Kidnapping is not new in Nigeria, and is one of the country’s big challenges. Long before the activities of Boko Haram in Nigeria, the country has been facing the problem which was more rampant in the South East region. But the attention of the government and international community was actually drawn to it by the activities of the insurgents.
Though it is a global issue in many parts of the world, the Federal Government of Nigeria has not been leaving any stone unturned to ensure that kidnapping becomes a thing of the past in the country, especially by arresting and punishing the kidnappers.
Many important and ordinary people in the country have been abducted and held in captivity by the kidnappers to obtain ransom. In many cases, some kidnappers have received a ransom, while others held their captives longer to demand more from the relatives of the victim. Unfortunately, many of the victims have met their untimely deaths in the hands of the kidnappers.
Kidnappings are conducted in Nigeria by both Boko Haram and lay citizens. While Boko Haram’s kidnappings are both political and religious, according both to their own leaders and the government, other people have different reasons for their own action.
It has been established that unemployment, poverty, religion, political issues, the quest for prosperity, and some few others are the causes of kidnapping, which has numerous consequences. However, it has also been discovered that the rate at which kidnapping is practiced in the world, especially in Nigeria can be reduced with acceptance and involvement of certain measures.
It is against this background that the Senate recently recommended death penalty by hanging or firing squad for kidnappers in the country so as to serve as deterrent to others in particularly and a way of stopping the menace in general.
The senate resolution followed the consideration of a report presented by Senator Abu Ibrahim (APC Katsina South) on the crime compiled by the joint Committee on Police Affairs, National Security and Intelligence in respect of a motion on the unfortunate recurrence of kidnapping and hostage-taking in the country.
The recommendation for death penalty, as adopted by the Senate, was made as additional prayer by Senator Muhammad Adamu Aliero (APC Kebbi Central) and adopted by the upper legislative chamber.
While contributing to the report, the Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio (PDP Akwa Ibom North-West), regretted that kidnapping escalated in Nigeria when ex-Governor and now Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige was kidnapped around 2002.
Other recommendations adopted by the Senate were that: “The funding of the security agencies should be taken as a priority project, bearing in minds that the practice of envelop budget for security agencies have proved ineffective.
“Efforts should be geared towards creating employment opportunities for our teeming unemployed youths and security agencies should embark on training and retraining of the personnel for effective capacity building”.
The Senate also tasked “state governments to enact laws to enable security agencies to prosecute kidnappers and other crime related offences in their jurisdictions”.
It in addition, recommended that “synergy and intelligence sharing among security agencies should be vigorously pursued” and that “the Inspector General of Police and Director-General of the Department of State Security in particular and other security agencies should be encouraged to do more”.
The Senate stated: “It appears the security agencies have not been able to perform optimally due to inadequate funding to enable them procure modern technology and equipment” and observed that “it appears to be unnecessary and unhealthy rivalry amongst the security agencies leading to lack of required synergy and intelligence sharing on time”.
Senate however regretted that “relations of the victims are always ready to pay ransom which tends to encourage the criminals”.
Few years ago, Anambra State government had made a new law altering the punishment any perpetrator caught in the act of kidnapping will receive. The law was made during the leadership of Governor Peter Obi of the then All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA party, and said that any person caught in the offense of kidnapping will be sentenced to death and anything bought with the ransom money, like a house or car, will be destroyed.
The menace is fast becoming a lucrative alternative to armed robbery offence. The gravity of kidnapping is so intense that it has virtually affected most persons in our society. The current dimension of kidnapping became alarmed in the Niger Delta region when militants in February 2006 abducted some oil workers, ostensibly to draw global attention to the dire situation in the oil rich Niger Delta region of the country, the victims were mostly foreigners.
Since then the social problem of kidnapping has spread like wild-fire in most parts of the country, especially in the south-eastern region. The targets are no longer foreigners alone; practically every Nigerian is now a target. On the hind sight, however, it is observed that the former Governor of Anambra State was kidnapped in July 10, 2003 by his fellow political party members who were in opposition with him.
Arguably, therefore, kidnapping is not actually new in the area; but the current lucrative ransom demanding strategy has become a serious social problem for the Government and people of Nigeria.
For instance, in the year 2008 Nigeria was placed sixth on the global kidnap index by an online tourism site. This rating puts the country Nigeria among countries with serious kidnapping problems, behind Philippines, Venezuela, Columbia, Brazil, and Mexico. Such report could serve as an assumption due to lack of accurate statistical data. Also, there was report in 2009 that Nigeria recorded 512 cases of kidnapping and 30 dead persons in kidnappers’ den that year as against 353 cases recorded throughout 2008.
Also in 2009, a former Inspector General of Police in Nigeria had noted that, kidnappers and hostage takers got $15 million in ransom (about N100 million) between 2006 and 2009.
Apart from the recent position of the upper legislative chamber, in recent years, attention has turned to kidnapping in the country. Both national and international bodies are coming together to see if the incidence of kidnapping in Nigeria can be reduced to some extent. Chad, Cameroon, and the United States recently joined in the fight against kidnapping in Nigeria, which is mostly carried out by Boko Haram.
The kidnappings are political because politicians who are bad eggs want to destroy the leadership of the then President Goodluck Jonathan. The attacks and kidnappings are at the same time religious because the of the group’s fundamentalist Islamism. The meaning of their name is “Western education is prohibited,” which is why they continue to kidnap school children. On the night of April 14-15, 2014, about 276 girls of the Government Girls College, Chibok in Borno State were kidnapped by the Boko Haram.
Findings shown that kidnapping in the country conducted by more ordinary citizens to fill their pockets. The people, who are mainly youths, were reportedly being supported by rich men who conduct kidnapping as a modern business. The kidnappers target rich men and their children and demand ransom from families before setting the victim free.
There is no denying the fact that the reason why kidnappers are still disturbing some communities today is because of the mild treatment given to them when caught. When the government restructures a law that will treat the kidnappers harshly maybe by long-time imprisonment with torture, some of them will be forced to change. It is good to treat the harsh harshly and the mild mildly. This is to be made known to the public so that no one will come and plead on the behalf of any of the offenders when caught.
But since unemployment is one of the factors that lead people into kidnapping, government at all levels should endeavour to generate employment for the citizens, especially the youth to promote the fight against kidnapping. Governments and individuals should understand the importance of youth empowerment and empower them to be employed. When they are employed, they will be busy with their work and pay less attention to anything that will cause social crises, including kidnapping.
Also, there is need for effective community policing in the country. Not just institutionalizing the machineries, adequate

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