• Monday, April 22, 2024
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Over 300 Kaduna kidnap victims still in terrorists’ den

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…As security apparatchiks engage in ad-hoc meetings

The security agencies appear to be overwhelmed with the gale of kidnapping and general insecurity in the country. Despite the Federal Government assurances of rescuing the over 250 kidnapped pupils in Kajuru, Kaduna State, there has been no positive news to that effect.

Read also: Kaduna abduction: Kidnappers demand N1bn, vow to kill victims in 20 days

To worsen the situation, another 61 persons were abducted last Wednesday by terrorists who allegedly moved from house to house picking their victims without resistance.

Since the sad developments, the high echelon of security agents has had numberless meetings that have so far yielded no result.

The other day, the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu; Service Chiefs led by the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Christopher Musa, and some governors from the Northern states, held meeting to discuss the rising insecurity in the country.
The discussion centred on strategic plans on how to rescue the internally displaced persons, school children and Tsangaya students abducted by terrorists in Borno, Kaduna and Sokoto states.
Such security meetings have been a regular feature, particularly each time the terrorists strike.

Read also: Nigeria’s kidnapping racket is a symptom of a failing state – FT Editorial

A school proprietor, who expressed concern over the growing cases of abduction of pupils and teachers accused the government of behaving like the mother hen whenever a hawk carries one of the chicks.

The school administrator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that each time a hen loses a chick, despite the prancing and shouting, it does not go beyond that. He accused the Federal Government of not doing enough to combat insecurity in the country.

“I, as a citizen, am worried about the way our government goes about the fight against insecurity. I grew up in the village and saw what the mother hen used to do each time a chick is carried away by a hawk. The mother hen would shout, prance about and make a loud noise as if it would do the unimaginable. But surprisingly, in a matter of seconds, it would calm down and continues with her normal life; but the chick is gone. That is what I see the government do over the years. We must go beyond shouting, and endless security meetings to implementing whatever decisions arrived at such meetings. That is how to move forward. That is how to get result,” he said.

While apprehension has gripped Nigerians, President Bola Ahmed made a controversial statement that payment of ransom has been cancelled.

But many Nigerians think that Tinubu appears overwhelmed and as a result lacked the appropriate word to say in the circumstances he has found himself.

Some have also challenged him to match his word louder with actions, considering that he had made many promises in the past aimed at assuaging the anger of Nigerians against his administration’s policies, but failed to keep them.

In his inaugural speech, President Tinubu promised to make security top priority of his administration, promising among other things, to provide security personnel with better training, equipment, pay and fire power.

But observers say just like his predecessor Muhammadu Buhari, Tinubu is not doing enough and has largely failed so far, while the spate of kidnapping for ransom, killings and other criminal activities have worsened in the last few months.

The government is battling on all fronts; controversial reforms and policies have led to an economic crisis and spike in the prices of goods and service, inflation at a record high, abductions have become a daily affair especially in several Northern states.

Over the years, successive governments have deployed soldiers and bombed suspected hideouts used by the terrorists and armed groups but that method has not solved the situation.

Large ungoverned swath of land in several Northern states, gives the terrorists the liberty to attack schools that are without fences and with little or no security presence.

In these abductions, families have had to sell their cars, land, or pool money together to pay ransom to the terrorists to secure the release of their loved ones. In most instances school children and women are their target, tearing many communities and families apart.

The Financial Times of London, just a few days ago, defined the kidnapping racket going on in Nigeria as the symptom of a failing state.

“One of the most important responsibilities of the government to its citizens is the protection of lives and property. I think we can all safely agree, devoid of partisanship, that the government is failing in this regard.

Read also: Nigeria kidnappings break up families, keep children out of school

“What happened in Kaduna is a sad reminder of the unfortunate Chibok debacle,” Ladipo Johnson, lawyer and public affairs analyst, said.

A report by research firm, SBM, in July 2023, said kidnapping for ransom has eclipsed other motivation for abduction, especially political reasons.

Similarly, a recent report from SBM revealed that 7,000 people have been kidnapped throughout Nigeria since President Tinubu took office in May last year.

Some security experts say the President is yet to show the political will to tackle insecurity in the country, noting that there is no difference from the situation now and the Buhari’s administration.

Equally, some observers have also canvassed for foreign military support since it is becoming obvious that security agencies are overstretched, overwhelmed and can’t handle the situation alone.

They say since the country has failed to win the insurgency war for more than a decade, with the situation worsening and terrorists more emboldened, drastic measures must be taken.

Tade Ademola, public affairs analyst, said that there could be complicity of security agencies and traditional/religious rulers in the rising kidnapping cases, noting that corruption could be affecting efforts to fight insurgency in the country.

According to him, “The security situation in Nigeria is multi hydra headed. I see the complicity of the international community, the security apparatus, and traditional/religious leaders.

“Efforts to make changes are always sabotaged. The Kaduna scenario is an organised crime. Many questions are begging for answers. A layman can see the laxity exhibited by security lapses.

“Those arrested for kidnapping are splinter groups who were not in part of the cartel. The signs are ominous. There’re now kidnapping groups all over the country. The situation is pretty bad.”

Equally, Sallek Yaks Musa, development sociologist at Northampton University, said that inclusive governance is essential for peaceful coexistence and a sense of belonging, while government must also address the lingering crisis of displacement and occupation in the middle belt, and the secession agitation in the South-east.

Musa stressed that Nigeria’s security agencies need better oversight and coordination, along with performance monitoring and accountability.

He stated that these measures can improve the impact of security budgets.

“It’s also vital to address the socio-economic factors that contribute to insecurity. The country needs job creation, poverty alleviation and inclusive economic growth, particularly in areas affected by insurgency and insecurity. Investment in education, healthcare and infrastructure will create opportunities that discourage criminal activities,” he further stated.

Meanwhile, Johnson expressed fears that with the current economic crisis in the country, kidnapping business may continue to be lucrative.

According to Johnson, “With the consistent increase in inflation, especially food inflation, the increase in the cost of living, and the southward trajectory of the value of the naira, it is easy to see that this apparently lucrative business venture of kidnapping might just continue to be on the increase, as government has not gotten a hold on it.”

Many Nigerians say it was time for the Tinubu administration to think-outside-the box and use a multi-faceted approach to fight crime in the country.

Part of the suggestion is for the government to fasten its decision to collaborate with the state government to set up state police.

“We need to have local policing that is fortified and equipped; they can work with federal police and army, and share information to fight crime.

“The President accepted the option of state police, we thought by now he should be working towards getting legislative backing for that, for me it is vital towards checking crime,” Wale Ogunwale, policy analyst, said.

Abdulaziz Yar’Adua, a senator from Katsina State, disclosed last Friday that the Federal Government was working on recruiting more security personnel to battle the rising crime rate.

Yar’ Adua, who is the chairman of the Senate committee, lamented the abysmal number of security agencies in the country, saying that there are plans to correct it.

“First of all, you have to understand that we have a problem with the strength of the police and the military and other security agencies that we have.

“They cannot really police and secure this nation. You must understand that, and I know the President Ahmed Tinubu is working on that.”

Also speaking on the way out of the security situation, security expert, Oladele Fajana, said to curb insecurity and crimes, Tinubu government must formulate effective and sustainable policies to sustain the fight against insecurity.

Fajana stated that many things are going wrong with the fight against crimes in Nigeria.

He called on security agencies to always anticipate the moves of the criminals, stressing that he must pick qualified heads of security agencies to sustain the fight against all forms of criminality.

“In a society where the criminals are ahead of the security agents, there will be many problems, but when the community is ahead of the criminals, there will be fewer problems,” he said.