3 abducted sons: Father refuses ransom demand of N30m

Kidnapping: Choice, Necessity or Evil?


Muhammed Usman took a bus from Gusau to see his family at Dangulbi, a small farming community about 50 kilometers away. After 20 minutes drive, a gang of 18 members suddenly started shooting at the travelers from the front and rear end of the vehicle for several minutes.


By Abdu Abdullahi

Kidnapping: Choice, Necessity or Evil?


Muhammed Usman took a bus from Gusau to see his family at Dangulbi, a small farming community about 50 kilometers away. After 20 minutes drive, a gang of 18 members suddenly started shooting at the travelers from the front and rear end of the vehicle for several minutes.

Usman grabbed a child who sat next to him and crouched down beneath the seat covering him with his body. As the gunfire stopped, Usman found that the child had died in his arms. ‘The bullet struck his head’ he told TRT World Magazine. Sadly, his beloved mother also died as a result of the gunshots. As one of the surviving commuters in the vehicle, he was whisked away to the forest by the kidnappers where he was tortured and dehumanized before he was set free.

According to the Voice of America {VOA}, a thirty-two-year-old Olumide Peter was returning from an evening class at the International Institute of Journalism in Abuja when several men hijacked his car and took him away. ‘I tried to maneuver myself to open the door; they overpowered me. They hit me with a spanner (wrench) and some vehicle tools and immediately a guy came out with a gun. He said he’s going to kill me’. The kidnappers reportedly held Olumide for days and tortured him until an unknown amount of money was paid to secure his freedom.

Aminu Magami, a taxi driver, froze in extreme fear when more than 20 gunmen stormed an expressway one night in February 2019 shooting into the air. One of them ran towards his car as the road was blocked. ‘I just sat there and raised my hands begging them’, Magami said. He was later taken hostage in his native Zamfara state, where he was held captive and tortured for nearly a month.

In criminal law, kidnapping is the unlawful transportation and confinement of persons against their will. It is also imprisonment by means of abduction. The horrible incidents of kidnapping in Nigeria have largely occupied the vast land, culminating in bloodletting, economic devastations, psychological upheavals and national disaster. Currently assuming a lucrative but dangerous business venture, it is attracting mainly the youths. Hardly a day passes without a reported case of kidnapping across the country.

According to the Bulwark Intelligence Analysis, road kidnaps have recorded the most incidents because kidnappers prefer to strike where insecurity is weakest in transit. Only few kidnappers have the capacity to breach security at work sites and residences. The report further reveals that the South South region records most kidnap incidents on Mondays, while Tuesdays and Thursdays witness high frequency of kidnap cases in the South West. Fridays are mainly associated with the criminal act in the North West as most commuters travel for weekends.

The Bulwark analysis also shows that 56 percent of recorded kidnap incidents occurred during the hours of darkness (6.30 pm-7.00am) while 44 percent took place during daylight hours (7.00am-6.30pm).

In the first quarter of 2019, there were 685 reported cases of kidnapping, an average of seven per day. This gloomy picture was presented by the Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu. As of last year, Zamfara state alone had the highest national kidnap rate with 287 victims in what had been linked to the activities of bandits in the state. At the local government level,  Birnin Gwari in Kaduna state emerged as the top kidnap local government area, probably due to the presence of thick forest there. In just one month (May, 2018), gunmen kidnapped 87 passengers from several vehicles along the Birnin Gwari – Kaduna highway in Kaduna state.

Kidnapping is so lucrative that it metamorphosed into what is called self-abduction. For instance, there was the case of a self-abduction organized in which a married woman was arrested when she arranged to get herself kidnapped in order for her husband to pay a ransom which she would collect and  share with her accomplices.

As mentioned from these horrible and other unreported tales, life in Nigeria is no longer guaranteed on roads, in schools, at places of work and residences for both the nobles and the common people. If you are on transit, you risk your life to the marauding beasts. Our schools are unsafe for our innocent children. Recall that many of the abducted Chibok School girls since April 2014 are still at large and this is afflicting the conscience. These deadly and cowardly gunmen are gradually occupying the vast land of Nigeria, exhibiting their murderous atrocities, spilling blood at will and spreading fears in the minds.

It is unanimously contested that abject poverty is the major factor behind this despicable and wanton phenomenon. Are we then paying for the huge price of our national predicament? Are we learning any significant lessons from this theater of tragedy? Is kidnapping in Nigeria a choice, necessity or evil? If it is a choice for the perpetrators, then it is a wrong choice for which they shall live to regret, will definitely pay the price one day and the society is the greatest casualty. If they consider it a necessity to improve their economic well-being, they are dealing with a necessary evil which promises the nation a befitting doomsday. For the troubled nation, it is indeed an evil designed to foment great despair and torment our social, economic and psychological being.

In our frantic efforts to diagnose the causes of this harmful act, we must redesign our political psychology to suit the political philosophy of the late Abdullahi fodio who presented two types of politics, just and unjust politics. According to him, just politics is the restoration of the rights of the weak and the oppressed while unjust politics is the opposite of just politics. It is greatly incumbent for the political class to deeply look into the manner of its politics and governance to shift ground from self-aggrandized approach to people’s oriented option. Will the youths subdue their restiveness when they can’t make ends meet in the wake of squandering of riches perpetuated by most members of the political class? It poses a great challenge to the political class that insecurity has been on the rise since the advent of this current democratic dispensation.

A popular philosophy has it that the only security on earth is opportunity. The referred opportunity here is the type that will open the door for mass employment of the youth whose ambitions are ever growing and can’t understand why national resources should be allowed to be cornered by a few. When opportunities are provided to the people, there will be security through the rapid development of a just and egalitarian society where everybody will feel a sense of belonging, possess economic potentialities and the devil’s workshop will summarily be defeated. As long as the government will continue to prioritize misplaced priorities, we should expect more security risks across the land. No government can overcome security when its policies are detrimental to creating opportunities. No matter the huge money that will be invested on security, it will not yield the desired result until that money is converted to investment venture that will provide jobs for the unemployed. It will be a great patriotism if the National Assembly will use that 37 billion naira meant for just renovation to create opportunities for the unemployed youths across the country.

We often forget causes of events and concentrate only on the consequences. Let us apply the theory of Reverend Jessy Jackson who constantly reminds us, ‘Peace is not the absence of noise but the presence of justice’. Impliedly, when justice is denied it can be a possible cause of kidnapping and other forms of insecurity.  A typical case of study was the gruesome murder of the late Boko Haram leader Mohammed Yusif. For more than a decade, the ghost of insurgency has denied us peace as a result of that extra judicial killing.

To curtail the menace of kidnapping and other forms of insecurity, the government can try the develop mentalists’ Basic Needs Approach Method’. This is especially relevant for Third World countries that are prepared and possess the political will to get out of poverty. It can be a lasting solution to the prevailing kidnapping. In a nutshell, the model emphasizes the provision of the basic socioeconomic needs of the individuals.

While the dangerous game of kidnapping is gradually enticing the vulnerable youths who see it as both choice and necessity, it is indeed a great tragedy for our nation!

Abdu is from Galadanci Quarters,Ringim Jigawa State

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