It goes without saying that kidnapping is becoming a hugely disturbing phenomenon in the country today.
Sadly, the condemnable act has, overtime, expanded from targeting of foreigners in the oil-rich Niger Delta region to fellow Nigerians mainly in the southern part of the country.
Today, this reprehensible act has assumed a new dimension. While Nigerians are still being kidnapped down south, kidnapping has become a terrible nightmare up north. As such, this horrifying act has since become a major national crisis, tugging at the heart of the security system.
However, the situation seems to have degenerated in recent times. The recent trend of mass abductions is indicative of how terrible it has become.
In the last one month, the country has been locked in a spell of grief and fear over the spate of mass kidnappings that has taken place.
In the evening of December 11, 2020, over 300 pupils were kidnapped from a boys’ secondary boarding school on the outskirts of Kankara, Katsina State, northern Nigeria. A gang of gunmen on motorcycles attacked the Government Science Secondary School, where more than 800 pupils reside, for over an hour. Days after they were rescued.
Days later, another mass kidnap was done in the state but it didn’t take long for them to be rescued.
Barely two weeks after, one person was killed with over 20 others abducted by gunmen along Mungi-Buga in Gwari-Gadabuke village, Toto Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.
The 20 kidnapped victims were said to be travelling in three vehicles while the former Education secretary with Nasarawa local council, Mallam Salihu was killed at the scene of the incident while travelling to Toto from Nasarawa.
However, another batch of 37 kidnap victims in Katsina State rescued from bandits was on Friday night handed over to the state government. The victims were mainly women and children.
They were abducted in the last two weeks from various communities in the state including Unguwar Malamai, Yantumaki District of Danmusa Local Government Area and Babban Duhu village in Safana Local Government Area of the state.
One of the victims who identified herself as Farida Sani revealed that she was abducted at Runka town in Safana Local Government Area of the state, nine days after her marriage.
In Zamfara State, the Police Command confirmed the kidnap of six children of one Sani Gyare and one other in Kadauri village, Maru Local Government Area of the state early this year. In same state and local government last September, bandits kidnapped 42 persons, including women, in Gobirawar Cali village.
This spate of kidnappings which have become commonplace comes as the regular non mass kidnappings continue across the country as was seen with the kidnap by gunmen of Auxiliary Bishop of Owerri Catholic Archdiocese in Imo State, His Lordship Rev Dr Moses Chikwe. His kidnap came barely a week after the kidnap in the state of another Catholic cleric, Valentine Ezeagu.
We do not hesitate to state that it is relieving that most of the abductees have been released. Such news brings a lot of warmth and reprieve not only for the family members but for the nation at large.
If for nothing, it gives some form of hope that not all those kidnapped are killed. Although some would argue that despite the grim situation, prospects of survival seems high in the light of the number of released persons so far.
However, the nation is yet to evaluate the long term psychological damage that most of the abductees would have to deal with after such horrendous experience.
But there is a deeper concern. Sad as any act of kidnapping is, it is deeply worrying that this variant of mass kidnapping is fast becoming the in-thing, the new frontier in this sordid act.
The reckless audacity with which these criminal elements engage in this act is not just scary but reflective of the lawless state of affairs. Driven by a mindless desire for money, their modus operandi depicts a set of outlaws who have no care of being caught at all. A boldness that outrightly disregards the authority of state.
Perhaps, this attitude is indicative of speculations that these kidnappers are not Nigerians but foreigners who somehow found their way into our country and have since become a menace to society. As it were, these criminal elements have annexed forests and other areas that have less human habitation as their haven across the country. It is from these areas that they launch their nefarious operations.
Although there is little or no admittance of ransom payment especially by the authorities, there is no doubt that this deplorable situation has become a booming criminal enterprise with no regard for the sanctity of human life.
As a newspaper, we believe that the security hierarchy can do far more than they are doing at the moment to arrest this ugly trend before it mutates into a full blown monster. It is hard to believe that these criminal elements have become too powerful for the state to tackle such that no major arrests have been made since the mass kidnap incidences escalated.
What is more harrowing is that series of security operations supposedly aimed at flushing out these bandits and criminal elements, seem not have attained much as they have continue to engage in their ungodly act.
At this juncture we appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to compel the security agencies to do more than they have have been doing in the past to tackle this issue which has not only put Nigeria in the shameful light but caused a lot of psychological trauma with resultant negative economic implications.
We also call on security operatives to adopt new strategies which will include a surgical combing of those hot spots where the criminal elements reside. We believe that the accounts of victims are enough intelligence information for the task.
We are also not unmindful of saboteurs within the security personnel. it is our thinking that the authorities know how to handle them. One thing is clear, the country is tottering on the precipice as far as this security situation is concerned. Pretending otherwise will be playing the ostrich.