Kyluik Morris, a Canadian who recently had a nasty experience in Nigeria, spending six days in the den of kidnappers, has alleged that policemen in Ogun State assisted him to deliver the N2.5 million paid to the outlaws as ransom to regain his freedom. That was rather shocking but those who understand how the underworld operates in this clime maintain that it is not strange even if it sounds ludicrous. In addition to the ransom, Morris also claimed, the police demanded and collected N20, 000 as transport fare to the hideouts of the kidnappers from his wife who was liaising with them while his travails lasted.
The police have since denied paying any ransom to rescue the Canadian. They claimed as usual that they did not support the payment of ransom to kidnappers as that would encourage them to continue the nefarious business. However, many citizens whose relations or friends have been victims of kidnappers have continued to marvel at what they called the barefaced lie about ransom payment. Some policemen, they claim, are known not only to encourage ransom payment but also to apply subtle pressure, which smacks of vested interests, on victims’ relations to pay.
Viewed dispassionately, the police denial of the allegations begs the question. Indeed, Morris’ claim raises more fundamental issues, one of which is the likelihood of compromise by security agencies. The allegations are monumental and it will be injurious to the system to dismiss them with the customary wave of the hand and move on. The authorities and the relevant stakeholders must ensure that they get to the root of the matter and resolve the grey areas. This should happen without prejudice to the efforts that must necessarily be geared up to flush out as quickly as possible, the bad eggs that have infiltrated the system. Leaving the situation as it is presently is quite ominous. For instance, the matter is bound to lead to further loss of public confidence in the security system. And as a consequence, the campaigns for foreign investments would amount to waste.
The president, ministers, governors and some other public officials spend millions of naira junketing around the globe in search of prospective investors. Pray, which investor will want to come to an unsafe environment and put his life and investment at risk? This is really a critical issue as it also means that all the efforts and resources currently being deployed officially to improve and enhance the ease of doing business in the country have the prospect of yielding nothing substantial. The country can ill afford this kind of scenario as it is in dire need of foreign direct investments to prop up the tottering economy. Perhaps it should be mentioned that the embarrassing and unsettling claim by Morris probably came to the fore because he is a foreigner who could not comprehend why what transpired between him and the police should not be brought to the public domain.
Surprisingly, the police did not even say that they were interested in the matter and would investigate it. Rather, they simply jumped into a conclusion that rubbished the victim’s account. Yet to many dispassionate observers, the victim’s narrative, as discomforting as it is and in spite the slur it cast on the integrity of the police, appears to be real and believable. In any case, whether or not the police played any role in the payment of ransom to rescue the victim, the fact that he was kidnapped in broad daylight and spent six days in captivity is symptomatic of security failure. The police were evidently not on top of their game. Truth be told, the country is sliding into the abyss in terms of security of life and property. The times, to say the least, are trying.
Many local economic actors have been rendered unproductive, being kidnapped, maimed or displaced in the various theatres of war while prospective foreign investors are becoming increasingly unwilling to come to the country. It is time the Muhammadu Buhari administration began to construe the unsavoury comments on its lacklustre performance in the area of security as a genuine and patriotic call on it to up the ante and deliver on the primary essence of government.