The rate at which kidnappings occur in Nigeria is becoming something of a national embarrassment. No day passes without the sad news of persons kidnapped in gruesome circumstances. Today, any body, including students and children, considered worthy of attracting a ransom is a potential victim.
As result of this, many Nigerians are becoming victims of marauding kidnappers who forcibly take people as hostage, while demanding payments for their freedom. Despite the hues and cries against this heinous crime, it has continued to grow in leaps and bounds. Of great concern is that all shady characters now exploit it as the simplest way of making quick money.
Just recently, some people kidnapped wife of the Central Bank Governor, Mrs. Margaret Emefiele and demanded money for her release. Before the nation could grapple with the consternation, another kidnapping took place at the Lagos State College, Igbonla Epe in Lagos State. Those kidnapped were, the Vice Principal, English teacher and four students. The history of kidnappings is traceable to the days of the Niger Delta militancy by members of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and other groups in the region. The militants however concentrated their energy on kidnapping expatriates who were engaged in oil exploration and exploitation.
Probably, the well publicised huge ransom extracted from families and associates of their captives drew the attention of criminal minded Nigerians who felt that kidnapping was a lucrative crime. At the last count, Nigerians of different occupations have become victims of kidnappers. These include journalists, musicians, Nollywood artistes, comedians, artisans, traditional rulers, clergy, sportsmen and women, politicians as well as security agents. Paradoxically, while the government continues to wage a relentless war against terrorists in the Northeast, kidnapping is gradually becoming another monster to grapple with.
There are indeed palpable fears that if the present spate of kidnappings is not contained it may have negative consequences on the socio-economic development of the country. More worrisome is that foreign missions have continued to warn their nationals, resident in the Nigeria and those intending to visit to take the security problem in the country into consideration.
No doubt, observers are of the view that the spate of kidnappings in the country is borne out of frustration and anger occasioned by the economic downturn which has resulted in millions of ordinary citizens, especially youths, without jobs and any meaningful means of livelihood. What is, however, very clear is that increasing kidnapping is a law and order failure. Indeed, it is a poignant reminder that the police and the other security agencies have not sent a forceful message on what awaits the perpetrators of such a most heinous crime. No doubt, kidnapping has assumed an epidemic proportion and for any person irrespective of status, creed, or religion to be abducted so cheaply in any part of the country, is unacceptable.
That Nigerians of all walks of life as well as foreigners have continued to be abducted underscores the fact that the security apparatus in the country needs to be overhauled. The infiltration of all sorts of arms shows collapse of the security system. It is time, government wake up to its responsibility of safe guarding the citizens.
No government worthy of its name should fold its arms without doing anything to curb such national malaise. Therefore, we call on government to brace up to securing lives and property in the country, as no one is immune to kidnapping.