protect the people are now using their official weapons to commit such heinous crime is a dangerous development that must not be allowed to continue.

For a country that is in economic recession with the mass of its people barely able to eke out a living, kidnapping could only worsen the security deficit that scares away the required investments that the economy needs to rebound. This is not what the country needs at this time. To that extent, the federal government, which has come under intense criticism over its handling of the economy, cannot afford to allow this sort of development to fester. At a period kidnapping for ransom has become a symptom of a wider problem in the society, it is important for the security agencies to device strategies for tackling the challenge.

Therefore, while we commend the police authorities for ensuring the safe return of Mrs Emefiele to her family, it is also our hope that when other citizens who may not be as prominent are victims, they would be given the same attention. More importantly, we believe that the lessons learned from the deployment of critical assets that led to the arrest of some of the suspects in Mrs Emefiele’s kidnap saga will serve as a model for cracking the crime that has become commonplace in our country today.

As we have said on several occasions, it is high time government reviewed its security architecture and revamped it to bring it up to speed with the requirements of the exigencies of the moment. Apart from making more investments in this area, we think there is an urgent need to review the profile of the nation’s security personnel, weed out the bad eggs amongst them and strengthen the capacity of the rest to do their work more diligently and professionally.