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Kidnapping-for-ransom, killings, herdsmen/farmer’s conflict characterise year

By Tobi Awodipe
28 December 2019   |   4:20 am
As the year 2019 comes to an end in days, it goes down as a year of immense security issues for the country. Being an election year, it witnessed crime of all kinds at an increased...

{FILE} Suspects paraded in Jalingo, Taraba State, by the Police for involvement in kidnapping

As the year 2019 comes to an end in days, it goes down as a year of immense security issues for the country. Being an election year, it witnessed crime of all kinds at an increased level such as kidnapping for ransom, armed robbery, politically motivated murders, bloody conflicts and clashes, herdsmen and farmers’ crisis as well as Boko Haram killings, amongst others.

In the first quarter of the year, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, disclosed that 1,071 persons lost their lives in crime-related cases across the country. Confirming that kidnapping for ransom was alarming this year, Adamu said that between January and April, at least 685 persons were kidnapped across the country. He said the figure was higher as some people who were kidnapped or had their loved ones kidnapped did not contact or report to the police, preferring to deal with the kidnappers themselves.

According to statistics obtained from the Nigerian Police, Zamfara State recorded a lot of killings during the year, topping the national prevalence rate while Kaduna State followed very closely. In February, over the course of two days, about 150 people were murdered in Kajuru Local Government Area (LGA), hours before the general election. Benue State followed Kaduna with the highest number of killings and, according to the police, most of the murder cases recorded in the North were linked to banditry and communal violence.

On kidnappings, the IGP said 546 or 79.8 per cent of the national total were recorded in the three northern geopolitical zones. He said the highest zonal prevalence rate occurred in the Northwest and at least, eight people were kidnapped daily. Kidnappers demanded anything from as low as N50, 000 to millions of Naira as ransom, depending on the financial resources of the victims.

Abba Kyari, who heads a special unit fighting kidnappers, noted that in the past abductions were traced to militants in the south agitating against oil companies or the Islamist militant group Boko Haram in the north but that today, kidnapping people for ransom had become a lucrative business of sort as anybody could be kidnapped no matter how lowly placed, so far as some ransom could be paid for the person.

The Kaduna-Abuja expressway became a den of kidnappers where travelers were targeted and taken away in daylight. It became so bad that travelers, frequently, abandoned the road, resorting to the use of trains. Kyari revealed that at its height, the road had at least 10 kidnappings daily with 20 different groups operating on the route.

After several weeks of being held by his captors, the police in a shoot-out rescued an in-law of President Muhammadu Buhari who was kidnapped from his home in Daura. Saifura Hussaini Ahmed Khorsa and Hauwa Mohammed Liman were kidnapped as they sought to help pregnant refugees in Rann, a small town in Borno that used to be a camp for IDPs. The camp was attacked in January, many were killed and Khorsa and Liman were abducted before being murdered and footage of the murder put on the Internet.

A couple of months ago, Port-Harcourt in Rivers state was thrown into mourning as bodies of young ladies were discovered in cheap hotels and motels, having being raped and tied with a white piece of cloth. Eventually, the police arrested and paraded Gracious David-West who confessed to killing 15 women in different Port-Harcourt hotels.

Just last month, Salome Abuh, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) women leader of Ochadamu Ward in Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi State, was murdered in post-election violence that gripped the state before, during and after the gubernatorial elections. Her home was set ablaze while she was asleep, leading to her being burnt beyond recognition.