The harrowing experience, anguish and bitterness of heart experienced by the thirteen families in South East Sunday 4th September, 2022 when members of their families were kidnapped on the outskirts of Isuochi town in Abia State, on the stretch of road between Umuaku in Isuochi and Owerri Ezukala Orumba South L.G.A of Anambra will not easily be forgotten by these families.
Kidnappers armed to the teeth with AK 47 and other dangerous weapons in broad day light around 3:00 pm laid siege on the road and began to pick whoever passed that route and keep them at gun point around the bush and come out for more people to kidnap Unsuspecting nearby villagers thinking the ordeal was over wave on other travelers on the road only for them also to be kidnapped by the gang of Fulanis and joined with the others already held hostage till they got about thirteen people, twelve men and one woman.
Then their journey cris-crossing the bushes of Southeast, from the bushes of Owerri-Ezukala in Orumba South L.G.A of Anambra State and Umuaka in Isuochi L.G.A of Abia State to the bushes of Umulolo in Okigwe L.G.A of Imo State from 3:00pm Sunday to 12:00 noon next day Monday when they eventually got to the kidnappers den inside that bush. A victim who revealed this to hotline Nigerian news.com on condition of anonymity said the only lady among them slipped the kidnappers cordon during the night along the trail.
“Several millions of Naira was milked from the families of the twelve of us men that got to their hideout, to secure our release. They said we must now pay for their cows our brothers killed. They arranged with our families on phone on where and how to get to the bush to drop the ransom. In fact they refrained from informing us which of our families has paid until they collected the ransoms of all of us before they let us free around Umulolo junction – a stone throw to the military garrisoned at Okigwe in Imo State Wednesday night , he disclosed and wondered aloud if the sound of the AK 47 and Kalashikovs riffles the hoodlums shoot in the dead of the night do not reach the military that seemed to have very visible presence within the area of operation of the kidnappers.
This was a reecho of the same accusation raised by the prelate of Methodist Church of Nigeria, His Eminence Rev. Samuel Kanu- Uche who was kidnapped within the same area the other day together with his Chaplain Very Rev. Abidemi Shittu and the Bishop of Owerri Rt. Rev Dennis Mark and for which the Methodist Church was said to have paid a ransom of N100 million to secure their freedom. The prelate had observed that military men were around the place where the kidnappers operated but the Army quickly absolved themselves of complicity. But one cannot help feel the sense of loss of the people of South East, Nigeria and Benue who are accusing the Nigeria Army of having abandoned them.
And you cannot help but have this sense of loss deepen when you recall the prowess of the Nigerian Army led coalition that restored peace in Rwanda during the Rewandan genocide and Liberian skirmish through ECOMOG but seem incapacitated in their own home-Nigeria. What has really gone wrong with the Nigerian Army which even has to pay ransom to bandits to secure freedom of their personnel abducted by bandits who had stormed the elite Nigeria Defense Academy Kaduna recently in broad day light.
Are they handicapped by their chosen mode of operation? The Nigerian Armed Forces love being in charge. Unlike their counterparts in Western democracies, who carry out their duties diligently behind the scenes away from the limelight, the Nigerian Armed Forces not only love being seen, they insist in being heard as well and this hampers their ability for proactive and effective handling of Nigerian’s security challenges entrusted in their hands now. Take for instance their arrest of victims of the kidnapping incident two weeks after they were released by their Fulani abductors at Umulolo Junction – Okigwe in Imo State from their homes in gestapo style at dead of the night.
One of them whose aged mother had come to commiserate with his son, God had delivered from the Lion’s den, all were commanded by the army to lie face down including the aged mother and whisked away to the military barracks at 2:30am in the morning like common criminals accusing the man that his phone was being used to extort money from people. In the morning when they gave the man paper to write his statement and he pulled off his shirt to show them evil stripes from the hellish beatings and machetes cut he sustained from the Fulani kidnappers, and revealed to them that he was the victim rather than their supposed hoodlum. That to avoid detection, the kidnappers had used the victim’s phones to contact and negotiate their ransom from their families. The army then began to apologize when they realized their mistakes and confusion. But this shameful act could have been avoided had the army acted when the negotiations were going on back and forth.
Then they could have traced the exact spot the calls were emanating and catch the kidnappers in the act instead of waiting a whole two weeks to engage in the faulty James Bond act after the kidnappers have varnished with their millions in ransom money.
Recall that in October 2020 an American Pastor, 27 year old Philip Waltson was kidnapped by six men armed with AK 47 assault rifles that arrived on motorcycles at his home in Southern Niger’s Massalata village early on Tuesday morning. The perpetrators of this heinous crime appeared to be from the Fulani ethnic group. By Friday United States Special Forces including Navy seals executed a daring night time operation to rescue their fellow American with exceptional skill, precision and bravery. No US troops were hurt in the operation that Friday night but several of his captors were reported to have been killed.
Those who drummed into the ears and got the former President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GCFR) to commence Sim Card registration may have envisaged this type of escapades to use Data by our security outfits to deter kidnapping and other forms of violent crimes that hold our nation at the jugular. But lack of cooperation, information sharing, poor intra-agency communication among our different security outfits and relevant agencies of government may derail this noble effort.
