PRESIDENT JONATHAN, ONOVO AND THE KIDNAPPING MATTER
The ordinary Nigerian on a daily basis earns less than 100 U.S cents, equivalent to 60 British pence, or roughly â‚¦140, which is less than a dollar.
A few weeks ago, at the University of Port Harcourt, something terrible happened to two students. For not being able to complete the remaining â‚¦100 on a cell phone debt, a student was beaten to death along with his friend by another group of students.
These are the realities in Nigeria at a time the nation is struggling to return to Nigeria the former MD/CEO of the Intercontinental Bank, Erastus Akingbola, an alleged escapee now in London.
While the ordinary Nigerian struggles to earn â‚¦10,000 monthly, Akingbola is reportedly allowed â‚¦1.4million naira for his monthly expenses while relaxing in his London residence. Assets of £83 million or $126 million belonging to Akingbola were recently confiscated by a London Court. A contrast between two extremes!
As these harsh differences between the very poor and the exceedingly rich continue, the nation now seethes with the new phenomenon of kidnapping.
The latest was a seven-day national ordeal which involved the abduction of four journalists who reported had an unusually large amount of cash in their possession. This terrifying development had an emotional toll to an already nervous nation.
I.G Onovo's Psychological Warfare
The episode held the entire country spellbound, including the psychological warfare waged by the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ogbonna Onovo.
The journalists owe their release to this man! In spite of the fragile state of the Nigerian Police Force, representative of a chronically distressed society, Onovo's tactics and leadership worked against the captors of the now-released journalists.
It mattered little if any of the nation's security management had a useable tracking device, or if any technical assistance was sort from an external security agency.
The President's recent statement that it will soon procure contemporary security technology to help control criminal activities like kidnapping is a good thing.
The President also recently pledged to put the military to use against those who abduct individuals such as foreign oil workers and contractors, which is how kidnapping began. The President's recent statements aimed at kidnapping, whose new targets now include wealthy and middle-class Nigerians is welcomed.
As you may be aware , we now know why what could be called the Onovo's Rescue Manual with all of its outmoded tactics as in house-to-house; bush-to-bush search was the best alternative to fight the current wave of abduction.
According to Onovo, the police currently lacks the "necessary equipment," and it is no wonder that a report from the four journalists revealed that the captors had more "sophisticated" weapons and devices than a law enforcement body like the Police.
Truth be told, the Nigerian style of kidnapping is a felony that appears to be very distinct in its nature, features and operations.
The Nigerian style abduction, at least, at this time is mostly in the image of what could be viewed as:
• Arranged kidnapping with systematic and sequential approaches;
• Unorganized Kidnapping with marks of irregularity as in the spur-of-the-moment or sudden kidnapping of any one;
• Media-driven kidnapping as in a highly hyped and published name of a person with sudden wealth, focused on by criminals;
• Ludicrous kidnapping with ridiculous and bizarre characteristics as in a father abducting a son to get reward from a rich relative;
• Sensational kidnapping with marks of high-level acts like abducting an infant child; Message-driven kidnapping with purported information and concerns about the painful conditions in a society;
• Chance kidnapping with marks of opportunity and probability that the targeted victim is the right target;
• Sadistic kidnapping with marks of severe brutality and possible extermination of the captive,
• Compensatory kidnapping with marks of pure business like dealings;
• Humiliating kidnapping slanted on dishonoring and shaming a powerful, politically or socially placed individual;
• Ritual kidnapping with marks of illicit customary characteristics; and
• Conspiratory kidnapping as in a collaborative arrangement between disgruntled officials and bandits.
The common thread that passes through each style of kidnapping is the moment-to-moment emotion of not being a moneyed person, and the penchant for sudden riches, in the manner of those who became wealthy suddenly through corrupt or fraudulent practices.
Feelings of Inequality
People in general, perceive the nation as an oil-based economy where money should go around especially among the laboring working-class Nigerians.
As such, there appears to be this psychological pressure for some Nigerians to become soft invitees to crime, leaving them open to a quick entry into the illegal world of abduction. It appears that some hungry students from higher institutions, a few university students and some poverty-bound police officers with free and dangerous weapons now operate in the abduction trafficking.
These vulnerable Nigerians read the Newspapers and see articles about alleged billions of naira stolen by their fellow Nigerians.
Just imagine what goes through the mind of a university dropout due to financial problems, what emotions are felt by an unemployed graduate or a police officer with a monthly belated salary ranging from â‚¦8,000 to â‚¦21,000, when news of politicians like Senator Saminu Turaki reportedly amassed extra-ordinary wealth.
Turaki, the ex-Governor of Jigawa State allegedly looted â‚¦6 billion of State money in one day. In one day!
Perhaps the President feels for those enormously rich Nigerians who have to result into extreme precautions like the use of expensive German shepherds and armored cars in an attempt to protect themselves, their cash, wives, and children.
Young men and women by their very nature have so much energy or oomph, and pray for a state of liveliness. But when, some of them cannot pay for a basic living, or even purchase adequate food, shoes or clothing their vulnerable spirit might drive them to criminality.
And the President was right, some of these rebellious young men and women make these heavily guarded Nigerians their possible targets.
In a complicated society like Nigeria where people have a little trust in the Police, and where police informants are reportedly frequently killed, it is easier for captives to identify quickly with their captors emotionally.
In the same vein, captives secretly pay for their freedom at all costs and as a result of fear, protect the captors' identity, especially when many kidnappers appears better armed than the nation's Police.
As long as Nigeria remains a giant risk internally and among nations the threat of cyclical crimes such as extortion or abduction leaves the nation in a security-based dilemma leaving people feeling vulnerable.
Presidential executive orders are needed to address the perilous state of security in the nation.
All private GSM Telecommunication device operators should install circuitry to quickly point out and locate the origin, and place of an incoming call, thereby making any telephone-oriented crime easy to detect.
Instead of trying to start a new senior police college, it should be delayed for now and the money invested in security measures for routine police work. This could begin with setting â‚¦40,000 naira as the basic salary for an entry level police constable with secondary school certificate.
Bullet proof vests for the Police become vital as the streets, banks, rural and urban areas are becoming more and more dangerous for the patrol officer.
The government should work effectively towards more electrical power to reduce darkness that kidnappers and other criminals thrive in. With expanded electricity generation, what better way to reduce unemployment?
Authorities should also work towards communications' enhancement for the police to increase the detection rate for kidnapping to those of Western countries.
Nigerian should establish State policing in the nation, since local authorities tend to work better in coordinating local-driven occurrences that include crimes of kidnapping.
The security crisis requires the authorities to provide a steady step and bold moves in a national battle against the new type of criminal.
John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D is a Forensic/Clinical Psychologist and the Interim Associate Dean of Behavioral Science, North Campus, Broward College, Coconut Creek, Florida. [email protected]: