Security agencies could do more to contain the scourge

Across the country, kidnapping for ransom has become a growing industry. From ordinary citizens to businessmen and traditional rulers, nobody is safe. Many of the victims have also been killed even when their families paid the demanded ransom for their release. Yet in all cases, the Police appear rather helpless. Particularly disturbing is the ease with which these kidnappers now abduct traditional rulers.

A few weeks after gunmen kidnapped and later killed the Paramount Chief of Adara Chiefdom in Kachia Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Mr. Maiwada Galadima, a second class traditional ruler of Dorock Kingdom in Shendam Local Government Area of Plateau State, Mr. David Dongbam, was recently abducted right in his palace. The governing mercantile logic among the kidnappers must be that the abduction of monarchs is bound to attract huge attention and sympathy, which could in turn translate to heftier ransom from the monarch’s subjects. But this poses serious national security challenges as we saw in the killing of the Adara.

That traditional rulers who ordinarily are the custodians of traditional values and norms have become easy prey for kidnappers is an indication of how low society has sunk. It is also a testimony to the increasing sophistication of these criminals that they could easily get to these royal fathers who are never alone. But more worrisome is that too often, even when the security agencies are involved in the rescue bids of kidnapped persons, ransoms are still paid, after which the victims are then abandoned by their abductors for law enforcement agents to “rescue and recover”.

We worry about the ease at which kidnappers operate in our country today. With the increasing sophistication of valued added services offered by communication networks especially the tracking system, we wonder why it is difficult for the police to monitor the calls being made by these criminals during negotiations for ransom. But whatever may be the case, we call on security agents to redouble their efforts in dealing with this dangerous phenomenon that is fast turning our country into a huge jungle.

We must, however, highlight the fact that our various communities have a critical role to play in tackling this problem. Kidnappers are not ghosts. They are human beings and they live within communities. Since traditional rulers are also targets, members of our various communities must realise they have a critical role to play in providing useful information to security agencies that should also begin to act with urgency or deploy all necessary and available resources, not only when big names are victims. Above all, we call on government at all levels to begin to address social issues like unemployment and poverty which help to feed this crime because with ransom being paid for victims, kidnapping now seems to be a serious vocation for some idle hands.

Two years ago, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode signed into law a bill stipulating death penalty for kidnappers, whose victims die in their custody and life imprisonment for act of kidnapping in Lagos State. The law states that any person who kidnaps, abducts, detains, captures or takes another person by any means or trick, with intent to demand ransom or do anything against the victim’s will, commits an offence. Although the Senate in 2016 passed a bill which outlaws abduction, wrongful restraint or confinement for ransom with death sentence prescribed for whoever is found guilty, the House of Representatives is yet to pass a concurrence bill. But many states have passed similar stringent laws on kidnaping.

Sadly, not a single person has been brought to justice on account of these laws despite a prevalence of kidnappings in the country.