Insecurity has no border, therefore now is the time for South East Governors to convene a special governors meeting to deliberate on the heightened state of insecurity in the region, to among other things co-ordinate activities of our security outfits and the networks to hammer out a coherent, speedy and timely information sharing arrangements between the Networks and security agencies and help engender a responsive and reactive security mechanism to curtail all forms of violent crimes in our society and return sanity to our region . Find out from Miyetti-Allah that is moving around some of our Governors seeking greater freedom for their herdsmen, what the Fulani Alhaji and his 25 gang of kidnappers are doing in the bushes of South East – Nigeria.
The kidnapper’s talk that they are kidnapping our people to recover money for their cattle killed by our boys is neither here nor there because earlier before now the Fulani have engaged in armed robbery along the Aba – Portharcourt expressway. Initially our people had thought the robbery incident on traders coming from Enugu to trade at Aba – the commercial city of Abia state were being perpetrated by our own people, until some of the victims stealthily looked closely at their assailants to realize they were being robbed by people of the Fulani ethnic group. They have only now reverted to kidnapping maybe because of the Millions they are reaping from it and because our criminal justice system around kidnapping seems to be lax. The administration of Criminal Justice should be refined to show kidnappers that kidnapping is a death penalty. There must be strict punishment; otherwise there might be no end in sight. We have to know why hoodlums of the Fulani ethnic group (Ishmaelites) are coming after us. Is it not possible for us to follow their money trail by profiling some of those of them we feel are legitimate businessmen, who come to the banks with loads of Ghana must go bags of money, check their transfers, to know where these money go to. We can also catch them as they make calls with victim’s phones for ransom. If we are diligent enough one day something might gave them away for us to either catch them red handed during their kidnapping acts or from their bank transactions.
Your Excellencies, the Executive Governors of the states of south east Nigeria, we humbly plead that as the chief security officers of our various states, we cannot stand by while these our brothers come South to kidnap our people to fund their war for totalitarian Islam in Northeastern Nigeria. The need to hold a meeting to discuss these issues affecting our people has become more important now our President, Major General Muhammad Buhari (Rtd) who had stood aloof while Nigerians were killed, maimed, raped, chased away from their ancestral homes, farms has eventually chosen his foreign partners who will help him fight terrorism and banditry in Nigeria. Of all the countries in the world, the country Nigeria’s President Buhari has chosen to help him fight insurgency in the Nigeria is Iran.
Iran whose 1979 constitution states that the army and the Revolutionary Guards Corps “will be responsible not only for guarding and preserving the frontiers of the country, but also for fulfilling the ideological mission of Jihad in God’s way; that is extending the sovereignty of God’s law throughout the world”. This was after Iran Islamic Supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini and his followers succeeded and crept Islamic theocracy into Iran by carrying out murderous purges to rid themselves of political rivals and imposed actual regime change founded on the principles of Islam as a total state that emboldened other Islamist movements
of possibility of actualization of the movement’s ideology of enthroning Islamic governments based on the principles of Sharia through Jihad across the globe.
“Iran’s revolution, declared Ayatollah Khomeini, is not exclusively that of Iran, because Islam does not belong to any particular people. We will export our revolution throughout the world because it is an Islamic revolution. The struggle will continue until the calls there are no god but Allah and Muhammed is the messenger of Allah is echoed all over the world”. As Iran’s constitution commits, the regime to expanding the sovereignty of Gods law throughout the world, over the years Iran has made good on the mission of exporting its Islamic revolution by means of Jihad especially through her support for Hamas and Hezbollah in training, financing and provision of weapons and safe havens to non-state militant actors in the middle east and elsewhere across the world that have culminated to terrorist attacks that have claimed thousands of lives. The only time Iran combats terrorism is when its national interest are affected.
Except ISWAP that has a different religious belief – follows the Sunni branch of Islam and believes that Islam is a religion of the sword not a religion of peace and aims to annihilate the shia, the official religion of Iran as it considers shias to be apostates – will Iran go to war against moslem brothers that have same religious belief with her.
Buhari’s choice of Islamic foreign powers to fight insurgency Nigeria, his secret donations to Taliban in Afghanistan, his SUV car gifts to Niger Republic after years of seemingly aloofness while Nigerians are daily killed, raped and kidnapped by Boko Haram, ISWAP, Bandits and separatist elements and his outright refusal to name those sponsoring terrorism in the country has clearly shown where he stands. A fundamentalist Islam to the core, President Buhari has not learned that nothing surpasses the greatness or dignity of a human person, and for that reason men of goodwill must stand up every time that human life is threatened by murder, kidnapping, rape, economic injustice or any form of exploitation, and this was why Jefferson said that the “care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the just and only legitimate object of good government.”
The key to resolving economic, political, cultural and ideological conflicts is justice. And justice is not complete without love of neighbor. This reconciliation is not weakness or cowardice. On the contrary, it demands courage and sometimes even heroism: it is victory over self rather than over others. We must never see it as dishonor.
Albert Einstein once noted that “God does not play dice with the universe”. The Almighty is doing a great thought experiment with Nigeria. Ours is a high and noble destiny. But there are no guarantees anywhere. We cannot realize our destiny unless our country is reinvented as a free and prosperous democracy anchored on a bona fide rule of law and social justice. We must find love for one another or die.
By Nworah Maduabuchi.