Government officials and lawyers in Nigeria have proposed tougher laws to curb frequent occurrence of kidnapping in the countryn with death penalty being suggested.
KIDNAPPING — A SOCIAL PROBLEM IN NIGERIA
Kidnapping has become a social problem in Nigeria as criminal gangs in different parts of the West African nation are holding citizens hostage for ransom.
The Cameroon-based African Insurance Organization (AIO) said kidnapping has become a monster.
“Nigeria is now the kidnap capital of the world, accounting for a quarter of globally reported cases,” the AIO said.
The NYA International, a United Kingdom-based global risk and crisis management consultancy, placed Nigeria on top among the five countries with the largest numbers of cases of kidnapping in the world between January and June 2015.
Another United Kingdom-based risk-control consultancy, which tracks kidnapping cases globally, said Nigeria has risen to the fifth position in the world in terms of kidnapping, just behind Mexico, India, Pakistan and Iraq.
The deadly Islamic insurgency in the North and militancy in the Niger Delta seem to have fueled this degeneracy.
In April 2014, Boko Haram terrorists captured 276 schoolgirls in the town of Chibok in the country’s northeastern state of Borno.
A total of 57 girls managed to escape over the next few months after they were abducted and 21 were freed in October 2016, but nearly 200 girls are still in captivity.
With the recent suspension of the pipeline operation mostly in southwest Nigeria, the criminals no longer had access to the oil money and they resorted to terrorizing other citizens.
Abdullahi Chafe, the police chief in Kogi State, said kidnappers now target elderly people with well-to-do children outside the state and compel their children to pay ransom.
Crime rate has reduced by about 70 percent in the state as kidnapping and armed robbery no longer take place on highways but in individual homes, said Chafe.
The stop-and-search security measure and other security strategies introduced by police to improve security of the state has paid off handsomely, he said.
Medical doctors, for unknown reasons, are prime targets. Early this year, doctors reportedly embarked on a strike in southern Rivers State to protest against the incessant abduction of their members.
Public figures were also major victims of kidnapping in Nigeria with several cases reported in 2015 and 2016.
The latest case was Margaret Emefiele, wife of the Nigerian Central Bank Governor, who was kidnapped early this month with four others on Benin-Agbor road in southern Edo State.
In September 2015, Olu Falae, a former secretary to the Government of the Federation, was kidnapped in his farm in southern Ondo State.
In April 2016, Iyabo Anisulowo, a former senator, was kidnapped in her home state of Ogun, which is located in the southwestern part of Nigeria.
The two have since regained freedom after spending days in captivity, but the conditions under which they were released remained unclear.
While the police claimed to have rescued them, many victims and their families have been paying ransom without calling the police.
Security analysts believed that the situation requires radical and creative countervailing measures.
Akeem Gbadamosi, a security expert, said the Department of State Services needs to step up its intelligence activities on kidnapping.
TOUGHER LAWS PROPOSED AGAINST KIDNAPPERS
In a move to tackle repeated cases of kidnapping in Lagos, where about 20 million people live, a private member bill sponsored by the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, seeks death penalty for kidnappers.
Obasa condemned the trend of kidnapping in the state, saying that the kidnappers should be punishable by death penalty.
Those who engaged in the crime were not fit to live, said Obasa.
The bill comes after two cases of kidnapping in the state in which gunmen stormed schools and kidnapped school children.
The children in both cases have been released by their abductors.
The bill prescribes that any person, who kidnaps, abducts, detains or captures, or takes another person by any means, or tricks him or her with the intent to demand ransom, is liable on conviction to a death sentence.
Attempt to kidnap attracts life imprisonment, while false representation to release a kidnapped or abducted person, under Section 4, attracts seven years imprisonment, the bill stipulates.
The bill also provides that any person, who knowingly or willfully allows or permits his premises, building or a place belonging or occupied to which he has control of, to be used for the purposes of keeping a person kidnapped is guilty of an offence under the law.
Such a person can be sentenced to 14 years in prison without an option of fine, according to the bill.
States like Abia and Anambra, where kidnapping was once rife, adopted tough measures with laws imposing death penalty on kidnappers and mandatory demolition of the properties of kidnappers.
Richard Komolafe, a lawyer from the United Action for Change, commended the move for stiffer penalty for kidnappers, but said that death sentence was no longer fashionable all over the world.
Komolafe said hanging itself is inhuman by conventions as against life imprisonment.
Seri Sholebo, a Chief Magistrate in Lagos State, said it was fundamental to add conspiracy to kidnapping, as the ministry had not been able to convict offenders of conspiracy since 2011. Enditem