Kidnapping not yet ‘digital’ - The Gallant News


Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Kidnapping not yet ‘digital’

  Kidnapping not yet ‘digital’


It’s hard to know how much the live drama that played out last weekend in Kaduna will affect the tempo of deliberations on the so-called Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Bill 2021 currently in the works in Nigeria’s upper legislative house.

By the way, that ‘live drama’ is the release of the 14 remaining abducted students of the Greenfield University, Kaduna after 40 days in captivity. Call the altercation a sight to behold: a group of exasperated parents/relatives of the abductees telling the security agencies and government officials to back off as they scampered to take the rescued team for medicals! The same officials that were nowhere in sight while their 40-day ordeal lasted? Absurd!

To those who do not yet know, that Bill on terrorism prevention also under reference, sponsored by Francis Onyewuchi, the distinguished senator from Imo, and which has since scaled through second reading, seeks to make ransom payment a felony punishable by no less than 15 years in jail! Interestingly, while as it seems unlikely that the bitter-sweet aftermath of the release of the Greenfield 14 will faze the bill’s sponsors one way or the other, we might as well take that development as one among the many absurdities of our time – part of the tragedy of living in the Shitholia republic.  And while the Bill or thoughts of any such thing would be the last thing on the mind of the distraught parents/relatives in those 40 agonizing days and nights; think of a government that practically abandoned those young Nigerians when it mattered most coming to mouth some meaningless mumbo jumbos to convince that we still have a functional government in place!

Home at last! We must of course thank God for granting the prayers of countless Nigerians for the safe return of those hapless young Nigerians. And then of course the parents and relatives for being resolute even when the odds were stacked against them, and, for standing up to the distraction of a do-nothing government. How can one forget the five that were butchered by those savages even when frantic efforts were being made to engage the outlaws? Or even the male warden whose life was also brutally terminated in the course of the abduction?

How much was paid as ransom? It really would not matter whether it is N150 million or N180 million. What matters is that these young Nigerians are now reunited with their families. I watched some of the parents tell the story of how they sold valuable property to meet the kidnappers’ demands; how they had to put up with the absence of soothing words from the leaders in those dark, terrible days including the insensitive taunts by officials who sought relevance by talking.

Now that their ordeal is somewhat over, the rest of us can look back in time to look at the issues more closely. Rather than wallow in pitiable disbelieve in the face of outlandish manoeuvres by a band of relatively unsophisticated loonies, we can now take on the task of asking the difficult question of how the intelligence/security services of the supposed African giant has been reduced to a little more than company of the local Boys Scouts movement.

Like in every successive cycle of abductions, the impression had all along been conveyed that the nation was actually dealing with an extra-terrestrial enterprise and so requires a little more than science and technology as we know it to root out. And then the other notion of the existence of a vast ungoverned space in the Nigerian territory, not only removed from the orbit of governance but far beyond the reaches of the security forces! Until Sheik Abubakar Gumi went into the deep forests (?) to draw out the outlaws, some Nigerians could have sworn such reality actually exists; that the country was dealing with some extra-terrestrial beings with UFOs providing both logistic and reconnaissance support. And that they reside in some imaginary bunkers borrowed into the earth far below the prying eyes of modern satellites and with parallel communications network to boot!

Thanks to the cleric, we now know that such notions are patently exaggerated. The first revelation is that these individuals are really not extraordinary.  Although consigned to the fringes of society and so have grouse with the rest of the orderly society, they are, more than anything driven by the filthy lucre – or more appropriately greed.

Of course, they have the technology – crude at very best, to carry on their heinous business. Sure, they are fairly well armed with AK-47, RPG and the likes; beyond that, they have just the barest of tools to ensure their human cargoes, sometimes numbering hundreds are effectively and efficiently evacuated as against a modern, supposedly mobile and sophisticated army that once boasted of being among the best on the continent. And then of course, their ultimate weapon – they stoke fear!

So where did the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Police Force, the Department of State Security, and the motley of other agencies get it so wrong that the army of the so-called African giant cannot move massively and decisively against the rag tag army? That is where the puzzle lies! And that is where the revelations from the Greenfield abduction rankle.

Let’s assume for the purpose of argument that the parents actually pandered to the entreaties of the abductors not to cooperate with the security agencies; would this have also stripped them of the basic but statutory duty of mapping out the territories for eventual onslaught once the abductees were out of harm’s way? Are we to believe that none of the agencies have been able to evolve a credible insight into the operations of the kidnappers? Again, where is the place of intelligence in all of these?

It seems one great irony that distraught victims would appear more trustful of their tormentors than both their government and the security agencies – one instance of shredding of the social contract! Although unfortunate, that appears to be one lesson that has emerged from the Greenfield University tragedy!

Moving on, the other fact that we know about the ordeal of the parents/relatives was that talks were going on forth and back during this period; even more is that various sums – in cash – were delivered at various times – until what became the final haul of N50 million was delivered. Of course, the currency of exchange was the naira – our beloved but now abused naira. Is it really true that the security agencies could not have found a way, no matter how clandestine, to follow the hefty sums after delivery?

Back to the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Bill 2021. Rather than seek to punish the victim – which the Act– is all about, why not better put the burden of cracking the Gordian knot of kidnapping on those charged with the business of securing our collective peace? Truly, kidnapping may have gone industrial; it has not gone digital – yet. Which means that a lot can still be done to curb it using the tools of science.

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