In any country, national security and protection of lives and property of the citizens are major constitutional duties of government. Once any government fails in these core responsibilities, it will begin to loss public or citizens’ confidence and support, which is a prelude to breakdown of social system, law and order in the society. It is to forestall this scenario that the present administration should be on red alert towards addressing the widespread criminal activities being reported on a daily basis in Nigeria.
For instance, last week, the news of the kidnap of the elder statesman and former Secretary to Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae, was a major headline of dailies and broadcast stations to the consternation of concerned Nigerians. It was the icing on the cake for the reported cases of kidnapping, armed robbery, assassination, Fulani/herdsmen clashes and other forms of criminal activities in the country under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The chieftain of the pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere and a prominent politician in the country was kidnapped by gunmen from his farm in Ilado village, Akure, Ondo State, last Monday, September 21, 2015. His abductors demanded N100million ransom for his release but later reduced the figures to N90milion. He, however, regained freedom on Thursday 24, four days in the den of his abductors. It was not clear whether any ransom was eventually paid by his family or the Ondo State government: at least, there was no formal or official statement to that effect. Information at the public domain indicates that the Inspector General of police, Mr. Solomon Arase, on the orders of President Buhari, led a rescue operation ‘leading’ to the rescue of the elder statesman.
As the nation was still struggling to grapple with the shock of abduction of Chief Falae and his subsequent release, another person, a renowned 70-year old pastor, Japhet Obafemi, has been kidnapped in same Ondo State. The kidnappers are demanding for a ransom of N20million before they release him. In a separate report, a business man in Lagos, James Uzochukwu Uduji, chairman of Comestar Manufacturing Company, has been kidnapped as he was being driven home by his driver at a bad portion of road close to his residence in FESTAC Town about two weeks ago. In his case, the kidnappers have demanded for a whopping sum of $1million (N220million).
The wife of the Deputy Managing Director of the Sun Newspaper, Steve Nwosu, was kidnapped and released just few days ago. Last month, a writer with Vanguard Newspaper, Donu Kogbara, was kidnapped in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital. She was later released but not without several of harrowing experience in the hands of her abductors.
It appears that Nigeria is fully back to the dark days of kidnapping. With the spate of criminal activities on the rise, what are the issues? And what is the way out? Experts have been canvassing for the repositioning of the Nigeria Police.
A retired Commissioner of Police, Lawrence Alobi, and an Interpol consultant, Udensi Chikwe, gave insights on the development during a media interactive programme last week. The duo was on the same page that the Police, being poorly funded, equipped and motivated, is at disadvantage to fight or respond to modern crimes in the country. A well equipped and motivated Police does not need any special presidential order to rescue any Nigerian kidnapped by hoodlums and bandits as was the case of Chief Falae.
It was recently reported that bandits operated and robbed passengers for about six hours unchallenged by the police or any security agents along the Akure/Lagos Highway thus lending credence to the age-long neglect of security concerns by authorities in the country.
The two experts above recommended that major roads across the nook and crannies of the country should have a motorised and well equipped patrol team every 10 kilometer. The officers and men must get qualitative insurance, good salaries as well as special duty allowances since they work 24hours round the clock. States government should establish Police Trust Funds in their respective state, just like the Lagos State government did. Government should design a new budgeting format that will cater for the police recurrent and capital needs and not a forecast or the envelope method that has been in use overtime. They also proposed that a professional or a retired top police officer should henceforth be made minister of police affairs instead of politicising the appointment as was the case in the past.
We cannot but agree with the above suggestions. We also add that, there should be a comprehensive overhauling of the Nigeria Police in this new era of ‘change’ if it must meet modern security challenges. Several reports and submissions in this regard commissioned by previous administrations should be dust off and critically reviewed. The federal government should therefore rise up to its constitutional duty and provide adequate security for the citizens any where Nigerians live.