Senate Approval of Death Penalty for Kidnappers: What about Treasury Looters?


There is a popular notion that Nigerian leaders are not proactive enough in attending to sensitive issues threatening national security. A recent example is the onslaught on the Agatu people of Benue by rampaging Fulani Herdsmen which reportedly claimed over 300 lives. It took the federal government over a week to issue a 'non-committal' press statement that condemned the undenied reprisal attack and a 'political promise' of fishing out the culprits involved in the blood-bath.

The next moment was a round of silence even from the Benue state government. It took the Governor of the state, Samuel Ortom over a week to make out time to visit the devastated Agatu land which is an agrarian community. The responsible security agencies in Nigeria consisting of the Nigerian army, police, Directorate of State Security, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and others allegedly went on recess giving us the impression that a covert investigative operation was in place until DSS shifted our attention to 5 Fulani men buried in shallow graves in Enugu, South-eastern part of Nigeria with the Biafra agitators strongly fingered in the criminal act. What about the perpetrators of the Agatu mayhem? That has become an issue of political brickbats used to score cheap points. It has become a viable issue for interesting political discussions on radio, television, newspapers, beer parlours and after that, nothing.


The snail-speed approach of the arms of government may not also be far from the factors that aided the successful abduction of over 270 school girls from Chibok in Borno state by Boko Haram insurgents in April, 2014. The bitter truth is that the lives of the common people don't count in Nigeria after all we have a population of over 170 million people which the government is already having issues in managing; so the smaller the better. The crowd are only needed during elections. In fact, their voter's cards are more important than them as it’s the only tool needed to legitimize a politician's inordinate quest for power.

The issue of death penalty approved by the senate for kidnappers is quite laudable and also very much laughable. It buttresses my points on how much the ruling elites want to stay alive as long as possible enjoying their loot at the expense of the common people. Senator Iyabo Anisulowo's kidnap for 7 days without food but water at the kidnapper's den was an audacious statement of abduction in Nigeria. The effrontery at which the former Ogun West lawmaker was successfully kidnapped by yet to be identified assailants was a bold statement for both the affluent, average citizens and the poor. The anomaly seems to be the only Nigerian problem favourable to the poor. They are as unwanted and unattractive to the over-ambitious kidnappers as Lassa fever. The average citizens like business owners and other established technocrats who have some coins to part with and can't afford massive human security around them have made God their Chief Security Officer.
As for the rich who are the main targets especially our public office holders, there is an urgent need to approach the issue head-on with the machinery of government before their homes become flooded with sycophantic sympathizers on their return from the abductors' camp; hence, the urgency in the approval for a death penalty for kidnappers in the country by the 'notorious' senate of the 8th assembly.

Kidnapping in Nigeria has been rampant overtime despite the efforts of the Nigerian police to clampdown on them. An early notable achievement of the 'Kidnappers Association of Nigeria', KAN was the successful abduction of the current honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige in 2002 which was heavily publicized due to his position as a governor then.
Since then, the menace of kidnapping has evolved slowly but unabated. A recent senate committee report on the menace of kidnapping by Senator Abu Ibrahim from Katsina South Senatorial district revealed that in just October, 2015, 108 kidnap and sea piracy incidents were recorded in 24 states involving 180 victims including 24 foreigners. A demand of a total of N85 million was made and the abductor ripped their victims of a total of N28 million in the form of ransoms. That's lucrative for any criminal-minded youth. Furthermore, a research by a DailyTrust correspondent in the area of kidnapping also revealed that  within 6 months of April, 2015 to September, 2015, 110 people were kidnapped and a sum total of N1 billion was demanded.

Some prominent individuals, celebrities in the Nigerian society have been monitored and targeted by abductors while others perceived to be comfortable by physical appearance on the highways have been randomly with huge ransoms paid. A few cases that were viral are that of Nollywood icon, Pete Edochie in August, 2009, Managing Director of God is Good Motors, Mr. GodGood Nlakosin who was killed by his abductors for unknown reasons, Nollywood actor, Prince Eke, Actress Nkiru sylvanus in Imo state, Samuel Oki a cousin of former President Goodluck Jonathan was kidnapped and later found dead, Chief Inegite Jonathan, President Jonathan’s uncle and foster father was also kidnapped, 86-year old, Prof. Kamene Okonjo who is the mother of the a former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was grabbed in the year 2012 in Ogwashi-Uku, Delta state, prominent Yoruba leader and former presidential aspirant, Olu Falae was kidnapped, Chief Gogo Lambert (Amanayabo Biokponga); a paramount ruler as well as Mrs. Rosemary Osahagolu, the Vice-Chancellor of Rivers State University of Education as well as Chief Asuquo Ekpeyong Ekpe, a brother to the immediate past Director-General of the Department of State Security (DSS), Mrs Toyin Nwosu, the wife of Mr Steven Nwosu, a top official of the Sun Newspaper, Nancy Dickson who is a sister to the Governor of Bayelsa state was also abducted, kidnap of three of the popular Orekoya kids by their nanny in Lagos, Nigerian entertainers, Blair and Clinton Roberts, popularly known as DNA Twins were kidnapped on their way to Lagos and several other cases that can’t be mentioned due to space factor.

