Demystifying amnesty calls to bandits and kidnappers
Sir: Nigeria has been notorious for ethno- religious, communal, political conflicts. Of late, banditry and kidnapping have become a menace in Nigeria forming part of the predicaments confronting and distorting development progression in Nigeria.
Subsequently, kidnapping for ransom has become part and parcel of insecurity problems of Nigeria today. Coincidentally, it is part of the inhuman criminal activity that has escalated over the years alongside other insecurity challenges of communal clashes, ethno religious violence, terrorism, activities of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), Odua People’s Congress (OPC), militancy and herdsmen/farmers crisis, cattle rustling, and cult and gang war. Particularly, these are manifestations and purveyors of insecurity in Nigeria hinged on proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) in the country.
Regrettably, banditry and kidnapping have snowballed into hostage taking of school children, travelling passengers, traditional rulers, village heads, and ransacking of communities. The Kankara Government School students in Katsina and the Kagara Government School students in Niger state, as well as the Jangebe incident in Zamfara are about the most recent examples. And these bandits and kidnappers operate in different groups. Meanwhile media reports have it that some of this bandits and kidnappers are affiliated to Boko Haram and other Islamic militia groups operating in the northeast in current dimension.
What is gaining currency now is that kidnappers and bandits should be given amnesty by the Nigerian state. The controversial recommendation, being spearheaded by Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has further divided Nigerians as those opposed to it call to question the rational. Gumi, the main proponent of amnesty equated banditry and kidnapping to the pipeline vandalism and other violent activities of Niger Delta militants who struggled against oil pollution and underdevelopment of host communities by both the Nigerian state and oil companies.
However, how can amnesty be justified in societies with divergent moral, ethical, social, cultural, religious and political orientations? If persons and groups that society considers their actions criminal and murderous get pampered after contradicting the laws of the land, what happens to law abiding citizens that have been victims of such criminality?
In moving forward, and for the cries at hand to be mitigated, our understanding of national security is “measurable state of the capability of a nation to overcome the multi-dimensional threats to the apparent well-being of its people and its survival as a nation-state at any given time, by balancing all instruments of state policy through governance, that can be indexed by computation, empirically or otherwise, and is extendable to global security by variables external to it”. Therefore, ensuring the assertion that “as development increases, conflict decreases” is practical. And when this happens, “the peace space expands, while the violence space contracts.”
Meanwhile, it has been observed that crime and criminality are likely to exist and thrive in society where the leaders are not doing enough to alleviate the plights of the people. This is the time to act against the character of post-colonial state in Africa evident in Nigeria; unnecessary resource looting and wastages that ordinary should be used to provide critical infrastructure for the citizenry.
Adefolarin A. Olamilekan, Political Economist & Development Researcher.