Jonathan Condemn Kidnap of Pupils … As Groups, Resident Call for Emergency Rule

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Any semblance of decent society left in Aba, the hitherto commercial nerve centre of South-Eastern Nigeria is gone, as Abia state of Nigeria speedily heads down the road to anarchy. There is no longer gain-saying the fact that criminals and outlaws now have a comfortable run of the city of Aba . The crime-busters have repeatedly been busted by these hoodlums. While innocent residents of the city are now snapped up at will for ransom, policemen are being freely slain alongside, for fun.

Even the hunters, have now become the hunted in the Enyimba city of Aba. The city has totally gone out of control. And as the audacity of the crime lords of the city increase, they resort to more heart-rending atrocities which as usual go unchallenged.

  Nigeria as a nation, on Monday took a nasty shock as fifteen pupils of Abayi International School , Aba , were on Monday morning abducted in their school bus in Aba, Abia State .

  The driver of the school bus had picked the children at designated points and was on the way to school when the suspected kidnappers struck. A Toyota Camry saloon car overtook and blocked the bus and men brandishing guns alighted and ordered it to stop. gathered that   as soon as the driver came down, the hoodlums collected his cell phone and ordered him to lie face down while they drove off with the pupils towards Etche in neighboring Rivers state of Nigeria. The abducted pupil are said to be within the nursery and primary school age .

  Geoffrey Ogbonna, the Abia State Police Command spokesperson had earlier told newsmen that he was yet to get any official report on the incident while it was learnt that the kidnappers had already demanded a N20m ransom.

  This sordid assault on decent society is unfortunately coming at a time the  Abia State Government just issued a two-week ultimatum to kidnappers and other violent criminals in the state to surrender their weapons and be rehabilitated in an amnesty programme.

  This not withstanding, not a few people are of the view that the Abia state government has failed. They argue that a government that cannot give any measure of protection to its tax-payers even its children population has irredeemably failed. One of such groups is the Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN).

  The group is alarmed at the dimension that kidnapping and other violent crimes have taken in Abia State and maintains that the police and other security forces have, not just lost control, but have themselves become targets of unrelenting attacks by the hoodlums they are expected to checkmate. This, NOPRIN said is illustrated by daily reports about police officers being gunned down by hoodlums in Aba.  

  They gave instances with the incident of September 18 , 2010 where two policemen were reported to have been shot dead by unknown gunmen at Umuafor Ukwu in Obingwa local government Area , the same area where four journalists and their driver were kidnapped on July 11, 2010.  

  Recently, also unknown gunmen were reported to have besieged a family in Aba, and ordered two little boys under gun point to have sex with their mother. The first boy, for refusing to comply, was shot dead in the presence of his mother. The poor woman had to prevail on her second son to do the bidding of the hoodlums to save his son's and her own life. This the group described as sacrilege.

  According to a statement signed by Okechukwu Nwanguma, the Program Coordinator of NOPRIN, what is happening in Abia State, is merely a reflection of the quality of leadership in the state. Hear him: 'No doubt, criminals have taken over the political space in the Southeast. Some State governors in the Southeast who came to power through a fraudulent electoral process have also hijacked the traditional institution by installing their fellow criminals as traditional rulers. These are the so-called traditional rulers who sponsor kidnapping and shield kidnappers in their communities. There is no political legitimacy. There is no governance. There is no morality. This explains why grown men could kidnap innocent minors for money. This is unconscionable!'

  NOPRIN believes that the Abia state governor has completely lost control, either because he is complicit or he is incompetent. The group insists that the purpose of every legitimate government is the welfare and security of the people that any government that cannot protect lives and property is not worth the name.  

  'What is happening in Abia also portends a serious threat to the forthcoming 2011 general elections. This calls for the immediate and decisive intervention of the federal Government. NOPRIN hereby calls on President Goodluck Jonathan to declare a state of emergency in Abia State. A special security force must be deployed without further delay to smoke out these criminals and their sponsors, and restore public order and safety in Abia State', Nwanguma said.  

  In a swift reaction to the kidnap of the children, President Goodluck  Jonathan  has condemned as utterly callous and cruel, the kidnapping of  the 15 nursery and primary school pupils in Aba , the Abia state capital. In a statement signed by Ima Niboro, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, President Jonathan has ordered the Inspector-General of Police and heads of other security agencies to take all necessary steps to rescue the abducted children and return them safely to their parents.

  The President urged the parents and relatives of the children to remain calm and assured them that Government will do everything possible to apprehend the kidnappers and bring an end to the lawlessness in Aba, Abia state.

  Meanwhile, banks in Aba had shut down since Monday following the security situation in the city and this is the fourth occasion banks in Aba have had to close down within the last two months for fear of armed attacks.

  As the feeling of insecurity swells in the state, proprietors of nursery, primary and post-primary schools in the city are gearing up for a protest strike on Thursday with the intention of shutting down all the schools until reasonable measure of security returns to the city.

  In a related development, medical doctors in Aba, under the aegis of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Aba branch, last week shut down both private and public health institutions in the city to protest the murder of one of their colleagues, Dr. Stanley Uche who was allegedly murdered by suspected kidnappers. This came on heel of the kidnap of two medical doctors last Wednesday. gathered that Dr. Uche of Christian Victory Hospital was killed last Monday while he was travelling to his village in Imo state for the burial of his sister.

  In a communiqué signed by Dr. Godwin Uwaoma and Dr. Chris Mmachi, Chairman and Secretary of NMA respectively, they observed that no fewer than 20 medical doctors have been kidnapped in recent times regardless of the October 7 Amnesty deadline for kidnappers and other armed criminals in the state.