Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Worried that the Nigeria’s acting Inspector-General (IG) of Police, Mr. Kayode Egbetokun, is not bothered that for 10 days since terrorists kidnapped eight National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members on a highway in Zamfara State and they are yet to be rescued, Human Rights Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has asked the police chief to either get the youth corps members freed within 24 hours or resign forthwith.
Relying on media reports, HURIWA said that the victims were kidnapped on Saturday, August 21, while travelling from Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, to Sokoto en route to Zamfara State.
They were to going to take part in the mandatory national service when the bandits intercepted their vehicle.
According to reports, 11 corps members were kidnapped, but three managed to escape. Aside from the eight corps members, the driver of the bus was also abducted. Also, it is gathered that the family of one of the victims, Betty Udofia, was reached and that the kidnappers are demanding N4 million ransom.
However, in a statement, HURIWA said the acting IG has not prioritised the rescue of these corpers for no justifiable reasons.
The rights group also condemned the lack of administrative sanctions on heads of security by the president for the widespread insecurity all around the country.
According to HURIWA, if the heads of security forces are punished administratively for dereliction of duty following security breaches in Nigeria, the acting IG would have sat up to send troops to rescue the kidnapped youths corps members.
HURIWA said although the kidnapping of the corpers is such a very sensitive issue because it touches on the institution set up by the country to promote national cohesion, unity and to harness the talents, skills and gifts of youngsters towards national service, it reminded those advocating the abolition of the NYSC that kidnappings have become hydra-headed monsters and asserted that Nigerians should be more focused on demanding intelligence based policing which is lacking in Nigeria than taking the cheap logic of calling for an end to the great national institution such as NYSC.
Citing researched study, HURIWA stated that between the period of July 2022 and June 2023, at least 3,620 persons were abducted in 582 kidnap-related incidents across Nigeria. HURIWA stated that compilation by researchers shows that the number is more than the 3,420 people that were kidnapped between the period of July 2021 – June 2022.
According to the report titled ‘The Economics of Nigeria’s Kidnap Industry by SBM Intelligence, an Africa-focused geopolitical research and strategic communications consulting firm, at least five billion naira ($6.4 million as of June 30) were reported as ransom demands, while verified ransom payouts amounted to N302 million ($387,179), a figure potentially underestimated due to underreporting. “We believe these numbers could be far higher than reported. This is because victims’ families and the police often choose not to state whether or not a ransom was paid to procure the release of the abducted, and in the few cases when ransom payments are acknowledged, the fees are hardly disclosed,” it said.
It said the kidnapped figures reflect Nigeria’s security agencies’ struggle to contain kidnap for ransom.
“Yet, the number of kidnappers killed has not served as a credible deterrent for would-be kidnappers.”
It added that the rising kidnap incidents show the industry’s profitability outweighs the perceived threat of state intervention and police rescues.
SBM also revealed that the North Central region recorded higher ransom amounts, notably in Nasarawa state, where targeted abductions yielded maximum ransoms with minimal resistance.
It said the South-south’s low ransom payments may indicate efficient police intervention or victim silence.
“We believe that the latter is more likely as kidnap victims fear re-abduction,” it said.
Besides, HURIWA recalled that the latest Global Peace Index ranked Nigeria among the top 20 least peaceful countries in the World just as HURIWA supports the continuous existence of the NYSC for the noble roles it has been playing to stabilise Nigeria, promote multicultural dialogues, and enhancements of broader national networking by young Nigerian graduates from diverse ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds.
HURIWA is therefore, demanding that the acting IG Kayode Egbetokun takes concrete steps to ensure that the eight corpers still being held in captivity by terrorists are freed within 24 hours or he quits or be dismissed for failing in his task of securing the nation going by the fact that the NYSC is a symbol of our national unity which must be safeguarded by every legitimate means
“It is indeed disappointing that the IG, the Zamfara state governor abandoned these corpers with terrorists and went to Rwanda to attend the so-called leadership programme just as Akwa Ibom state governor who is the governor of the state of origin of most of these kidnapped corpers allegedly travelled too to Rwanda on political jamboree.