Kidnap-for-ransom: Amid growing network of mischief, laxity will do no good

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The report of the abduction of three worshippers in Obada Oko, Ewekoro local government area of Ogun State from a Cherubim and Seraphim Church, along the Railway station in the early hours of last Sunday, 24th October, flags the red signal giving expression to threats of the kidnap-for-ransom menace that now lies before the State among others within the South-West region. The victims, who were whisked away by the unknown gunmen, had a condition-change for them from a vigil in the aforementioned church to the den of kidnappers. Like the modus operandi of kidnap-for-ransom charlatans, the gumen have laid charge for N6million as ransom to release their captors.

The spate of kidnap-for-ransom cases taking toll in the South-West zone is increasingly posing threats with the potency to give sour sensations to the narratives of security profile in the region. It has become glaring that the extension of the menace to the South-West may be finding the force of trial to establish its footings in the region. While the North-West recently has been enmeshed in the kidnap-for-ransom menace, and the South-South has had footing links to the menace in the wake of the Niger Delta struggles for amnesty, the South-East has had its fair share of kidnapping of various sorts. The North-East and some parts of the North-Central, have had the scourge of terrorism and insurgency ravaging social fabrics. However, while the South-West cannot be said to have ever been free from security challenges, the toll of kidnap-for-ransom incidents may be giving newer outlook to the narratives of the profile of security challenges in the Country.

It has become noteworthy that the estate of kidnap-for-ransom has grown with extensive orientation which has seen the menace extending its strings of discomfort across the Country. The metabiotic character of the menace has seen the phenomenon extending its network by space and time. The replication of the menace from the South-South to the North, and the perpetrating move into the South-West has become a subject of a national discourse, calling for concern. The toll of the incidents within the South-West has begun to picture a state where there are gaps which may permit the menace to register its foothold in the region, and thus further worsen security profile in the Country.

Most recently, was the report of the abduction of the Coordinator of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), in Odogbolu local government area of Ogun State, Olamilekan Okunuga, by unknown gunmen, who were demanding N30million in exchange for his release. The Youth leader was reportedly kidnapped on Thursday, 14th 2020, on his way from Ibadan, around Ogere in Ikenne Local Government area of the State. Report has it that his car was abandoned by the roadside as the kidnappers whisked him away into the forest. Last month was the case of the shocking report of the abduction of Air Vice Marshal, Sikiru Smith (retd.), by masked gunmen in the Ajah area of Lagos State had hit the ground. Lagos which is not too known for such high profile dimension of the menace may have been caught unawares as  Smith, who is a cousin to a former Inspector-General of Police and current Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Musiliu Smith, was reportedly supervising work on a site in the Ajah area of Lagos State on Monday 27, September, when the masked gunmen invaded the site shooting sporadically, after which he was whisked away in a waiting speedboat and sped away after his struggle with the gunmen failed.

Kidnapping in Lagos neighbourhood, Ogun State, have recently been generating traffic. Suspected Fulani herdsmen who abducted a pregnant woman, and two other victims in Ogun forest recently, had subsequently demanded N10million each for the release of the victims.  The victims were reportedly kidnapped penultimate Sunday along the Igbo-Ora-Sokoto Road while going to visit their friend in the Abeokuta-North Local Government Area of Ogun State. It was reported that the kidnappers laid ambush for the victims around the area, known as Karigo. The kidnappers following the abduction reached out to the family members of the victims two days after (Tuesday 22) demanding N10m from each of them.

In Ekiti, two lovers abducted recently, less than a week to their wedding, had their plans disrupted as they only regained their freedom from gunmen, few hours to their engagement and wedding ceremony slated for Friday 24th and Saturday 25th, September. It was reported the two lovers were freed around Ayedun area of Ekiti State after payment of ransom. The duo reportedly became victims of the ugly development on returning from Ado Ekiti, the state capital, where they had gone to shop ahead of their wedding when they were abducted at a bad portion of the road along Ilasa Ekiti-Ayebode Ekiti Road in the Ekiti East Local Government area of the State.

With the demographic and geographic character of the South-West region, it is submissible that the entrenchment of the menace of the misadventure of kidnap-for-ransom would further exacerbate security challenges in the Country. The peculiar social orientation of the region has the potential to conjure metabiotic forces which may overwhelm an atmosphere of peaceful coexistence, passing wrong signals to other parts of the Country with ravaging effects that may be difficult to set aside. The prevailing demographic configuration with pronounced seated social decadence of such ills as hooliganism, gangsterism, cultism, pilfering and robbery are themselves threats upon which the menace of kidnap-for-ransom can build upon to extend its networks. Such heightening of circumstances, may only result into metabiotic forces brewing storms of disturbances to further degenerate insecurity situation in the Country.

It is pertinent for the Federal Government to work assiduously with component States of the region to firmly develop response system of security and social architectures to clampdown on the sprouting wings of the menace from its fledgling state before degenerating into an albatross. Hence, waiting till when situations wax gross before instituting structures of actions may be catastrophic, as such laxity has only brought other regions currently ravaged by the scourge of kidnapping and other security threats, under the web of entanglements of distress. It is pertinent that no more laxity be afforded, if a worsening of insecurity profile in the Country would be averted.