Since then, the few successes and the huge ransoms paid by the families of the victims gave the needed boost to the 'kidnapping industry'. Several unemployed Nigerian youths with limited skills and below par ideas but massive ambitions ventured into this part of the labour market that was almost competing with the oil sector for quick cash. It was risky but they found it endurable after all, all jobs have their own unique kind of risks. The Nigerian society is a very vulnerable one with incessant cases of blind followership. The society is suffering from a disease I refer to as 'AFFS', in simple terms; Acute Follow-Follow Syndrome which means any successful antic whether reasonable or unreasonable could be replicated by another person without considering the motivations and circumstances surrounding the decisions of the first person. I will give a few examples to back up my view. In 2015, one Suleiman Hashimu, a 34-year old man probably unemployed decided to embark on a solidarity trek from Lagos to Abuja for President Muhammadu Buhari on his success at the presidential election which he successfully did. He received a royal welcome in Abuja and consequently, about 17 political lobbyists trekked in honour of several other politicians. What madness!

Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan also set a political trend through his famous call to President Muhammadu Buhari in concession of loss in the heated 2015 presidential election just before the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC made the official announcement. This again became a trend in Nigerian politics as Oyo state recorded similar peace calls including Kaduna, Lagos state and others.
 
Back to the menace of kidnapping, the assailants continued to heartlessly raid average Nigerians and since their popularity in the society wasn't encouraging enough to attract readership, the media ignored most of them.
Rumours have it that from the year 2015 to January, 2016, dozens of millionaires of both sexes from Festac Town, Amuwo Odofin area of Lagos state were quietly kidnapped and the abductors had the temerity of collecting the ransoms in dollars through foreign bank accounts namely in South Africa, America and London. The multi-millionaire Igbo businessmen ruling at ASPAMDA, Trade Fair Complex, Lagos were major targets due to their financial worth.

The porous nature of the Festac terrain made access easy for the assailants. This attack on the wealthy class in the Igbos-dominated area has led to the exodus of some rich men to more secure areas in Lagos.

The police and other security operatives have blamed the general public for encouraging kidnapping by attending to the financial demands of the kidnappers. This advice is deemed comfortable to give when you are not in the shoes of the victim's family. It’s he that wears that shoe that knows where it is pinching him. Onlookers can only admire while the wearer pretends all is perfect.

Only a bastard exercises patience and goes to bed peaceful at night when his loved one is in the hands of demons that have no conscience or value for human life.

Nigerian leaders have again lived up to expectations on self-centredness with the approval of death penalty for kidnappers as the abduction of Senator Iyabo Anisulowo was a wake-up call to the sleeping senators. It was a strange knock on the doors of their homes the wee hours of the day. It can also be referred to as a decrypted statement that the men of the underworld are closer than speculated. On the other hand, the advocacy for death penalty for treasury looters in Nigeria which has been on for years to treat the cancer of political corruption seems inconsiderable because the act of misappropriating public funds in Nigeria is endemic. The gender equality bill which is supposed to liberate the girl-child from the horny claws of paedophiles hiding under religious and cultural dogmas is also contemptible as the 'big men' will lose their unlimited access to fresh blood and skin for their pleasure.
Yet in this same senate, the bill for the amendment of the Code of Conduct Bureau Act was almost passed in a record speed of 72 hours with the sole aim of crippling the ongoing trial of Senate President, Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

