Amnesty International’s appeal to President Bola Tinubu to address the rising kidnapping cases in Nigeria as an emergency resonates with our call to eradicate this menace, which has extended from the Northwest to the Northcentral and from the Southeast to the Southwest. It is time for state governors to swiftly enact and enforce death sentences on those orchestrating abductions for ransom. Such individuals deserve to face the ultimate consequences for their heinous acts.
Between January 8 and January 15, 2024, bloodthirsty kidnappers have demanded over N1 billion as ransom. These individuals, who deserve elimination, abducted Alhaji Mansoor Al-Kadriyar and his children from their home at Zuma 1, on the outskirts of Bwari town in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, on January 11.
Initially, they demanded N60 million, which the family raised through crowdfunding, only for the kidnappers to increase it to N700 million. Unfortunately, one of the Al-Kadriyar sisters has already been killed because the family could not meet their demands.
Barrister Oladosu Ariyo is also a still victim and mourning the tragic loss of his 13-year-old daughter, Folashade, who was killed by kidnappers. The family could only gather N7,000,000 out of the N60,000,000 demanded by the abductors.
On Sunday evening, January 7, 2024, around 7:30 pm, his wife and four children were abducted by the evil-minded individuals dressed in full military camouflage. The incident occurred when they invaded their residence at Sagwari Layout Estate in Dutse, Abuja.
Similarly, at least 45 passengers in three 15-seater buses were kidnapped in Orokam along the Otukpo-Enugu Road in Ogbadigbo Local Government Area (LGA) of Benue State, on Thursday, January 11, 2024. The abductors are demanding N135,000,000 as ransom.
On January 13, 2024, criminal gangs armed with sophisticated weapons abducted the Chairman of Ukum Local Government Area, Benue State, Rev. Gideon Haanongon, along with his personal assistant, driver, and security personnel. As of the time of publication, their whereabouts remain unknown.
The preceding years were challenging for kidnapping victims. According to SBM Intelligence’s report titled “The Economics of Nigeria’s Kidnap Industry 2023 Update: Follow the Money,” 3,620 Nigerians were abducted between July 2022 and June 2023. During this timeframe, abductors demanded N5 billion or $6,410,256. The intelligence outfit stated it could confirm N302 million in ransom payments.
In September 2023, Mathew Abo, the Commissioner of Information, Culture, and Tourism for Benue State, fell victim to a kidnapping incident. His abductors demanded a ransom of 60 million naira for his release after kidnapping him in Zaki Biam on September 24, in the presence of his family members.
The two years leading up to Muhammadu Buhari’s handover were the most disastrous, with 5,287 and 4,680 abductions in 2021 and 2022, respectively, according to ICIR.
It was in 2022 that fearless, gun-carrying terrorists abducted seven high-profile Nigerians from the AK9 train service on the Abuja–Kaduna route. Daily Trust reported that N800 million was delivered to the terrorists before they were released.
This sum is separate from the millions of naira the kidnappers collected from other victims after intercepting a moving train on March 28, 2022. It’s a stain on Nigeria, where the political class moves around with a platoon or higher security formations.
In 2020, 2,879 Nigerians were kidnapped, and 1,421 people fell into the hands of kidnappers in 2021. The actual figure may be higher because these incidents are underreported.
Regrettably, only a few Nigerians are aware that the kidnapping sector has produced a few billionaires due to the government’s failure to align their words with actions.
For instance, a notorious kidnap kingpin, Chukwudi Dumeme Onuamadike, aka Evans, during his arrest on June 11, 2017, told security authorities that he had collected not less than $4 million (worth N5.2 billion in today’s exchange rate) in ransom from four of his high-profile victims between 2015 and 2016.
Similarly, another notorious kidnapper, Collins Ezenwa, aka ‘E-money,’ before meeting his fate on January 27, 2018, collected $2 million from an Enugu-based politician, Tochukwu Okeke.
While Boko Haram and IPOB terrorists are wreaking havoc in the Northeast and Southeast respectively, kidnappers are also on the rampage across the country.
What happens if families, who have chosen not to report or speak due to fear of reprisals, now decide to speak up? Nigeria is, indeed, in a state of war.
As the International Non-Governmental Organization puts it, “The current epidemic of kidnapping highlights the utter failure of the Nigerian authorities to effectively protect lives.”
The era of the president calling for security meetings with security chiefs without results should come to an immediate halt. The time for action is now.
The president should end the era of granting amnesty to killers for the love of Nigerians who grieve over their missing or killed loved ones. The security forces must show no mercy to kidnappers and terrorists who continue to add more pain to Nigeria’s business climate woes.
Tinubu must not allow the incessant kidnappings that pervade the Muhammadu Buhari regime to continue.
The best way to discourage crowdfunding for the release of kidnap victims is for security forces to swiftly respond to incidents of abductions.