KIDNAPPING IN NIGERIA: ISSUES AND SOLUTION
1.1 Background to the Study
Kidnapping has recently been a historic issue in the Federal Republic of Nigeria and other parts of the world and good governments are doing as much as they can to ensure that the kidnappers are captured and punished. Kidnapping is abducting and holding anybody captive, typically to obtain a ransom. At times, kidnappers hold their captives longer in order to demand more from the relatives of their victim. The current situation in Nigeria could be likened to an inferno drawing both the old and the young; the rich and the poor; and the local and the international communities to itself. Some jobless youths now see kidnapping as a lucrative business they can venture to without minding the possible implications it has on the nation. This is evident in the recently nabbed criminal known as Evans (Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike) who is proved to be a billionaire in the kidnapping business. No one is safe anymore. Every day, tens of Nigerians are kidnapped for various reasons ranging from economic, political and personal grievances. Some are killed before they were rescued while others are rescued by their relatives after paying ransom. The first case of kidnapping for financial payments occurred between the year 1999 and 2000 when Niger Delta criminal gangs abducted expatriate oil workers and made demands for payment of huge ransom. Since then, the criminal business of kidnapping people for ransom has become a nationwide occurrence. The act can be traced back to the series of foreign oil and construction workers as well as the series of attacks on the oil facilities by militants in the Niger –Delta region of Nigeria. Since the beginning of this criminal act, kidnapping, Nigeria has recorded huge losses in crude oil. This has made many Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to spring up in Nigeria. One of such is ‘Erukaye Hope’, a non-governmental organization based in Delta State. Many have and are still making effort to obstruct this criminal business.
Kidnapping is all over Nigeria. It is a national problem that has eaten so deep into the tissues of the nation. It is a problem that must be tackled nationally. Kidnapping is growing daily in Nigeria. This criminal commerce paints an ugly picture of the already battered image of Nigeria. This kidnapping racket has become incurable disease. Kidnapping has become a life threatening ailment. For example, one can arguably say that there is no month in Nigeria when we do not read on the pages of newspapers about cases of kidnapping. Nigerians who are involved in this ugly business find it difficult to quit. Kidnappers now see kidnapping as a business that can never be stopped by any government in Nigeria. This is because the government of Nigeria is yet to take a bold step to find a lasting solution to this barbaric act. Once the government comes with a stiff action against the kidnappers, the idea of seeing the trade as a type coated with much profit would be a forgotten trade.
Many famous and rich men and women have been victims of kidnapping in the country. Among them are popular Nigerian actor, Pete Edochie, who was abducted at Afor-Nkpor in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State in 2009; first runner-up of Mr Nigeria pageant and Nollywood actor, Kenneth, was kidnapped in 2012 in Owerri, Imo State, with the kidnappers demanding N100 million. Another Nollywood actress, Nkiru Sylvanus, also tasted the bitter pill of kidnapping. A traditional ruler in Delta State had become a victim of kidnapping. He was eventually found dead after many days of captivity. The aged mother of the former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Professor Mrs. Okonjo, was kidnapped in Asaba, held captive for several weeks before she was released by the kidnappers after payment of undisclosed amount of ransom. The father of the former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, Pa Soludo, was kindnapped in Anambra State, held in captivity for several weeks before he was released, again, after payment of undisclosed amount of money. Even former President Goodluck Jonathan was not spared, as his foster father was abducted from his Otueke-home in Bayelsa State. Shettima Ali Monguno was kidnapped in Borno State, spent several weeks in captivity before he was released after payment of undisclosed sum of ransom. Three girls from the Babington Junior Seminary in Ikorodu, Lagos, were kidnapped, later found and rescued by a combined team of police, Department of Security Services agents) and the Army. Around mid-January 2017, kidnappers stormed the Nigerian Turkish International College, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Ogun State, and whisked away five pupils into captivity.
However, the Nigerian government has been trying to ensure that the rampant kidnapping incidences in the country are completely eradicated or reduced to a minimal level and also ensuring that the kidnappers or those behind the scene will not unpunished. This can be seen from the recent step taken the Lagos State Government by signing a law prohibiting kidnapping and that kidnappers upon being caught will be sentenced to life imprisonment and should in case the victim dies in their custody, they will be sentenced to death with immediate effect. The security and welfare of the citizens is the primary purpose of government and governance. Without the security of lives and properties, of contractual agreements between various individuals, society cannot exist, neither can government. The function of modern society and government is the protection of the constitutional rights of the citizens, security of lives and properties and full enjoyment of fundamental human rights.
There is the need to reform the legal and judicial system to ensure strict compliance with the relevant laws relating to kidnapping and related offences. The law must be seen to adequate, effective and has the power to sanction and/or punish without fear or favour without let or hindrance. Trial cases involving kidnapping should be expedited and publicized adequately. No secret trial involving kidnapping cases. The scourge must be exposed as an evil. But whether capital punishment is the ultimate goal of the penal system here or not, the important thing is that the guilty must be punished in accordance with the principles of supremacy and rules of law. We need to commend the effort of the judiciary particularly the Nigerian Police in recently nabbing the notorious billionaire kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, also known as Evans. Provision must be made to the effect that property of anyone found guilty of kidnapping will be confisticated and/or destroyed – as a form of social punishment.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Nigeria has turn to a playing ground of carnage, restiveness, religious violence and incessant kidnapping which discourage many people to have hope in better Nigeria or to have belief in promised changed. This study pointed that things have completely changed in Nigeria because the kidnappers determined celebrities and highly influential people to gain grand of huge ransom and those behind it are youth that supposed to be the leader of tomorrow but because of corruption, injustice, poverty and unemployment they are now kidnapping the leader of today as the only means of getting money to survive.
There is no gain in saying that mass-media has exhausted their tenacity in reporting the cases of kidnapping in Nigeria. Because the speed with which evil is growing in Nigeria and the merciless ways that lives of innocent ones are being wasted are worrisome. According to Omede, (2015) people are burdened on a daily basis with psychological and emotional trauma resulting from gory sights of lifeless and mutilated bodies of loved family members, close associates and colleagues littered on the streets, public squares and everywhere. Therefore, this is a case that we must collectively fight against in the country.
1.3 Research Questions
This research will be carried out to answer the following research questions:
i) what are the reasons for kidnapping in Nigeria?
ii) what is the prevalence of kidnapping in Nigeria?
iii) what are the measures being taken by the government to combat kidnapping in Nigeria?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is to investigate the issue of rampant kidnapping that is causing fear and unrest in the nation and how it can be tackled. However, the specific objectives of the study are: to;
i) to inquire the reasons for kidnapping in Nigeria
ii) to survey the prevalence of kidnapping in Nigeria
iii) to investigate the measures being taken by the government to combat kidnapping in Nigeria
1.5 Significance of the Study
This study sought to investigate the causes, effects and solutions for kidnapping in our nation. The solutions from this study, if it can be duly followed, will make kidnapping to become a thing of history in our nation.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study will cover every passionate and concerned Nigerian that is aware of any kidnapping issue or the other in the country.
1.8 Limitation of the study
This study sought to investigate the causes, effects and solutions for kidnapping in our nation. The researcher was faced with limited time in carrying out this research. Many respondents were not willing to give adequate information while few of them that have been victims of kidnapping in the past were afraid of responding to the research questions because of the fear of being kidnapped again.
1.8 Definitions of Terms
The following terms were used in the course of this study:
Kidnapping: This is an unlawful asportation and confinement of a person against his or her will.
Abduction: The action of forcibly taking someone away against their will.
Victim: A person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action..