By Hassan Umar Shallpella
Adamawa state is amongst the frontline states in the Northeast Nigeria that suffered devastation caused by Boko Haram insurgency in recent years, the war have turned hundreds of thousands of children to orphans and displaced millions of people that cut across all strata of society while the number of widows increased because their husbands were killed by the terrorists.
With the return of relative peace in almost all the areas hard to reach during the heat of the attack and rebuilding of some destroyed structures by government in Adamawa state, some of the displaced persons who fled their abode have returned to their ancestral homes and businesses have picked up.
With the relative peace being enjoyed by the inhabitants in the affected areas and the level of security architecture put in place, the Federal Government last week announced plans to pull out Soldiers on peace keeping mission in the conflict areas.
As Adamawa state is recuperating from the security challenges posed by Boko Haram insurgents who unleashed terror in Northeast region, the peaceful atmosphere enjoyed by inhabitants of Adamawa is now being threatened by activities of kidnappers despite efforts by the Fintiri administration, the Police and other security agencies towards addressing the menace. In recent years, the issue of kidnapping sound like fiction to residents of Adamawa state, but the monster is now at their doorstep.
Who are the target group?
It has become obvious particularly in the last quarter of 2019 that kidnapping is unabated, people are now scared with the word Kidnapping because those who venture into the business of kidnapping are not sparing anyone no matter the status of a person as a water hawker in Yola, the Adamawa state capital of Nigeria was recently rescued from the den of kidnappers after ransom was paid.
Kidnapping has become almost a daily occurrence in Adamawa state; hardly a day will pass without reported case of kidnapping either in towns or villages. Those kidnapped in the last quarter of 2019 in Adamawa state include three Professors with the Modibbo Adama University of Technology Yola, Divisional Police Officer for Mubi North local government area, a Permanent Secretary, Businessmen, Director Litigation, teachers, farmers, politicians, House wives, children, INEC staff, Clerics and top government officials among others. Relations of victim(s) have paid huge sum of money as ransom running into millions of naira before they are released by their abductors.
Adamawa State Governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, who acknowledges the security challenges facing the state, said during his maiden broadcast when he assumed office in May 2019 that no society can thrive or make progress in a State of insecurity.
As you are all aware, no society can thrive or make progress in a State of insecurity. Taking this into consideration, particularly as someone who is directly affected by the level of insecurity which the State is currently contending with, I have swung into action to see the that immediate measures are taken at curbing the menace of criminality, while the security infrastructure is being overhauled with the active support from the Government.
Similarly, a Bill for a stringent Law to provide for stiffer penalties for Kidnappers/abductors, Armed Robbers and their collaborators will be forwarded to the State House of Assembly as soon as it convenes. Government will also extend support to Vigilantes and Hunters who will be thoroughly screened by the appropriate Security Agencies to make them the fulcrum of our security drive. However, the Governor is yet to send a bill to the state House of Assembly as promise six months after the inauguration of the 7th Assembly to provide for stiffer penalties for Kidnappers/abductors in the state.
Kidnapping has become a lucrative business in Nigeria as the perpetrators collect millions of naira from the relations or parents of the victims without hindrance because some of these cases are not reported as relatives of those affected are reluctant to report the incidents, by doing so, the life of the captive is in danger and could thwart the ransom negotiation process and sometimes warned by the perpetrators not to involve security agencies and failure to adhere to their warning will result into taking the life of the victim in their hands.
This development had now made people not to have confidence or trust anybody because some people within the family connived with the perpetrators and commit the crime since they will benefit from the bounty of ransom. The annoying aspect of it is that those who connived with the perpetrators are among the first callers to residence of a victim to expressed concern over the development even castigating the perpetrators for their nefarious acts.
Efforts of Police in curbing the menace
The battle against kidnapping is said to have recorded a major boost in the state with the recent arrest of 106 suspected kidnappers which may not be unconnected with the collaboration between the Adamawa State Police Command, the state government and leaders of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria MACBAN, Adamawa chapter which lead to surrender of five people who claimed to be repentant kidnappers.
The state Commissioner of Police, Audu Madaki recently said In view of the ongoing peace and reconciliation initiative of Adamawa State Police Command, in collaboration with the state government and MACBAN, Adamawa chapter, five kidnappers in the state voluntarily denounced their criminal activities.
They repented from kidnapping and surrendered five AK 47 rifles and 334 rounds of live ammunition to the command through the state chairman of the association.
He said the repentant kidnappers promised to assist the police and leadership of the association to identify, trace, arrest and recover more criminals in the state.
People should resort to fervent prayers to bring an end the security threat posed by kidnappers across Adamawa state; Government on the other hand should take proactive measures to protect the lives of the people. People should divulge information on suspicious persons even if that person is within the family to security agents to enable them tackle the issue of kidnapping once and for all.
Shallpella is a Journalist based in Yola, Adamawa state.