• Monday, May 27, 2024
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Abducted ex- bar president: Members call for government action!

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It is DAY FIVE and members of the bar are still agitated over the abduction of its immediate past president, Okey Wali, SAN.

As a follow-up of our earlier reports on Sunday, several prominent members of the profession and Senior Advocates have continued to call on the federal and state (Rivers) government to be proactive in the search for their colleague.

Among those who have made this call are the current President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Augustine Alegeh, SAN, former president of the bar, Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, and former general secretary, Dele Adesina, SAN.

Adesina, who condemned the dastardly act and other assaults against members of the profession lately, reiterated that it was time for government to take seriously the challenges of insecurity in the nation, more so with the elections approaching.

“Violence is on the rise once again, and this has grave implications for the 2015 elections. We must find very proactive ways to end the impunity now! We must take control of the situation before it gets out of hand,” he said.

In the meantime, the Police in Rivers State, having recovered ex-president’s car on NTA-Choba Road in Port Harcourt, is still on the trail of the kidnappers. Eye-witness reports have it that the kidnappers about 21:00 hours on Saturday night trailed Wali all the way to Ozuoba Junction – a stone-throw from his residence, off NTA-Choba Road, where they pulled him over, shot into the air and dragged him out of his car into a waiting vehicle.

Police investigations further revealed that he was taken to the bank of Choba River (situated by the University of Port-Harcourt), pulled into a motorboat and took him away to an unknown destination.

Wali, who was the 26th president of the NBA, handed over the administration of the association to the incumbent, in August 2014, less than two months ago.

Incidentally, security in Nigeria was a prime focus and concern of his administration, and he used every opportunity to reinforce its importance to the development of the nation. In one of his recent addresses he stated: “One of the worst tragedies plaguing our country Nigeria at the moment is the issue of National Security. The high level of insecurity in Nigeria of today is alarming. Innocent, law-abiding citizens can no longer travel safe on our roads due to insurgency, kidnapping, and armed robbery. Social activities and interactions have reduced to the lowest level, for fear of bomb explosions.

“Even when we want to sleep, we can no longer sleep with our two eyes closed. This is the situation in which we have found ourselves. Human life no longer has meaning in our country. Every blessed day, we are inundated by news of uncountable deaths and loss of human lives and property. We have slipped into a country of unshockability to loss of human life. This is a big shame.”

In another, he stated: “The NBA uses this medium to remind the Federal Government again, that the primary responsibility of government is the protection of lives and property.  We also remind the Federal Government that further to the principle of social contract, Nigerian citizens surrendered their sovereignty to the country in return for protection by the state.  So far it seems that government efforts in this regard are not yielding the desired result. We use this opportunity to encourage every Nigerian to be security conscious and collaborate with the security agencies for a more secured society.”

The recurring spate of kidnappings and killings in the region and the slow response of the government to tackling these security threats have been a source of concern to citizens. The Police population ratio in Nigeria is 1:450, which falls below the prevailing standard set by the United Nations. What this means is that the nation is grossly under policed and this partly explains the inability of the Police Force to effectively combat crimes and criminality in the country.

Today, Africa accounts for 36 percent of kidnap and ransom incidents globally, putting it well ahead of the Americas (27%) and Asia (19%) and Nigeria in 2013, accounted for 26 percent of these incidents globally. According to the ‘Street journal,’ not less than 1,500 people are kidnapped in the country on an annual basis, thus making kidnapping a new “cottage industry.”

Here’s the chart from Control Risks showing the regional breakdown of kidnappings:

Below is Business Insider’s top 20 countries for kidnap in 2013:

1. Mexico

2. India

3. Nigeria

4. Pakistan

5. Venezuela

6. Lebanon

7. Philippines

8. Afghanistan

9. Colombia

10. Iraq

11. Syria

12. Guatemala

13. Yemen

14. Libya

15. Egypt

16. Brazil

16. Kenya (tied)

18. Nepal

19. Malaysia

20.  South Africa (tied)

Theodora Kio-Lawson