Adetayo: Faulty criminal justice system impairs dealing with kidnap cases
Security consultant and Regional Vice President, American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) International Region 11A, Oluwaseyi Adetayo, in this interview with GERALDINE AKUTU, blames the country’s criminal justice system, which he said is making things difficult.
Daily, the fear of being kidnapped assails Nigerians just as heinous crimes against humanity are being committed in the country. What could be responsible for this?
There is so much poverty in the land, and a lot of people have lost their jobs. The per capita income of many has equally reduced drastically, and peoples’ capacity to meet their personal/domestic and social needs have been greatly impaired. Parents are also unable to meet up with their responsibilities thereby leaving many children to fend for themselves from a very early age. Consequently, children begin to fend for themselves early when they ought to be preparing for their future; they take up adult responsibilities, which they are not prepared for, and they tend to become desperate to succeed because they are not motivated by their parents’ lives hence they go into vices in order to make money.
Dignity of labour no longer means anything to these children because they did not see that in their parents. Since their parents are failing, they are of the view that by all means they have to make money in order to avoid walking the path that their parents did. Their brain is wired to thinking that shortcut is the fastest way to get rich. And this is the reason that we are experiencing so much desperation in our society today.
Ritual killings are also on the increase in different parts of the country. Does this have to do with the get rich quick syndrome?
Before now, the shortest cut to riches was armed robbery. Later, people discovered that they could make more money through kidnapping. At a time, they believed that going into “419” business would yield more profit. However, as more people went into “419” business, it started getting saturated and returns started reducing. So, they needed to add more and that was how Yahoo Plus, that is, bringing voodoo into Yahoo Yahoo came into being. So, going into ritual killings was largely as a result of going the extra mile. I think this has contributed immensely to the high level of ritual killings in the country.
Lust for wealth and unemployment are some of the reasons suspects advance for getting involved in kidnappings and ritual killings. Should this dastardly act become an option for anyone even in the face of unemployment?
It shouldn’t be, but the moral fabric of the society has been lost. Now, we celebrate fame, affluence, wealth, as against good character, good name, honesty and honour. When a child does something wrong and is punished for it, he or she would sit up, but if the child is not called to order, he or she would feel that being upright doesn’t matter and would continue to do the wrong thing.
So, the question to now ask is, how many interventions have people in our society made to condemn people with questionable character and strange wealth among us? Have we bothered to sound them out and find out where and how they got their money? Instead of doing these, these people are praised by musicians; they are invited to government functions and even sponsor politicians, and when they succeed or get into elective positions, they give their praise singers contracts. This is just a reflection of the moral decadence in our society.
Gradual loss of humanity is cited by some experts as the reason wanton killings is taking roots in the country. Where did we lose this as a nation?
I think we lost it over time. Not long ago, I read about two brothers who cut off the head of a 10-year-old boy for N200, 000. Snuffing life out of another person’s child is the height of wickedness and evil because every human life should matter. We used to live in a society where a lot of thinking used to take place before taking any step that could affect the life of someone else remotely could be taken, especially because of the repercussion. But that appears not to be the case any more. Today, people don’t have conscience and don’t care anymore. Before, there was fear for human life and there was sanctity of life, but now there appears to be no value for human life.
In your view, are our laws stiff enough to deter people from contemplating such crimes?
There are stiff penalties, but the truth is that our criminal justice system is faulty. Our problem is enforcement. Typically, when people commit offences and they are charged to court, and it takes 10 to 15 years to try a murder case, for instance, the person might be freed because before the matter is dispensed with, he might find a way of escaping to another country. The prosecuting officer could also die; could be transferred out of the station, or could even go abroad for further training. If any of these scenarios crop up, after four or five adjournments the court could strike out the case and the suspect could be set free or given a mild punishment.
On the other hand, the suspect could remain perpetually in detention and after a while is released again into the society. These are the kind of people that would be bold enough to recruit more people to cause mayhem. It is important we divorce prosecution from the police and let the Ministry of Justice or Office of the Attorney General prosecute and let the Nigeria Prison Service handle the imprisonment.
Some civil society groups are in favour of a law that would make kidnapping punishable by death without any term of imprisonment. Is this asking for too much?
It is not asking for too much. This request has gone to some states Houses of Assembly. Quite a number of states have passed these bills into law, but what they did was to include a clause that says, ‘if life was lost in the process’ then death penalty applies, but if life was not lost, then the suspect would spend 25 years in prison upon conviction.
To what extent should law enforcement agencies bear the blame for the soaring rate of violent crimes, including kidnapping and ritual killings?
In part they can be blamed, but we’ve seen cases where they’ve actually done well by rescuing the victims alive, arresting and prosecuting the suspected kidnappers. Also, we have seen cases where victims failed to give the police reasonable and useful information in order to enable them to carry out their operations as a result of fear or threat to their lives.
It appears law enforcement agencies only record successes when prominent people or their relatives are abducted?
When a prominent person is kidnapped, it makes the news and pressure is mounted on security agencies to deliver results fast. Consequently, it is likely going to be a fast catch because if they succeed, it would also show the world their efforts and capability.So, it is true that such attracts news headlines faster.