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Shobo: Sustained kidnappings robbing us of foreign direct investments

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The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Seagul Security Company, Colonel Shobo Nojeem (rtd), who also teaches Security Management and Strategy at the Department of Psychology, University of Lagos, told GERALDINE AKUTU high rate of unemployment and contribute immensely to kidnappings in the country.

Kidnappings has become endemic in the country. What are the factors that make this possible?
Kidnappings is endemic simply because the rate of unemployment is high. People don’t have jobs and the government has refused to create jobs for university graduates, even non-graduates are jobless. It is unfortunate that people in this country are not looking for what they can do for Nigeria, but what Nigerians can do for them. As a result of this, young boys are on the streets, especially in Lagos State, where we have “Area Boys,” “Omo oniles,” and other unemployed youths, whose major occupation includes, trailing people to their homes, shopping malls, supermarkets and spas, and once there is an opportunity they strike, or kidnap people for ransom.

In addition to this, the peculiar democratic system of governance that we run is part of the problem that we have because it makes the political class to make provision for thugs and area boys, who follow them about. These are some of the reasons why kidnapping has become endemic.

In other words the motives behind kidnapping are many, but largely rotate around survival?
Factors that influence kidnapping like I pointed earlier are poverty, joblessness, and political thuggery. In this era of technology and globalisation, some disgruntled people do not want to work, but rely on scamming people electronically – Internet fraud as perpetrated by youths better known as Yahoo Yahoo. When they are not faring well, or are not making progress, they resort to kidnapping to get quick money from them.

Many still do not see factors like economic hardship, political and moral decay as contributory to the rising trend of kidnapping?
Like it or not, these factors have contributed greatly to kidnapping in the country. In fact, economic hardship has contributed largely to so many kidnapping, assassinations, terrorism and coercion.

In 2016, Control Risk, a United Kingdom-based consultancy that tracks kidnapping cases globally ranked Nigeria fifth in the world of kidnapping, just behind Mexico, India, Pakistan and Iraq. What are the immediate and remote consequences of attaining such infamous heights?
The immediate and remote consequence is that investors would stop investing in the country and potential ones would be discouraged. Look at what happened in Kaduna State recently, where four foreigners were kidnapped, and it was not the first time that foreigners in the state were being kidnapped. In the course of the kidnap, we lost two policemen. With scenarios like this, no foreign investor would be interested in investing in Nigeria. Even Nigerians who want to invest are not going to expose themselves in order not to become targets for kidnappers.

On the whole, kidnapping affects the economy in more ways than one, especially if the government cannot provide jobs and the foreigners that are ready to invest and create jobs are being kidnapped, then they will keep their money and won’t even come around.

Are there ways that individuals expose themselves to kidnapping?
Yes. You as an individual can expose yourself to kidnapping. About three years ago, we were in a local council in Edo State, where bankers were always being kidnapped, on a security survey and risk assessment on why some of these things were happening. While there, we discovered that the bankers were competing with themselves in cars; they were showing off with assorted cars and suits. So, we advised them to keep a low profile and within seven months things changed for the better. There were no cases of kidnapping again in that place. Ostentatious lifestyles, flamboyant dressing, inadvertent talking, and giving so much information about one’s self on social media all expose one to the risk of being targeted by kidnappers because these criminals are always monitoring the system and those who expose themselves are seriously at risk. Evans the suspected kidnapper told us he got most of his victims from Facebook posts.

Death penalty put in place by some states for kidnappers appears not to be enough deterrent. Why is this so?
It can’t work because most state governors have not signed approvals for condemned criminals to be put to death. So, most condemned criminals are still languishing in prison yards, and before you know what is happening they would have been granted state pardon. In the days of Anini and Co, as well as Oyenusi and Co, the governments took radical action and the spate of robbery was stopped. But as at today, no state governor has signed the death warrant for offenders and execution carried out.

Do you think the federal and state governments are doing enough in this regard?
They are doing enough, but resources are not enough. You cannot see government security agencies everywhere because they can’t cover all the areas. Most of the places that there are crises today ten years ago you would not have believed that such would happen there. But today, you cannot leave Birnin Kebbi to go to Sokoto by 7pm. Also, you dare not go from Gusau to Zaria by 7pm. Look at Zamfara State that people used to go and relax, but if you enter the place now as a holidaymaker you may be kidnapped. Even their farmers are no more farming; most of them are farming just to feed their families.

In Lagos State, the bulk of people riding commercial motorcycles are from the North. Places in the past that used to serve as food baskets of the nation you can no longer find food there easily today.

As an expert, what effective ways would you recommend to government to end the menace?
Government cannot end kidnapping just like that because it has become a trade at a time when most youths are not employed. So, I recommend that government provides jobs for youths because it is not enough for government to put police on the streets to curb crime. If you put policemen out there to curb crimes, it won’t solve the problem because some of these young ones don’t mind being killed because the government that should create jobs for them is not doing so. So, these crimes will continue until jobs are created. After jobs have been created, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) should create awareness and warn people on the bad side of kidnapping.


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Shobo Nojeem
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