The Metaphysical Underpinning of Kidnappings
An inquiry into the not -so -easily decipherable causes of the incessant and unrelenting cases of forced armed kidnappings of human beings by freelance armed hoodlums of Nigerian origin will begin with another sub-inquiry of why such a beautiful spiritual concept like metaphysics [study of that which is not physical] would be attached to a phenomenon of kidnappings that is obviously one of the most despicable modern day crime against humanity of all times.
One response will satisfy the busy mind that may be asking this line of question- Nigerians are notorious for being excessively 'religious' globally although it is obvious that excessive religiosity of most Nigerians that have attracted undue global attention is not necessarily accompanied by the attribute of God fearing.
So an inquiry into the metaphysical underpinning of kidnappings in Nigeria Is undertaken with the background knowledge that since Nigerians have the World's notoriety as the most religious people it therefore follows that when a particular odious crime of unprecedented dimension becomes fairly common then question should be asked to understand the erosion of the moral and spiritual fabrics of such a people that may have occasioned the widespread occurrences of these sort of crimes of kidnappings.
Last year, most Nigerians were witnesses to the fact that no week passed without one important personality been kidnapped by armed hoodlums who successfully extracted payment of huge monetary settlements or ransom from family members to such an extent that rational thinkers and crime experts were compelled to take a closer look at the possibility remotely or otherwise of the interconnectedness between successful kidnappings and the subterranean roles of some key officials of the various layers of the armed forces and especially the corruption-ridden Nigerian Police Force.
This is because of the notorious fact with a longstanding history that in Nigeria in the last fifty years, there is hardly any hugely successful crime that had taken place without the remote and/or immediate connivance and active participation of a highly placed official of the security forces.
In the mid-eighties, the emergence and eventual cracking down of a very notorious violent crime gang led by one Mr. Lawrence Aneni in the then Bendel State was all that Nigerians needed to know that a highly placed serving police officer- a certain serving Deputy superintendent of Police Mr. Iyamu was the brain behind the supply of arms and ammunitions that were freely used by the dreaded armed robbery gang.
Conversely, last year a controversy emerged that a serving police officer charged with the role of leading the crackdown on cases of kidnappings in Delta state was actually suspected of been the mastermind of most of the kidnap cases that defied resolution. When the fact became notorious that this particular police officer may have been involved in the unending cases of armed kidnappings of high profile persons in Delta state, the ordinary people protested and demanded that he be arrested and tried but what the police service commission's hierarchy did confounded all rational thinking. This accused high profile police officer indicted in the court of popular but rational public opinion was only moved away to Abuja and almost immediately returned to his post in the same state which directly contradicted the popular demands of the people who seriously felt that the trust they had in the Nigerian Police is betrayed by the connivance or otherwise of the police authority in shielding a top flight crime suspect in Nigerian Police uniform.
In Rivers state the same last year, a serving police officer was arrested for kidnapping so also in Imo state whereby a particular police sergeant was fingered as the brain behind the cases of kidnappings in Imo state and up until this time there is no specific information regarding what the police authority has done with all these accused police officers.
Therefore a surgical examination of the metaphysical underpinning of kidnappings in Nigeria is informed by these obvious security lapses and the total lack of will power on the part of the political and civil authorities to weed out all the bad eggs in the nation's armed forces by first and foremost sanitizing the fundamentals of the recruitment mechanisms adopted in the armed forces and police. I say this with the obvious background information that since the past decade recruitment into the armed forces and police including para-military bodies such as immigration and the Nigerian customs have been bastardized in the name of commercialization and auctioning of the entry level process.
Why for instance is recruitment into the Nigerian armed forces now being used by the hierarchy of the various armed forces and police including the semi-military organizations as avenues to raise revenue and exploit millions of unemployed Nigerian youth most of whom are desperate for jobs? The current Interior affairs minister Mr. Abba Moro is in the news for defending this insanity of charging potential recruits into the Nigerian immigration for purchase of recruitment forms before been recruited.
The fact is that in the process of auctioning the entry level forms for recruitment into these armed forces and police, a lot of crime suspects and hardened terrorists may have gained entry because all that is required is for the potential recruit to show evidence of payment for the purchase of forms and the necessary entry level academic qualifications before most of them actually get recruited.
