Background of the Study

Kidnapping seems to have fast assumed a thriving industry in Nigeria. Relatives of kidnapped suspects pay huge sums of money in millions of Naira and maybe hard currency in other to secure their release. NGOZI NWANKWO examines the trend and its negative impacts on the society.

To say that kidnapping activities in Nigeria is worrisome is to un- derstate the obvious. Before, only expartriates were the targets;

however, the trend has changed drastical ly from only whisking expatriates to the rich, wealthy and their relations, including women and children.

Usually, persons so kidnapped are holed up at some dark corners or far instances until millions of naira are paid to kidnappers before their eventual release their victims.

Many have attributed this ugly phenom- enon to failure of governance at all levels of governmenty in the country. This has, no doubt, imposed some negative implica- tions on the image of the country.

Of course, gone are days when poor citizens look up to the rich for security; rather, the rich people are now the most affected group.

The high rate of kidnapping has been linked with several factors. It is associated with the emergence of militancy, terror- ism and state of insecurity.

What seems to have hitherto domiciled in south-eastern Nigeria, especially Abia State to be precise, is taking its train of movement round the country, gradually spreading around.

Kidnapping refers to forceful abduction of a human being with the intention to hold them for ransom, or seize them away for the motive of harassment (physically or mentally or sexually), taking them hos- tage and various other motives. It is done by the way of taking the kidnapped per- son to a place where they are unlikely to be found and is unlikely to be released till abductors demands are satisfied.

In one of the numerous televised pub- lic hearings on organised by the House of Representatives on how to tackle the menace of insecurity in the country, the senator from Abia South Senatorial, Sena- tor, Eyinnaya Abaribe, attributed the ma- jor causes of kidnapping in the south-east to inadequate infrastructure such as good road network and electricity that would enhance productivity in the area thereby creating employment opportunities for the youths.

The high rate of unemployment which emanated from inadequate provision of this infrastructure displaced many youths out of their jobs thereby offering them no better options other than engaging themselves in anti-social activities such as armed robbery, kidnapping and other economic and financial crimes.

He further said that Abia State was a big commercial city where every economic activity thrived but since the problems of unsteady power supply and inacces- sibility of these commercial areas due to bad roads surfaced in the state, nothing seemed to be moving again. According to him, this has put off so many youths who could not cope with the trend from busi- ness.

But the Senate President, David Mark, who refused to agree on this reason said some youths are ruthless and lazy that some of them deliberately refusing job for quest for quick and evil money.

Other concerned citizens attribute the immediate problem facing Nigeria ema- nates from the social imbalance, espe- cially on the line of the two classes of the people. In other words, this is anchored on the pressure on certain people to meet up the challenges of satisfying their eco- nomic needs.

Of course, the fact remains that this people are likely to go extra mile to commit crime of different types.

However, tracing the history of kid- napping in Nigeria to the youths of the Niger Delta region who revolted against the exploitation of the oil re- sources of the area in the face of ab- ject poverty being faced by the people of that region, Mr. Onovo said, “the youths resorted to kidnapping of ex- patriates to press home their demand for attention which later metamor- phosed to demand for ransom.

“ Youth restiveness and unemploy- ment has made kidnapping to be raised to an uncontrollable dimen- sion”, he said.

He enumerated other causes of kid- napping to include poverty, illiteracy, political factors, peer group influence amongst others. He thus called on women who are the stabilising force in the family to nurture and train their children in a proper way since the chil- dren are the leaders of tomorrow.

He also advised mothers from the wealthy homes to teach their children that wealth is a privilege and not a right, saying “If mothers inculcate good education and good morals, it would help curtail vices among the youths”. Again women should dis- courage their husbands from sybaritic life in order to avoid them being kid- napped, she also added.

It is true to state that since the sur- face of kidnapping, Nigeria has lost count of national figures abducted on a daily basis with huge sum as ran- som. The most recent ones were the kidnap of the popular Nollywood ac- tress, Nkiru Sylvanus; four Chinese construction workers in Bayelsa and Katsina States.

Perhaps, the most popular was the abduction of the 83 years old Mrs. Kanane Okonjo, mother of Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, whose condition of release was not disclosed whether there was ransom or not, but the report of her kidnap- ping tied closely to controversies sur- rounding the Subsidy Reinvestment Committee and cabals.

The dangerous trends in kidnap- ping has, unfortunately, lead to loss of lives, properties, money and some negative implications to the country in a larger form.

Unarguably, that much talks and public hearings have been heard of how to intensify efforts to tack- ling insecurity but nothing has been achieved so far. It seems that more government intensifies, the more the perpetrators strategise on how to hit the ground running on their trade.

It will be laughable to say that Nige- ria is indeed heading in the direction of its targeted goal of vision 20:2020 which aims to make the country be- come one of the 20th largest econo- mies by the year 2020 with the way things are. There is no reasonable for- eign investor that would like to invest where stability and security are not guaranteed.

The economic activities have long thwarted as most local investors prefer to invest in other foreign countries other than Nigeria where their investments are safer.

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Updated: 29th August 2018 — 10:56 am