Since Nigeria gained her independence in 1960, never was a time that the country was held by the jurgular by kidnappers like now. In recent weeks, the country has been suffocating under the deadly activities of kidnappers and bandits, especially in the North-West zone.
No doubt, the activities of Boko Haram and killings by herdsmen have reduced drastically and we are now confronted with two new evils – kidnappings and banditry.
Traveling by road now to any part of the country is like going on a suicide mission. The Abuja – Kaduna road which connects the federal capital to the North-west states has been taken over by kidnappers. Birnin Gwari area in Kaduna State has now become synonymous with violent deaths. Taraba, Zamfara, Sokoto and Gombe roads are unpassable at the moment.Virtually all the major roads in the country have been taken over by kidnappers.
According to reports, more than 10 persons were abducted on the Kaduna -Abuja road last week.
Last week also, kidnappers abducted the Lagos State Fire Service Director, Rasaki Musibau and about nine others along the Epe-Itokin road, Ikorodu.
The incident, it was gathered, occurred while the fire chief and others were returning to Lagos from Epe. Days after, they regained their freedom.
The kidnappers have also entered major towns to carry out their nefarious activities.
In March, gunmen in Kano killed a driver and kidnapped an expatriate in the metropolis.
The expatriate, who is a staff of Triacta Construction Company working on the Kano Zoo Road under-pass, was abducted at the construction site in the metropolis.
Recall that the mother-in-law of Katsina governor, Aminu Masari, was also kidnapped in the state capital. Her release was eventually secured.
A renowned Kano-based Quranic reciter, Sheikh Ahmad Sulaiman and five other persons were kidnapped in Katsina State while on transit, though they have been rescued by the military.
In Abuja, I have heard and read about incidences of kidnapping. No one is safe in Abuja anymore. The crime rate in the federal capital has spiked astronomically. When you leave your car anywhere, you are not sure of coming back to meet your car. Either the car must have been stolen or the glasses broken .
No doubt kidnapping has gained ascendancy in recent weeks and drastic actions need to be taken by the federal government to combat the menace.
The first task of the acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu was the recently concluded 2019 general elections and now that the elections are over, his next major task is to nip kidnappings in the bud. Kidnapping is now a national emergency.
Most of the kidnappers take advantage of the forest on the roads to carry out their evil agenda. On the Kaduna – Abuja expressway, most of the victims are ambushed around Rijana and Katari villages because of the Rijana forest where the kidnappers usually march their victims into the forest. What stops the police or military from combing the Rijana forest and most of the forests along the highway? I believe when the forests are combed, their camps and even ritualist camps will be discovered and it will go a long way in reducing the incidences of kidnappings.The Rijana forest is not expansive like the Sambisa forest that cut across countries and several states.
The Birnin Gwari forest on the other hand cut across like five states and most of the bandits are living in the forest. A major military operation is needed to clear that forest of bandits. I know the military are overstretched at the moment as they are virtually carrying out operations in every geo-political zone of the country.
If we have not already, I’m of the strong opinion that we need to invest more in drones. With that, most of these forests will be combed effectively. We don’t need much manpower on this, just an investment in security technology.
Sometimes I ask myself, how did we get here? People no longer pray for protection from accidents because of the bad roads but now we pray not to run into kidnappers or bandits on the highways.
I saw a picture of a crowd waiting to board the train from Abuja to Kaduna. Most people I know these days make use of the railway to Kaduna. But unfortunately most of the states are not connected by rail.
Two years ago, when the Abuja Airport runway was being fixed and flights was diverted to Kaduna Airport, for the whole six weeks when the repair was carried out, we didn’t hear of a single incident of kidnapping on the road because of the VIP movements on the road. So essentially it can be done.
The federal government needs to declare a national emergency on kidnappings and the IGP has a lot on his plate.
The reorganisation of the police is also a top priority. We have had one death too many by trigger-happy policemen in recent weeks.The case of Kolade Johnson is still fresh in our memory. So, when has it become a crime to have a tatoo or wear dreadlocks in Nigeria? A young man wearing dreadlocks is now a target for policemen. You are branded a cultist or a yahoo boy. The policemen forget the maxim that never judge a book by its cover. Most of the criminals these days dress decently and wearing nice-looking suits and native wears.
The police need total re-orientation to move to the Next Level slogan of the present government. At the same time, we know the police are under funded and are short of manpower at the moment.
If the present IGP wants to write his name on gold, reducing kidnappings and banditry should be his major priority at the moment.
In his own reaction to the spike in kidnappings and banditry, President Muhammadu Buhari described as ridiculous, suggestions that he is indifferent to killings by bandits in the country.
He also reassured Nigerians that ending banditry remains a key priority of his administration and he would do whatever it takes to ensure the country’s security system confronts these public enemies with merciless determination.
I want to believe the President and we hope in no distant time from now kidnappings and banditry will become history in Nigeria.
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