There is also the very possibility that professional criminals belonging to notorious armed kidnapping gangs may have been successfully sponsored to join any of these armed forces of Nigeria with the underlying objective of providing some institutional support for their rank and file that are in the underworld and therefore the pollution and infiltration of all kinds of criminal elements and undesirable characters into the various segments of the Nigerian armed forces may be responsible for the widespread occurrences of kidnappings all across Nigeria and especially in the Southern segment of the Nigerian society and because the political authorities are too busy chasing Naira and Kobo [in contemporary political environment these politicians are now chasing huge petrol dollars], they have little or no time at all for the nitty-gritty of good governance and in the process of excessive politicking for mundane electoral victories and to line their pockets with filthy lucre stolen from the public till the essence of good governance and creating a relatively crime free or crime reduced Nigerian society is not really the objective of these bunch of politicians.
Secondly, as stated earlier, when persons are recruited into the various sections of the Nigerian armed forces without undertaken forensic crime investigation to determine the past criminal records of such potential recruits what Nigeria is now living with is the reality that indeed some hardened criminals have infiltrated the Nigerian armed forces and the Nigerian Police Force thereby undermining the metaphysical essence of effective and efficient law enforcement. There is also another variant of these disturbing institutional viruses tearing down the fundamentals of law enforcement in Nigeria which is not unconnected with the ongoing institutional competition among the various arms of the security community making it to look as if the different segments of the Nigerian security community are in a race of their lives for which of them will out perform each other with superficially media choreographed feats that are substantially non-verifiable and largely false.
The Nigerian Police Force and the State Security Services that ought to partner together in all major matters of crime investigations are actively undermining each other by working at cross purposes so much so that a little less than eight months now, the State Security Services and the Nigerian Police Force paraded two distinct sets of crime suspects as those purportedly responsible for the assassination of the then Chief Secretary of the Governor of Edo state Comrade Adams Oshiomole [ Comrade Olaitan Oyerinde killed in the most gruesome of fashions in the presence of his darling wife and beautiful little children while already in bed in his family residence in Benin city].
While the State Security Services paraded a set of crime suspects before the media claiming that these were the persons that killed the then close aide of the Edo state governor, the headquarters of the notoriously incompetent Nigerian Police Force in Abuja also paraded a different set of suspects.
The shock of this show of shame is that the Federal Government failed to call these misbehaving and shamelessly unprofessional bunch of law enforcers to order so they stop disgracing Nigeria before the international community. The Nigerian Police Force even went ahead to promote the then acting force spokesman into his substantive post and the spokesperson of the State Security Services [SSS] Ms. Marylyn Ogar is still grinning from ear to ear and it does not seem as if any of these two spokespersons expressed any form of remorse for bringing the image of Nigeria into global opprobrium because obviously these spokespersons virtually stated what their bosses authorized them to say even when these contradictory public statements on this serious crime of assassination of a person as important as the Special Adviser and Chief Secretary in the office of the governor of Edo state dented the image of the country.
The Federal Government even proceeded to celebrate what it identified as mid-term achievement whereby it claimed to have achieved institutional reforms. In the mid-term report presented by President Good luck Jonathan at the International Conference center Abuja last year, an event organized with fanfare and in which huge public fund was dissipated in frivolity, President Jonathan stated thus; “A reform mechanism in place to strengthen national institutions on a regular basis. Institutional reforms aims at changing obsolete ways of doing things and engendering modern ideas and process”.
But even the blind can see that long after this political statement, sophisticated crimes have continued and the various law enforcement institutions have not only continued to go about the old retrogressive fashion of doing things but the situation has even nosedived to an all time scandalous failure on the part of the law enforcement agents to unravel high profile kidnappings and other forms of criminality. To further degrade the metaphysics of law enforcement the different wings of the Nigerian armed forces have stuck to their guns and have continued in the dare devil contest for superiority among themselves thereby living the rest of vulnerable Nigerians to their own design and fate. Kidnappers now have unrestrained avenues to operate and behave like the lords of the manor.
The banking institutions are also not properly regulated because whenever kidnappings succeed, the payments are usually deposited by these individual gang members into their accounts and the long list of regulatory bodies for the Nigerian banks have yet to find an effective mechanism for dictating suspected huge transactions from their customers. The bank management in the haste to raise the profit and revenue profiles of these banks have mandated the hot female bankers recruited after National Youth Service scheme [NYSC] to go after customers with huge finance irrespective of how these cash are made and the result is that these female bankers have now turned into commercial women of easy virtue in the chase for deposits and the banks sack their workers who fail to use any means to achieve the targets set for them individually within specific periods. The civil/larger society also may have lost their consciences because no body ask question when suddenly a pauper reemerges the next day as a millionaire because even those wretched of the earth who go into politics return to their societies as the new arrivals in opulence and wealth. Politicians steal Nigeria blind and buy up housing assets and big hotels to amass further wealth and by so doing impoverish the populace but the shock of it all is that the populations applaud these sets of thieving elites. In Owerri Imo state a certain high profile politicians who actually came from a very poor background but who has served at the federal level for several years and have amassed illicit wealth recently built a beautiful edifice of a hotel and gave it a name that shows that he has arrived into the billionaire club. So kidnappers also generate huge revenues and reinvest them into their immediate surroundings whereby they automatically transform into the new elite. Here lies the metaphysical underpinning of kidnappings.
