By Zubike Okonkwo
The kidnapping industry has evolved in Nigeria like a joke. From a mere tool for agitation by the Niger Delta militants, it has become a business that has come to stay as a result of our inability to take the menace very seriously in our usual unserious manner. It has now started to affect the low and mighty; maybe now we can act.
This is an issue that has wrecked homes, impoverished many, as people have to borrow to pay the ransoms and traumatised the victims. In all these, I have not seen anyone that has been used as an example that I begin to wonder if there is a conspiracy theory somewhere. Are our security agents compromised? Are they benefitting from this organised crime?
In the southern part of Nigeria, East and South-South, it has become a daily thing that no day passes without an individual being kidnapped. People in Owerri are under siege and perceived affluent workers are now targets for kidnappers who feel they have the resources to pay ransoms. Many people have deserted their homes and villages due to this ugly phenomenon. The issue has become endemic that very soon; it will start appearing in business schools as case studies.
Story has it that in South-East, the kidnappers have been able to develop a wonderful product called discounted kidnap paper – DKP. There are two categories of these kidnappers. Those that do the hunting and those that do the warehousing. The hunters are those who do not have warehousing facilities. They do the field exercise, sell the victims to those that have warehouse at discounted premium and move on to look for next target. The warehousing team can then keep you as long as they want in order to extract much money from the family of the victim. On a daily basis, families pay these ransoms in order to get their loved ones back and yet we have security agents being paid daily with taxpayers’ money.
I am getting sick and tired of the way we conduct our affairs in this country as if lawlessness has become the order of the day and human lives are not important. Perhaps the government wants people to take laws into their hands in the name of jungle justice before they know this situation has become intolerable. The question I am asking is how do these kidnappers make calls, collect these ransoms and yet Police cannot detect their locations using very simple technologies?
What has become of the SIM card registration? Was it a process introduced to game the system without any value added? Have we lost it in this country? What sort of embarrassment is this? Why is it that once a high profile person or his/her relative is kidnapped, police are at their best and the victim is rescued and re-united with the family in a jiffy? Does this mean police really know who these kidnappers are but only act when their jobs are being threatened? Does it mean some people are more important than others?
I guess we really have a big problem in our hands and it is high time our President stepped into this issue and declared a state of emergency on this. It has become a national embarrassment and a big stumbling block to our efforts to attract foreign investments to the country. Enough of this national shame! Nigerians are watching to see how determined the Federal Government is towards addressing this issue once and for all.
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