On Friday 7th April 2023 at about 8 am, no fewer than 80 persons who went to the bush to pick firewood were kidnapped by gunmen in Zamfara State. The incident which happened at Wanzamai village left the entire village in fear and confusion as virtually every household was affected. The gunmen that abducted them have since demanded for ransom for the release of the victims.
Elsewhere on the fateful day, Prof. Onje Gye-Wado, Former Deputy Governor of Nassarawa State was abducted by gunmen at his residence in Gwagi village within Wamba Local Government Area of the state. The following day it was reported that his abductors demanded about N70 million ransom before he would be released. Reports has it that he has been freed but not before parting with about N4 million ransom allegedly.
On the same day yet again, some gunmen reportedly attacked an Internal Displaced Persons (IDP) camp at Agan in the Makurdi Local Government Area of Benue with many killed. A few days earlier, about 46 people were killed by gunmen who invaded Umogidi village of Entekpa-Adoka district in the State. The killing comes barely 24 hours after the same village, suffered an attack with three persons killed.
These are highlighted cases of kidnappings and attacks that were reported by the media. There are several other cases that have gone below the media radar where such cases did not make major headlines. Recently on social media, there was a case of a before and after pictures of a man that was recently released by his abductors after spending over 6 months in the kidnappers’ den.
While the major discourse across the country has been centered on post-election matters, not much light is being beamed on the resurgence of kidnappings, violence and killings in some parts of the country. Curiously these abductions and attacks have happened after the just concluded General Elections. Recall that before the elections, the spate of violence and kidnappings reached alarming levels. But with the introduction of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) naira design policy, there was a notable nosedive in the activities of kidnappers.
In no time, there was a lull in the kidnap-for-ransom business. The business suddenly quieted down. Since there was a cash strap challenge brought about by the CBN policy, many people couldn’t get access to huge amounts of cash. Hence the kidnappers had to halt their trade. This also continued through the electioneering period, well until the CBN had to revise the policy. With the gradual access to cash now, we are beginning to witness a resurgence of kidnappings and attacks.
Over the years Kidnappings and banditry has become a major challenge across the country. Before the elections, not a day went by when one does not read on the pages of newspapers or online media cases of kidnapping or violent attacks by gunmen or bandits as the case may be. The infamous train passenger kidnapping last year was a major blight to the nation’s security architecture along with the several school children kidnappings the year before.
The incoming government whether at national or sub-national levels will have their hands full attending to the security challenge. Nonetheless, the President-Elect Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu via “Hope Renewed” made several provisions to mitigate the security challenge across the country. Asiwaju promised to establish a highly trained and disciplined anti-terrorist squad to tackle insecurity. This, of course, will be a master stroke. A dedicated highly trained team such as the Special Weapons and Tactics (S.W.A.T) unit in the U.S. will go a long way in curbing terrorist activities across the country.
The Nigerian Police Force will also be repositioned to deliver on its primary duties of community policing and maintaining law and order through crime fighting and prevention. He also plans to better equip Military units with tactical communications gear and new vehicles to give them greater communications and mobility advantage over criminals, bandits and terrorists. A key provision is the adoption and deployment of modern technologies, tools and equipment.
In addition to these, an effective border control must be ensured. There should also be provision of a reliable and unique identification number system of each individual such as National ID card, driver’s license, and voter cards for tracking social benefits and other identification purposes. Creating better relationship between the locals and Nigerian law enforcement agencies is also crucial in winning the war against criminal element in our domains.
Establishing dedicated community policing with effective participation of traditional leaders, religious leaders, youths, and other social organizations within communities in Nigeria will also go a long way with dealing with the insecurity challenge. This will aid in curbing the problem of kidnapping as trust will be established between the community and with law enforcement being consistent and available when kidnapping incidents arise.
Cutting off the logistics of kidnappers is also very vital. The CBN naira design policy effectively did this. Cashless policy should be one of the key aims of the incoming government. As well as track monies, it will be very effective in curbing the activities of kidnappers and other crime and criminality across the country. Other ways include the usual suspects of improving the standards of living of Nigerians, provision of employment for the youths, stiffer penalties for culprits and sound moral and religious teachings among others. These will help reduce the unfortunate act of kidnapping in Nigeria.
Many have asked what roles governors play in tackling such crimes at sub-national levels. Constitutionally, the overall security of the nation is vested in the Federal Government and the President and Commander-in-Chief must take responsibility, ultimately, for that. The buck stops on the President’s desk. However, the state governors also have a big role to play within even the present structure. They cannot continue to wring their hands in despair while their people bear the brunt of insecurity.
They are closer to the people and the people look unto them for immediate succor. With the huge amount in security votes they collect, state governors must do all within their means to provide succor to the people who elected them. Good governance at local levels will go a long way in curbing criminal activities. Employment generation for the youth will put the majority of them away from the path of criminality and deplete the pool from which criminal hirelings can be recruited.
Elections are over and as a people we need to urgently turn our attention to happenings within our localities. Evident from frequent recent attacks, shows armed gangs have returned to the usual banditry and kidnapping business after the last two weeks’ elections. We need to continue and consistently beam the spotlight on such cases until lasting solutions are proffered and implemented. As they say, security is everybody’s responsibility. Vigilance is key as well as assisting security personnel and holding those entrusted with safeguarding us accountable.