Kidnapping, a deeply-rooted criminal and militant phenomenon throughout Nigeria remains one of Nigeria’s biggest challenges till date. In 2016, Nigeria was ranked as the 1st in Africa and the 4th highest in global crime top ten countries for kidnap.
Kidnap-for-ransom in Nigeria gained international notoriety in the mid-2000s, when militant groups in the Niger delta started using kidnap-for-ransom as part of a violent campaign against the oil and gas industry.
Kidnap cases often go unreported, as many Nigerians would rather cooperate and pay the required ransom to the kidnappers because of their lack of confidence in the security agencies. Government Security Forces response to the scourge of kidnapping has been average at best. However, when it comes to highly publicized cases such as kidnap of children from schools, or kidnap of prominent individuals in the society, the security agencies respond promptly and efficiently.
KIDNAPPERS MODE OF OPERATION
On the 10th of June, 2017, the Nigerian Police arrested the leader of a notorious criminal gang in Nigeria, Evans. For seven years, he had been on the most wanted criminal list in three different states- Edo, Anambra and Lagos state. For years, he operated his syndicate under the radar; security agents had no idea where he lived or what he looked like.
The most recent arrest of this notorious Kidnap gang leader in Nigeria, revealed that kidnapping operations in Nigeria are thoroughly thought out; the tactics used by him made it easy for them to evade arrest for over ten years, some of these tactics involved
- Using over 7 different encrypted phones to communicate with his gang members
- Tracking mechanism to monitor each gang member
- Use of electronic countermeasures to evade police surveillance
- Use of various vehicle plate numbers
- Converging at different meeting points to discuss operations and to share ransom proceeds.
- Different team members to carry out various responsibilities; they never interfaced with each other.
- Highly trained boots on ground to carry out successful operations.
The investigation of Evans syndicate shows that criminals in Nigeria are very well-equipped and their activities have been under-estimated by Law enforcement agencies in Nigeria. Questions abound as to where these criminals acquire their arms and ammunition from. While the open arms market is an option, there is an increasing possibility of rogue security forces conniving with criminals.
Nigerians are motivated to report crime when money is offered as a reward; it is not the best approach but it has proven to be a panacea for corruption and crime in Nigeria.
For instance, the whistle blowing policy that was introduced in December 2016 by the Federal government has recovered over N56 Billion Naira in looted funds.
Similarly, earlier this year, a bounty of N5 Million Naira was placed on the head of notorious Imo State armed robber and Kidnap-For-Ransom (KFR) kingpin, Henry Chibueze (a.k.a Vampire), who escaped from court in January 2017; the bounty placed on his head eventually led the police to his location.
Likewise in the case of the recent arrest of Evan’s and his kidnapping syndicate. Evans’ had been in operation for over a decade and was eventually placed on the wanted list of the Police in Anambra, Edo, Port-Harcourt and Lagos states. For seven years, several attempts to catch this criminal failed; the police had no idea of what he looked like.
However, less than a month after Lagos state command announced that a thirty million naira (N 30,000,000) bounty has been placed on his head; he was eventually captured and arrested on Saturday, 10th of June, 2017.
Kidnapping persists in Nigeria because the root causes are yet to be addressed, especially the obsession of obtaining fast wealth.
Other obvious causes that must be addressed are: unemployment, ill-equipped and under-trained security agencies, permeable law enforcement, Judiciary systems.
While the apprehension of Evans by the Police Force is commendable, it is important that the government show zero tolerance for criminal activities and ill-gotten wealth, by destroying his properties and enforcing the death penalty.
However, as citizens, we also have a large role to play in ensuring that kidnapping in Nigeria is curbed and not wait for rewards to be placed on criminal acts/criminal before we blow the whistle on them. If you see something, say something!