To our earlier line of inquiry on the lack of professional commitments on the part of the members of the security outfits, a sub-question is to ask why is Nigerian security forces not emulating the strategies for law enforcement and crime combat such as they are done in civilized economies? Why are the political elite that own flashy houses in Europe and America not use their power as political office holders today to compel the security operatives to copy the best of global practices in law enforcement? Does the elite gain from the ongoing regime of chaos and lawlessness that have pervaded/enveloped Nigeria or is it because their children hold foreign passports and stay in the developed societies that they care less about the speedy deterioration of professionalism among law enforcement officials? But again it is in the self enlighten interest of the political elite that the security operatives live up to expectation since they are easily the prime targets of these kidnappings and the police protection they corner to themselves most times are not competent enough to stop these dare devil kidnappers. Are there some hidden profit these elite gain by allowing chaos to reign supreme in Nigeria?
Enough of the digression and now to venture into how other civilized societies are protected we will go into a document titled 'Working for a safer and more secure Australia” presented at the eleventh congress of the United Nations on Crime prevention and criminal justice in 2005 in Bangkok, Thailand attended by this writer as part of the Nigerian official delegation, to learn that the government of Australia clearly showed that the Australian Federal Police [AFP] which is the Australia's international law enforcement and policing agency actively partner with the Australian Security Intelligence Organization [ASIO] as well as other intelligence agencies in order to ensure that criminal investigations into threats to Australia's security are supported by and coordinated appropriately and effectively with the Australia Intelligence Organization's security intelligence responsibilities.
In Nigeria what we read most times in the media is the confrontation among officials of the various amorphous law enforcement agencies fighting over beer bottles or women of easy virtue or just in foolish competition and confrontation to show who is more superior. Partnership to solve the incredibly high trend of kidnappings in Nigeria is not in the agenda of any of these less than professional law enforcers in Nigeria.
To therefore seek for a concerted national effort to solve these cases of kidnappings by hoodlums who have turned this crime into a thriving industry, the Nigerian armed forces and police must undergo surgical reforms and transformation to weed out the bad eggs; set up efficient crime data bank of all Nigerians so as to stop crime suspects or indeed criminals from infiltrating the armed forces and police and all those bad people already recruited and are in high places must be exposed and removed forthwith. Secondly, the National Assembly and the Presidency must be up and doing to ensure that legal frameworks are put in place to compel the various wings of the Nigerian security organizations to partner jointly in crime fighting to rid Nigeria of all violent crimes such as the cases of kidnappings that do nothing but damage the international image of Nigeria.
For instance the recent high profile kidnappings of the former head of the Anglican Church in Nigeria Reverend Dr. Peter Akinola, a man of international reach and connections has reportedly made Nigeria a laughing stock in the international community. Same thing happened when the popular Lagos based Senior Advocate of Nigeria Chief Mike Ozekhome was kidnapped. In the year 2013 more than one thousand Nigerians were kidnapped and only released after huge monetary payments exchanged hands and these kidnappers are roaming the streets as free persons and the institutions of law enforcement have become so weak and compromised to change the evil status quo.
There lies the call for urgent comprehensive reforms and transformations of these moribund security agencies to save Nigeria from becoming a kingdom of outlaws governed by the might of small arms and weapons of mass destruction. The moral and spiritual erosion that have given rise to these incessant cases of kidnappings must be arrested even as the current culture of money worship in most of Nigeria's communities must be expelled so that members of the civil society say something when they see something and the Government must strengthen the laws on whistle blowing to protect the anonymity and identity of willing patriotic Nigerians that want to expose the criminals who live among us because these kidnappers are not spirits.
Governments at the state level must also reorganize their offices of justice sector delivery so the wheel of justice moves professionally and smoothly with efficient speed and crime suspects are swiftly prosecuted and convicted in the competent courts of law and sanctioned appropriately with the stiffest of penalties to deter others from embracing the sophisticated crime of kidnappings. Nigerian justice sector should learn from that of modern day Britain whereby crime suspects are swiftly brought to trial to the satisfaction of all.
+Emmanuel Onwubiko; Head; Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria; [email protected]; http://www.huriwa.org/.
From the abundance of evidence seen by most people living and indeed who have visited Australia, the professionalism of the various wings of the Australian national policing and intelligence gathering institutions is second to none.