Logical solutions to kidnapping in Nigeria
It is not uncommon for Nigerians to interchangeably use the word kidnap with the word hostage. Without wasting much time, and to keep it simple, kidnapping refers to a confinement without holding the legal authority to do so, while hostage refers to a person or entity which is held by a captor as a security. The word kidnap is associated with the activity in which a person is taken away usually against the person’s will. This is usually done for ransom.
Child kidnapping has become a threat to many countries in the world, especially in Nigeria, as children are innocent and viewed as easy targets by kidnappers. For instance, in July, 2021, about 140 students were kidnapped from a Baptist high school for ransom in northwest Kaduna. Also, in September 2021, about 73 students were abducted from a state-run high school in Zamfara’s Maradun district. Furthermore, it is traumatizing to even imagine that children are unsafe in their place of learning. It is also important to state that kidnapping for ransom in Nigeria cuts across all groups and classes of people.
I have identified five major solutions to the challenges posed by the crime of kidnapping in Nigeria. First, establishing effective border control for all of Nigeria, especially in the North. Second, provisions of a reliable and unique identification number for each individual, for tracking social benefits other identification purposes. Third, curbing corruption within and among Nigerian law enforcement agencies. Fourth, creating a better relationship between the locals and Nigerian law enforcement agencies. The fifth solution, and chief of all my logical solutions is cutting off the logistics of kidnappers in Nigeria.
One of the major security challenges that the Nigerian states are facing in its fight against terrorism, and ransom kidnapping to be specific, is that Nigeria borders Niger Republic and Chad in the North, with Niger Republic and Chad bordering Libya in the south. Since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi on October 20, 2011, there are a great deal of guns, arms and ammunitions circulating the sub-region. This factor, coupled with the high rate of unemployment and jobless youths in the sub-region, are migrating into Nigeria, using their weapons and the slight combat training they acquired to create insecurity in Nigeria by kidnapping Nigerians for ransom.
It is important to state that this foreigner cannot be successful with their operations, without the support of some Nigerian citizens themselves. Commodore Jamila Malafa, the director of legal services in the Nigerian Navy has alleged the Chadian soldiers of selling AK47 guns to Nigerians for as low as twenty dollars as a result of the lack of armories in Chad and Niger Republic. These countries have received arms and ammunitions donated by the developed world to aid in counterterrorism. Top Nigerian military officers have also suggested that the Nigerian government may need to build walls and implement other security measures to secure the borders in Northern Nigeria.
It is unfathomable that Nigeria is still faced with the challenges of consistently identifying Nigerian citizens. Many efforts with little success have been made to solve these identification issues, ranging from the National ID card, bank verification numbers, voter registration cards, driver’s license and now the National Identification numbers, also known as NIN. The ability to properly identify citizens will also give way to weed out illegal immigrants who cannot properly identify themselves.
This has worked effectively in advanced countries of the world in their fight against crime. For instance, in the United States, your information is attached to your Social Security number. It is worth mentioning that the identification numbers are not for identifying criminals alone – it can be used for social benefits, such as assisting Nigerian citizens during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are many allegations and convictions of corruption within and among Nigerian law enforcement agencies. This single act makes Nigerian citizens lose confidence in their law enforcement agents. Some of them have been accused of stealing money that was allotted to buy arms and ammunitions to fight terrorism in North-East Nigeria, while others have been alleged of selling and lending arms to criminals.
If the corruption within and among the few Nigerian law enforcement agencies are tackled, the problem of terrorism and kidnapping for ransom are a quarter of the way dealt with. This will in turn restore the confidence in Nigerians by feeding law enforcement agencies the necessary information to tackle kidnapping for ransom.
It is important to state that many Nigerian law enforcement agencies are doing the right thing by putting their lives on the line, but unfortunately, bad news spreads faster than good news. Whichever way you look at it, they deserve to be thanked for their service.
With my experience in the United States of America as a police officer, police work is difficult without the support of the community or the locals. The fact is that most crimes are not committed in the presence of an officer, it is the community that often gives important information to the law enforcement agencies that makes the police work easier.
In relation Nigeria’s present situation, the Nigerian government should establish dedicated community policing, therefore creating a better relationship with the local traditional leaders, religious leaders, youths, and other social organizations within communities in Nigeria. By doing so, it will aid in curbing the problem of kidnapping in Nigeria as trust is established between the community and with law enforcement being consistent and available when kidnapping incidents arise.
Lastly, the chief of all my logical solutions is to cut off the logistics of the kidnappers in Nigeria. This sounds simple and weird right? It is an indisputable fact that the logistics of the kidnappers are still flowing, allowing them to continue to carry out their nefarious acts of kidnapping for ransom. The more money that they make, the more sophisticated their weapons will be, and the more the kidnapping business will attract the younger generations. It is essential to note that the Nigerian government under the current administration locked Nigerian land borders in 2019, with security being a major reason for closing the borders.
This act was aimed at cutting off the logistics of terrorism in Nigeria, which include kidnapping for ransom. It will be subjective to justify that it had no positive effect in cutting at least some of the logistics of terrorism in the country, however – this government was focused on international logistics. I will call the attention of the law enforcement agencies on the local logistics – examples include understanding how the kidnappers get their supplies, how they obtain food and water, arms and ammunitions, telephones and other means of communication, how they gather information about their victims, and means of transportation.
In summary, as a logistics officer in more than 18 countries, I strongly believe that if all the aforementioned logistics to the kidnappers are cut off, that will be the end of kidnapping for ransom in Nigeria, as it will aid Nigerian law enforcement agencies to capture criminals that are about to commit these acts within Nigeria. It is also important to emphasize that cutting off the logistics to kidnappers alone is not the only solution to end kidnapping for ransom issues in Nigeria.
Successful solutions include combining effective control of all the Nigerian borders, especially in Northern Nigeria, while providing a reliable and unique identification number for each individual. As mentioned before, curbing corruption within and among Nigerian law enforcement agencies, and creating a better relationship between the locals and the Nigerian law enforcement agencies will aid in decreasing the incidence of kidnapping for ransom.
Terrorists are constantly changing their tactics in sources for income, creating fear and anxiety in Nigeria. The Nigerian government and law enforcement agencies must quickly adapt to these terrorists’ tactics by changing strategies so that Nigeria can be a peaceful place to live.
Oseni writes in from email@example.com.