Over the years when it became apparent that kidnapping for ransom was rising, some states have made laws for the death penalty and life imprisonment for kidnappers. But from all indications such deserving sentences are not being carried out, perhaps particularly where the death penalty is concerned, it is believed that civilian governors are reluctant to sign the death sentence which is the final decision for execution.
Nobody and nowhere is safe. It seems as if nobody could stop them, while they operate with impunity. This makes people question the intelligence units of our security agencies which it is expected of them to trace and track phone calls and locations, including money paid as ransom through banks.
The National Identification Number (NIN) and BVN by the banks were touted to be the turning point in combating kidnapping. Therefore, it is either they are not being used or the kidnappers outsmart the security agencies, which is a sad commentary on the ability and expertise of intelligence gathering.
In any event, the level of escalation in kidnapping is beyond comprehension. Kidnapping in rural communities is rampant where security agents are far in between and few at that and they are mostly overpowered by the bandits where they try to engage them. However, when people are kidnapped on the road or estates stormed in cities and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for that matter, it shows insecurity rising to the highest level.
Perhaps with the outcry over the recent kidnapping of six sisters in Bwari, Abuja and the killing of Nabeeha one of them over the failure of their father to raise the amount demanded by the kidnappers; among other kidnappings in the FCT, the authorities would put more effort to combat this menace that may not go anywhere soon. The other sisters were later released by the kidnappers.
Not everybody has the privilege of his story being carried out all over and even have a former minister help to raise millions of naira as ransom for their release or have national leaders of repute meeting about how to end kidnapping. Yet there are many women and young girls being kidnapped and living with the kidnappers for a long time, some are forced to marry them. They have little hope of being rescued or escaping.
The focus is because of the frequent kidnappings in Abuja and therefore too close for comfort to them, the authorities and the leaders should however remember the underprivileged ones as well.
In so doing they should look at the root cause beyond cattle rustling and local vigilante fights with the Fulani.
A good starting point is to admit the failure of the authorities, religious leaders and traditional rulers over a long period to bring these people into the fold and give them a sense of belonging. Instead, they are neglected and allowed to run wild, running their own ‘empires’ and now they are a threat to everybody. Those who amass millions of naira to safeguard themselves and their grandchildren from poverty are no longer safe to enjoy their assets.
Two days ago I watched a video of a ten-year-old boy who went to houses to beg, but he was sent by kidnappers to find victims. He would later lead them to the houses. He was also taught how to fire a gun.
How many more of these young children do we have as informants and potential bandit leaders?
The problem is so enormous that all those concerned should do their best before it consumes us.
As it is because kidnappers usually succeed in taking ransom without being apprehended, people now fake their kidnap to extort money from their relatives. It has become a way to raise capital for business, believing that their relatives would go to any length to secure their release. If caught they should be dealt with like the real kidnappers.
In this regard, to show that kidnapping cannot be tolerated the state governors should please sign the death warrant for kidnappers sentenced to death. We need to send a strong message that criminals cannot rule us at will.