Kidnappers took their criminal effrontery to the next level last week with the abduction of Magajin Garin Daura, Alhaji Musa Umar, who is also an in-law of President Muhammadu Buhari. The senior traditional title holder in Daura Emirate Council would be the 33rd traditional ruler to be kidnapped in the last four years, according to a data compiled by Daily Trust on Sunday. Magajin Garin Daura was abducted by kidnappers who approached him at his residence in supposed military uniform, apparently taking after one of the deceptive strategies of the Boko Haram whose fighters wear military camouflage in order to look friendly to targetted victims, but later unleash violence on them.
Another high-profile victim of kidnapping was the Chairman of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, who was abducted with his daughter at Kurmin Kare Village along Kaduna-Abuja road at about 3pm last Tuesday. Dr Abubakar’s driver was shot dead by the criminals. More worrisome was the fact that in spite of the constant pledge by security agencies to rid Kaduna – Abuja road of these notorious criminals, kidnappers still operate successfully, not under the cover of darkness, but in broad daylight.
It is shocking that in spite of all the tough talks by service chiefs and strategic meetings Buhari claims to hold with them, these well-trained top police and military eggheads have not be able to infiltrate kidnapping rings, arrest their kingpins and bring them to justice. This is in spite of the fact that many arrested kidnappers are in police net, and may have been debriefed by detectives of the Nigeria Police Force.
We call for a paradigm shift in the anti-kidnapping strategy of government. What is clear to Nigerians by now is that these criminals appear more strategic in their thinking than security operatives. Perhaps, they have even infiltrated security agencies, thus boosting their intelligence network and courage in carrying out their nefarious activities. The group seems well-organised and financially equipped to improve on their criminal enterprise, especially with the cash flow into their coffers running into millions of Naira on a daily basis. If they are not stopped at this stage, they could hold the country captive in such a manner that cannot be managed.
This is why government should declare an emergency in the areas where kidnapping and banditry are most prevalent. Section 14 2(b) of the Constitution states that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.” Therefore, government cannot afford to surrender the country to criminal gangs of whatever shade. Over the last 10 years, trillions of Naira that should have gone into the provision of infrastructure to boost the economy have been appropriated and released to security agencies. Therefore, they should rise to the challenge of protecting Nigeria and Nigerians.
It is speculated that some of the criminals snake into Nigeria from neighbouring countries. We call on security agencies at the country’s borders to demonstrate patriotism by adequately policing the borders, including illegal routes used by these bandits. Also, government should approach the leaders of these neighbouring countries with the aim of forging bilateral or multilateral security agreements that would halt the activities of criminal gangs.
It has become clear that Nigeria needs help in dealing with this dimension of criminality. We call on government to seek such help. Countries like the United Kingdom, Colombia, Italy, Spain, etc have successfully overcome this level of criminality. It is time to deliberately seek their support in combating this crime.