The signing into law of the amended Kidnapping Prohibition Law 2009 by the Edo State governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, must not have been a pleasant decision for the former labour leader-turned politician. The law prescribes death penalty for anyone who is involved in any form of kidnapping in the state.
No doubt the governor must have been frustrated by earlier efforts to make the criminals see the need to abandon their evil ways that visit misery, anguish and even death on innocent people who fall victim to their greed, as in their desperation, some of them kill their victims, even after the ransom they demand is paid.
Edo State and, indeed, Nigeria have suffered image problems as a result of the nefarious activities of these bad elements in the society.
While appending his signature to the bill, Oshiomhole noted his reluctance to get involved in matters of life and death. However, he observed that the over-riding public interest demanded that such difficult decision be taken if the society was not to descend to lawlessness and anarchy.
There is no gainsaying the fact that kidnapping has become a way out for criminally minded youths to acquire easy wealth. We empathise with the comrade-governor in this his last ditch effort to retrieve the state from the path of criminality that these agents of destruction had set it on. This is even as we note that such earlier measures against armed robbery did not quite eliminate that cankerworm.
In our opinion, kidnapping and, albeit, other forms of deviant behaviour are, in most cases, the effect and not the cause. Kidnapping, in its present dimension, we dare to point out, was an idea introduced by politicians to deal with their opponents. The youths from whose ranks these characters were recruited and armed by politicians for this dastardly activity are victims of circumstance. Jobless and desperate, they go for anything that would put some money into their pockets.
Because of the ease by which money started to come to them, they soon began to enjoy the crime and made it a profession, ignoring legitimate opportunities that came their way, because they were 'less lucrative' sources of income. Nothing, however, justifies the act.
We are yet to get the details of the law as to know its provisions for the sponsors of this crime, because the kind and calibre of arms and ammunition these bad boys and girls deploy in their operations cannot be affordable by jobless youths. It is our view that similar penalty must be meted out to the sponsors.
Beyond the death penalty, we make bold to suggest that the government, at all levels, should create an environment that will make criminality unattractive. The place to start is to check the lifestyle and concupiscence of politicians, as well as their inordinate desire to win elections at all cost.