13 December 2012

Nigeria: Kidnapping With Impunity

Photo: This Day
A gang of armed men has seized 83-year-old Kamene Okonjo, left, mother of Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.


On Sunday, Professor Kanene Okonjo, the octogenarian mother of the Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was kidnapped at her country home in Ogwashi-Ukwu in Delta state by armed men numbering about ten.

Also, on Tuesday, Titilayo, the wife of General Oluwole Rotimi (rtd), was abducted in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital by yet to be identified gunmen. These two incidents, and there are many more that will not get any media mention, that occurred within a space of 72 hours, signposts the appalling security situation the country has descended to.

We are convinced beyond all reasonable doubt that the nation's security system has collapsed. The security apparatuses no longer believe in gathering and sharing of intelligence. The brazen manner with which these hoodlums operate underscores this fact. We want therefore, to incline to the school of thought that posits that there is a nexus between the perpetrators of these heinous crimes and the security agencies.

Take for instance, the two police officers detailed to man the residence of the Okonjos both left their duty posts when the incident occurred. It is a curious coincidence. When Chief Bola Ige, the then attorney-general and minister of justice was murdered in his residence, all the police officers guarding him said that they went to have their supper!

Curiously, anytime there is a kidnapping incident, the security personnel always elect to act as the go in-between between the family of the victim and the kidnappers. The ransom paid by the family of the kidnapped to secure the release of the victim or the sharing formulae was never made public.

It gives cause for serious worry that with security gulping over one Trillion Naira of the annual budget, the security situation continues to deteriorate. The real worry however, is the impunity with which these hoodlums carry out these dastardly acts.

Definitely, this new wave of kidnapping will have negative impact on the yuletide season, especially in the South-East and South-South zones of the country where these incidents are more pronounced.

It is high time the Jonathan's administration stopped paying lip service to securing the lives and properties of the citizens. The president swore to defend and uphold the spirit and letter of the Constitution of the Federal Republic; one of which provisions is the security of lives and property of the citizenry.

Obviously, Nigeria will definitely not be the investors' destination with this level of insecurity we are experiencing. There do not seem to be an end to the Boko Haram insurgency that has left the economy of Northern Nigeria prostrate. And in the South, a combination of kidnapping and crude oil theft, is asphyxiating the economy. The Jonathan administration must stand up to its responsibility no matter what it takes.

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