Kidnapping has become a thriving business among groups of youths and suspected Fulani herdsmen in the state. For watchers of events in the confluence state, the siege of the state by these kidnappers does not come as a surprise. The ominous signs have been there.
Kidnapping as business is rampant and ranks a monthly average of at least 10 reported cases, meaning that patronage of the dreaded inhumane activity is on the rise in the state. Youths in the state, it seems are the major supply line of thuggery activity. Going by the frequency with which kidnapping takes place across the state, someone may be forgiven if he draws the conclusion that the cruel act operates under well-protected state policy.
Many have also argued that the fertile ground for this unholy activity was created under the administration of Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, the erstwhile governor of the state, since it was during his administration that the state witnessed the emergence of kidnapping incidents, which have grown in status, and rapidly too.
Friday Magazine reliably gathered that some of “the boys” in the kidnapping business today are mostly those hoodlums deployed by the then political actors across the parties to carry out thuggery activities against their political foes. Politicians then used these jobless youths as tools to harass, intimidate and humiliate their political opponents.
The youths were, therefore, useful tools for them to protect their political interests, and remain relevant in the political scene, not withstanding their rating among the people they claimed to represent.
However, once they had achieved their political desires or somehow they were eliminated from the scene, they found no use for these youths and their services and therefore dumped them in the wilderness. But since these discarded youths had to survive, and having been sufficiently armed, they turned to alternative means of sustaining themselves, though illegally.
According to Hussein Abdullahi, the dumped youths who evidently were pained by the demeaning treatment they were subjected to, and finding no legitimate means of fending for themselves as well as sustaining the kind of life styles that they had lived when they were funded by powerful politicians, decided to channel their anger first on the politicians, top business men and women, and later whoever they perceived could meet their demand.
The youths have taken to kidnapping of their perceived “exploiters” or their children in the process, in their bid to level old scores. “Their respond to sudden cut in their line of supply of funds was to turn against their exploiters by hauling in their children and only release them after ransom has been paid,” he said.
It has been noted that these group of hoodlums have been involved in some highly celebrated kidnapping cases in the past few years in the state.
For instance, a group of hoodlums, Friday Magazine learnt kidnapped the son of the embattled Speaker of Kogi State House of Assembly, Momo Jimoh Lawal, the former state chairman of People Democratic Party, Hassan Salawu, (though kept secret), Adamu Enape, a staunch member of PDP in the state, and many others, some years back.
Further, our investigation revealed that some of those youths took to kidnapping and armed robbery when they lost the patronage of the state government, which hitherto was alleged to have engaged them in thuggery business.
However, under the immediate past governor of the state, Captain Idris Wada, the administration opted to shun any use of hoodlums to exert prices from its political foes. “He wanted no such association with renowned hoodlums, he shunned them and deliberately cut them off from the Lugard House,” Isa Achem, who resides in Lokoja said.
Ojogba James said, following this rejection, some of these youths felt stranded and decided to exploit other means of earning a living by using the same weapon that the politicians had armed them with, to fight their opponents. “Stranded, they decided to eke a living through this unlawful business.”
The kidnapping of the celebrated American woman missionary, Philis Sortor, at Emiworo village, few kilometres from Lokoja along Ajaokuta-Anyigba road early last year, and that of the son of a popular youth activist in the Ebiraland in the central senatorial district of the state, Pastor Manjoe suleman, a lecturer at Federal College of Education, Okene, teachers and many politicians in the district brought kidnapping in the state to limelight.
Their exploits did not even spare clergy men. Early part of this year, a pastor of the Redeemed Church Ministry at Zango-Daji, Lokoja, was kidnapped from the pulpit while conducting a Sunday service.
Also, expatriate staff of Chinese construction firms in Lokoja and Ceramic Industry Ltd, Ajaokuta, also fell victims to this group of kidnappers. In one of their operations, the Kogi State Police Command lost two of its personnel at cruncher quarry site in Lokoja late last year. The security operatives came under the barrage of kidnapping activities while providing cover for the expatriate workers of the construction firm.
Besides these “home-based hoodlums”, we gathered that some professional kidnappers from outside the state, sometimes acting on the tip off from informants, usually storm the state to feast on their perceived preys.
The kidnapping of Ibaji and Yagba West council chairmen while they were in a meeting of local government chairmen at Kabba some years back, was traced to hoodlums from Edo state who were returning from another operation in kwara State who got winds of the said meeting and decided to storm the venue and made away with the two councils’ chairmen for big pay.
Though, the police later apprehended the culprits, millions of naira were said to have exchanged hands before their release. In the same vein, the same professional kidnappers from Edo state were said to have kidnapped the mother of Sani Lulu, the former president of the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, in his country home at Idah.
In all of these high profile kidnapping incidents, ransom were placed and paid before the kidnapped were left off the hook.
Friday Magazine gathered that unreported cases of kidnapping occur daily across the state. They are often not reported to the police authority for fear of the victims’ life. At the forest in Adogo, Ajaokuta LG; Odolu, IgalaMela/Odolu Council and Egon in Lokoja LG of the state, most kidnapped victims are reportedly languishing in the shrubs awaiting payment of ransom for their air of freedom.
Kidnapping in Kogi has taken a frightening dimension. Hoodlums have taken over the highways and most of the major link roads in the state where unsuspecting motorists are usually flagged down and their passengers emptied into the bush.
Thereafter, a ransom is placed on the most important person’s number in the victim’s cell phone. Recently, Lokoja- based youth activist, one Ibrahim (not real name from Kara woro-Lokoja) ran into them on his way to Ajaokuta, on seeing Senator Tunde Ogbeha’s number in his cell phone, they put a call to him and placed their ransom. The victim is yet to be released despite the fact that the ransom was allegedly paid to them.
The state police command is not resting on its oars. Recently, the state Commissioner of Police, Yakubu Usman, paraded 27 kidnappers, who were arrested from across the state, at the police headquarters, Lokoja. Among those paraded are Buji Maubi Mohammed and Abdullai Mohammed that kidnapped their father, Mohammed Abubakar, and placed a ransom on him.
According to CP Usman Abubakar, the children invaded Fulani camp in Koton Karfe with their gang members and kidnapped their father, whom they later freed after family members paid a ransom of N2m. The state Police boss said like any other crime, there is always a tell tale links to the perpetrator(s), stressing that the children of Abubakar were arrested in this direction.
Also paraded is one Abdullai Danbarkije, who, the commissioner said, was arrested in Partner Hotel, Idah on a tip off. He was arrested in connection with the kidnap of one Isah Ibrahim and others, a sum of N2.5m ransom was paid in the process.
The state police command assured that the police will continue to intensify effort in tracking the hoodlums behind the kidnapping incidents in the state, urging members of the public to volunteer information on time for his men to swing into action.


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