Our senators need to draw a cue from medicine and surgery in dealing with the issue of kidnapping. A Medical Doctor in the treatment of a cancer patient cuts off the affected part to prevent a future spread or contamination of other delicate body areas. Without this, ordinary treatments will be ineffective. Kidnapping, armed robbery, drug trafficking, human trafficking, internet scam and the likes are concomitant effects of the magnitude of criminal acts perpetrated with the power of the pen behind the closed doors of government offices.
They are the side-effects of the Dasukigate of $2.1 billion, the CCTV scam of $470 million, the 're-looting' of Sani Abacha's loots, the diversion of $7 billion worth of crude oil to neighbouring countries in a year, N195 billion Maina pension scam, $6 billion fuel subsidy scam, police pension fraud, power project scam, Central Bank of Nigeria's backdoor recruitment, crude oil lifting scam of N3.1 trillion and several other cases of fraud which have culminated in the underdevelopment of Nigeria.

Nigeria has become a death trap for international investors. The World Bank Doing Business Report of 2016 says Nigeria remains one of the poorest business destinations in the world improving marginally just by one step since last year. We lack the adequate infrastructural facilities majorly electricity, good roads, widespread rail system and others. Nigeria as a country is ridden by balance of payment deficit meaning we tend to import more than we produce. The local goods are so inferior to us that we even import what we have at our backyard.
Apart from its by-product which is the murder of the naira, we don't have a viable economy that could give jobs to the 2 million Nigerians that join the labour force in a year. Higher institution graduates are being churned out in thousands every year with very few decent jobs that could compensate for their sacrifices back in school, simply put underemployment. Not everyone is patient enough to join a praying church for better economic opportunities, or engaging in the indiscriminate sharing of CVs year in year out like it’s a sourvenir, or even become an emergency entrepreneur on a minute scale pending on when better opportunities emerge.

Nigerian youths with questionable tendencies are then forced to regroup for the survival-of-the-fittest mentality in the ecosystem. It’s called self-help; you take membership in the aspect of the crime industry where you feel you can function best. The ones with the lion heart and unflinching quest for fast money will take to armed robbery or kidnapping. Their hearts will be filled with hatred for the wealthy class over their failure to ameliorate their problems even when they don't constitute the government.
They see their leaders or politicians as traitors who have stolen their destinies. It becomes wild goose chase adventure in the recovery of a non-existent lost glory. Our leaders should have at the back of their minds that their failures will forever continue to haunt them either directly or indirectly. The issue of unemployment and poverty massively aided the development of the Boko Haram sect in the North-east that has been a thorn on the flesh of Nigeria for 7 years with over 20,000 people dead, properties running into billions of naira destroyed and over 2 million people displaced due to all manners of terror.

Most of our leaders today who wanted to desperately win political power and rape the treasury bought arms and ammunition for young men on the streets to disrupt elections and voting results in their favour after inducing them with money. Most of them after the assignment had issues retrieving the weapons from the miscreants. The guns are then being transferred from group to another in the society for crimes. This is a clear case of a dog that has tasted human blood; it will keep biting for more tastes and nourishment.

Some governors in order to aid their process of robbing the people blind have also refused to actively encourage formal and quality education in their states so that they can become unquestionable. This aids the process of buying people for political gains at very cheap costs as they can't see the light. The resultant effect is a breed of disoriented youths with awkward thoughts like the Niger-Delta Avengers blowing up gas and oil pipelines for the purpose of crippling the Nigeria economy solely to coerce the government of the day to do their bidding.

Corruption has led to a network of problems that are too intertwined for a simple solution. A death penalty should be approved for treasury looters too in order make stealing unattractive and change the mentality of generations to come as the act of looting now takes the front-seat in our perceptions of leadership even though we mostly fail to admit. Cutting the branches of the fig tree is not the solution as it will sprout again with time. There is a need to uproot it, so that its final death can be assured.

Several states in the South-south and South-east where the KAN industry is booming e.g. Edo, Bayelsa, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Calabar, Imo and Kogi (South-west) have approved death penalties for kidnappers but what is the resultant effect? Kidnapping syndicates are still in business and putting in tough fights against security operatives to avoid the ultimate penalty of being apprehended. Unconfirmed reports also have it that no prosecuted offender has been executed since the promulgation of this law which questions the integrity of the judiciary and its agencies.

As long as the society condones corruption due to the belief that one day tables will turn and it will be your turn to steal, the less-privileged youths will keep devising means to 'tax' the loot of public officer holders by their own indiscriminate terms.

If our leaders at this rate continue as 'enemies of the society', this might degenerate to the heads of prominent politicians being sold at open markets with interested buyers.




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About Osayimwen Osahon George

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