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New wave of kidnappings amid botched naira redesign policy

By Odita Sunday, Abuja
18 April 2023   |   4:40 am
Nigerians have again been thrown into fear following the resurgence of kidnapping in parts of the country following the lifting of the ban on old naira notes.

Kidnap victims

Nigerians have again been thrown into fear following the resurgence of kidnapping in parts of the country following the lifting of the ban on old naira notes.

During the financial squeeze, cases of banditry and kidnapping went down. But that has since changed since the Central Bank of Nigeria complied with the Supreme Court directive to release money into the system. Following the development, no fewer than12 residents of Grow Homes Estate, along Kuchibiyi in the Kubwa area of Federal Capital Territory were kidnapped by gunmen, few days ago.

The gunmen, in their numbers, reportedly escaped into a nearby bush, which separates the community from another village.

The FCT police and the estate security are still combing bushes in search of the victims.

Also five days ago, terrorists reportedly kidnapped about 80 young people fetching firewood in a bush.

The incident occurred in Wanzamai village about 8 a.m. on Friday. It plunged the village into panic and confusion, as virtually every household was affected.

On March 10, 2023, the Zamfara Police Command dislodged bandits’ camp and rescued 14 kidnapped victims in Zamfara, who had spent days in captivity. The list is endless.

Some persons had believed that the recent cash squeeze had helped to reduce kidnapping and ransom-taking by armed men.

One of such persons is a security consultant, Christopher Oji. He said: “The resurgence of kidnapping after the scarcity of naira was expected, only that our security agencies are not always proactive. Even a layman on the street, expected what we are witnessing today. The new trend can be traced to the big blow that the redesign and scarcity of naira dealt on criminal elements, especially kidnappers.

“Now that there is money, they have resumed their nefarious activities to make up with what they lost during the period of naira scaricty. Kidnappers and other criminals believe they will continue to make money; so they spend money recklessly, they did not remember rainy day. The naira redesign took them unawares, they are now trying to recoup. That is why they have come out in full force.”

He recalled that on Thursday, three children of the same parents were abducted in Lagos lamenting that there is fear everywhere.

He blamed kidnapping on the fact that many people are jobless.

He said: “Government should, as a matter of urgency, look into the issue of unemployment and address it, frontally. Government should also stop paying lip services to the issue of security and provide the services with what they will use to function. It should unite our security agencies so that work in synergy.

“They should see the issue of security as everyone’s business. I think the best solution should be state police; let every state take absolute charge of its security instead of relying on the FG to provide them with security.

“These kidnappers do not live in the moon, but with us. The National Orientation Agency should go into the streets and educate the people on why they should not harbour criminals in their midst and where to report criminal cases.”
But the President of, Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA), Emmanuel Onwubiko, said kidnappings for cash payments never abated since the crime against humanity started.

According to him, there have been unresolved cases kidnapping that happened even in the last one year that the armed forces and police have not solved. He said the cases are still active and were not forgotten with the introduction of the “not so well thought out naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“The kidnapping of schoolgirls from Kaduna, Yobe and Kebbi states have all not been resolved and these cases have been around for over a year before the CBN introduced the unnecessary cash squeeze that nearly crumble the economy and destroy many small businesses that require cash on daily basis for sustenance such as those who sell foodstuff.

CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele.

“The argument that the naira redesign policy changed the momentum of kidnapping for ransom payments is not correct because there are evidence to show that terrorists in the North East and North West were seen brandishing the new naira notes at a time it was so difficult for genuine businesses to get them.”

According to him, what has actually happened is that as the cash squeeze came up, the kidnappers rebranded and decided on other ways of obtaining ransom such as collecting the ransom in dollar-denominated currency and other means.

He maintained that cases of kidnapping have continued unabated, attributing it to ransom payment and the failure to apprehend and punish those behind the heinous crimes.

“Kidnapping has become a big business for rogue soldiers, police and DSS officials, who must be identified, arrested and executed by firing squads for this kind of crime against humanity to stop.

“There were proven cases of collaboration between soldiers and Fulani kidnappers in parts of the South East and around the highways connecting Enugu State to Okigwe and Port Harcourt, such as those kidnappers, who abducted the then Prelate of Methodist Church.

He quoted the Prelate as saying that soldiers, who spoke Fulani, aided and abetted kidnappers on that Enugu-Okigwe and Port Harcourt Highway, just as there were other cases of connivance between soldiers and kidnappers along the highway connecting Nsukka to Benue State. He cited the abduction of the former Commissioner for Health in Enugu State, as an example.

“It is clear that either some security chiefs are generating revenues from kidnapping or do not have what it takes to clinically finish off these hardened criminals, who have managed to work out a neat partnership between them in the underworld and the operatives of the armed forces of Nigeria, who have gone wayward due to lack of professional supervision on the part of their commanders.”

He lamented the failure to carry out forensic investigations to ascertain men of the armed forces, who are part of the networks of kidnappers in the country. According to him, the anomalies exist because the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, lacks the political will to combat crimes. He accused him of not doing enough to rein in renegade soldiers, policemen, DSS officers engaged in kidnapping for cash payments.

“The cases of kidnappings have been spiked also because the justice delivery system is weak. These cases when taken to court are not treated with the urgency they deserve. Prosecution pursued in such a shoddy way that punishments that would be imposed by courts against the criminals and kidnappers are not anywhere near what they should get such as the capital punishment.

“How on earth will cases of kidnapping of human beings for ransom on gunpoint be treated with levity? This is why these kidnappers are motivated and emboldened to escalate their attacks against soft targets.  Nigeria needs to get it right from the angle of identifying those in the armed forces that are part of kidnapping and then those identified should face firing squads without mercy.

“Those caught for kidnappings should face the death penalty and the execution of these sentences should be swift and decisive to have the right deterrent effects.”