The news, as is always the case, shocking, filtered in that a former Minister of the Environment in the Jonathan administration, Mrs Laurentia Mallam and her husband, Pius were confirmed by the police to have been kidnapped on the Bwari/Jere axis on Kaduna-Abuja highway on Monday evening. The report of the kidnap incident also stated that the abductors took away the former minister and her husband, but spared their driver unharmed.
As is usual in such dastardly situations, the abductors were said to have reached out to the former minister’s family demanding ransom. Almost at the same time, the wife of the Central Bank Governor, Mrs Margaret Emefiele, was abducted by another set of criminals on her way to Agbor on the Benin – Asaba Expressway. The Police almost immediately effected her release. Before this recent incidences, a colonel had been kidnapped on that same Kaduna – Abuja highway and killed. Even the Police are not spared in this macabre dance of the absurd as six members of the Force on patrol on the Lokoja-Okene highway were attacked and one was killed.
These are just a few examples of the danger commuters daily experience on the nation’s highways which have developed from pothole – riddled death traps to den of kidnappers, armed robbers and other undesirable elements.
Kidnapping or abduction reared its ugly head in the aftermath of the militancy in the Niger Delta where it was used by frustrated youths in that region to draw the attention of the government to their plight, especially the perceived injustice oil exploration was and still is inflicting on them. Because most of the victims then were staff of oil companies and expatriates who had money to burn, ransom was heavy and it was paid. Typically, the crime developed into an industry and attracted participants from other regions. In the process, the rich and the not – so – rich became endangered species. Domestic staff became informants to the criminals for the pecuniary attraction it holds.
We commend the Police for the swift rescue of the former minister and her husband and urge that they hold on to the driver until investigations are concluded. It is becoming obvious that for any kidnap attempt to succeed, there is always an insider connection. Criminals are not spirits.
But beyond this, it has become imperative, in our opinion, to demand that this unwholesome act by anti-social elements must be put to a definite stop. We refuse to accept that the security apparatus of state is so helpless in this matter that has become a source of anxiety to the people. It is a moot point to even conjecture that there are bad eggs in the disciplined forces who may find it alluring to collude with enemies of society to perpetrate crime. That is besides the issue which is that all the arms of the security agencies owe themselves a duty to mobilise to rid the nation of these brigands. And, in our view, the first place to start is by weeding the forces of tares. A rotten security agent is worse than the most ferocious bandit.
We are not by any means calling to question the moral integrity of the men and women in uniform. The point is that the ease at which these urchins get away with crime raises more than a few questions about the effectiveness of the security agencies. The Police and, for that matter, its sister agencies must adopt proactive measures to combat this menace and subdue it in a decisive manner. Prevention, the saying goes, is better than cure. The Intelligence community in the country must live up to its billings so as to stop crimes before they are committed. It is not enough to deny that ransom was paid just to play up the dexterity of the forces. It is common knowledge that relations of victims of abduction go out of their way to meet those monetary demands if that will bring their loved one home. And this is in spite of the police or any other arm of the security forces.