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Eavesdropper: Kidnappings must be curbed – Punch Newspapers

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You surely must have read the story about how the police smashed an 11-man kidnap gang comprising nine men and two women operating from two motor parks in Kano State. The belief is that the gang must have been operating for some time collecting huge ransoms before they met their waterloo, The fact is that many individuals must have been put into misery and psychological damage done to many before the long arms of the law caught up with them. It’s heartrending that women were also among the criminals. One of the gang members reportedly said that he used to board vehicles as a passenger and sometimes, he would drive his vehicle, load passengers in the park and provide information to his kidnapping gang on the class of people in the car.
Passengers of commercial buses cannot be too careful but it’s also not out of place to advise them to be careful of buses they take when travelling. It’s inconceivable that some people will leave their abodes to think of how they would fleece people of their hard-earned money and make things difficult for others.
With the tales of robbery about commercial vehicles, it’s vital for passengers to at least be cautious before taking commercial buses or cars. In Lagos, there was the case of a man who boarded a Sienna bus at the Abule Egba area of the state at 5am on his way to work. The victim said it was not his first time doing that anytime he didn’t drive. Sadly, he didn’t get to his destination as the criminals manhandled him, took away his ATM card and dropped him in his throbbing state at Oke-Odo Area on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway. He later discovered that they withdrew huge amounts of money from his account. You can say that the victim was not kidnapped but there are cases where passengers were abducted and their abductors later reached out to their relatives for ransom payment. That is the situation that Nigeria has found itself in.
A worker in a telecoms firm was on his way to his office in Lagos some months ago and he was abducted by the driver of a commercial bus he took, including his accomplices.  He was held for days and released when they couldn’t reach any member of his family to pay ransom. He explained that the families of other passengers were reaching out to them to pay ransoms.  

Recently, an Air Vice Marshal Sikiru Smith (retd.), was abducted in Lagos by hoodlums in the Ajah area of Lagos State. The criminals were said to have seized him at a site where he was supervising a project and whisked him away in a boat after shooting indiscriminately into the air.  Though the AVM had been released, it nonetheless indicated what kidnapping had become in Nigeria. The truth is that many Nigerians are afraid for their lives and families. Kidnapping is a criminal act regardless of reasons that can be given to justify the illegal act. There was a time when it was fun to engage in night travel, now it’s no longer safe to do so and many people who tried it are biting their fingers.  The Federal Road Safety Corps Sector, through its Commander in Kogi State, reiterated this when he stated that night travel was unsafe for motorists and commuters, especially now that most roads were in a deplorable state and insecurity on the increase.

But looking at the situation, it’s glaring that hoodlums are taking over across the states and it’s not something that should be either be encouraged or overlooked. This is not the time to pretend as if all is well when in actual fact, the centre can no longer hold. Bandits, cultists, kidnappers, robbers and other categories of criminals should be duly dealt with. It is not enough to condemn kidnapping and other vices whenever they occur, governments across the states should take the security of their people seriously since it’s what they bargained for. Nigeria cannot afford to allow hoodlums to continue taking advantage of the people. Adequate security measures must be designed to curb the situation. This development, if not nipped in the bud, would fester and become a monster hard to tame. It’s gradually becoming a knotty situation to security forces that are often helpless whenever people are kidnapped. It’s also getting so worse to the extent that family members of victims usually resort to self-help whenever the police appear helpless too. They bargain with the kidnappers and quietly pay the demanded ransom to secure the release of their loved ones. The police have to rethink their strategies by using technology and intelligence-gathering to apprehend the criminals who are determined to make the country hard for everyone. They must be stopped in their nefarious act and quickly too.  That is one of the ways to make Nigeria breathe fresh air and not when it’s stifled by activities of evil-minded people.
Copyright PUNCH


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