Afenifere Calls for Urgent Action Over Resurgence of Kidnapping, N40 Trillion Ransom

Disturbed by the upsurge in the incidence of kidnapping in various parts of the country, the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural and political organization, Afenifere has, again, called on the authorities at various levels to up the ante in their efforts at putting an end to the unfortunate incident.

The organization’s position was contained in a press statement issued on its behalf by its National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi.

It would be recalled that a spate of kidnappings took place last week, especially in Plateau, Benue, Sokoto, Kaduna and Ogun states.

These were in addition to the ones that had occurred in the previous weeks in other parts of the country.

According to Afenifere, the recent occurrence elicited greater concern because of the focus by the kidnappers on defenceless and innocent school children.

Reports have it that last week Wednesday, some terrorists seized some women and children who were searching for firewood.

The victims were from one of the camps for displaced persons (IDP) in Borno State.

Information about it did not filter out on time because local mobile telephone lines had reportedly been destroyed.

The following day, 287 children, aged between eight and 15, and some teachers, were reportedly abducted by gunmen from a school in Kuriga, Kaduna State.

These incidents occurred as the nation soberly prepares to mark the 10th anniversary of the abduction of secondary school girls in Chibok in April, 2014.

In a manner that went beyond any reasonable conjecture, bandits who abducted 16 residents of Gonin-Gora community, a suburb of Kaduna metropolis in the Chikun Local Government Area, on Wednesday, February 28, 2024 were reported to be demanding N40 trillion ransom to free the 16 victims.

It would be recalled that the entire budget of Nigeria for the year 2024 is less than N30 trillion.

Besides the N40tr demanded, the terrorists were also asking for 11 Hilux vehicles and 150 motorbikes with which they apparently plan to continue to wreak more havoc! Which goes to show that the phenomenon must be confronted headlong and with the stringent steps possible.

The abductions of school children raise a lot of concern.

It is a fact that illiteracy level in Nigeria, particularly in the North, is very high.

When those who summoned courage to go to school are being traumatized, they and their parents can be highly discouraged from going to school.

The implication of a large illiterate population is too obvious to merit reiterating.

Some returning kidnap victims asserted that the timing of abductions should be a pointer to the motive of the abductors.

Coming at the threshold of new Ramadan fast, it was conjectured that the terrorists wanted their victims to prepare stuffs and do some other menial jobs for them during the month of fasting besides making money out of them through ransom payment.

This is one of the areas that religious leaders have roles to play.

It is incumbent on religious and community leaders to impress it on those around them that every action of theirs have consequences that can be greater in impact than the original act.

Afenifere spokesman observed that President Ahmed Bola Tinubu, while acknowledging that Nigerians are facing hardship due to some current policies embarked upon by his administration, also said that steps are being taken to soothe the pains.

The President stated this when he visited Afeniefere National Leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti who is also Asiwaju Yoruba, in Akure penultimate week.

A pledge he further reiterated in Minna, Niger State, on Monday, March 11, 2024 where he assured Nigerians that the current challenges will be surmounted pretty soon.

Ajayi also recalled the decision of the Tinubu administration to institute unemployment benefits for graduates, security benefits for the elderly and the vulnerable as well as its determination to put an end to herders making their cows to eat up crops and vegetables of farmers which the President described as ‘economic sabotage’.

He then urged the federal government to promptly translate these affirmations into action so as “to relieve our people of hunger” to quote Mr. President who said this while commissioning agricultural implements in Minna on Monday.

Afenifere which expressed the confidence in the ability of President Tinubu administration to tackle the challenges confronting Nigeria presently, then tasked the number one citizen to consider the following suggestions: Conveyance of cluster meetings with various communities where stakeholders would be reminded of the risks and destructions that kidnapping and terrorism are causing them. Government should also tell participants that henceforth, those who are caught, including collaborators, would face stiff penalties not ruling out death penalty. At such meetings, collaborators and informants would be there to hear that government is now determined to be ruthless with them. The threat must be followed with prompt actions. While that is going on, security agencies must be strengthened numerically, equipment-wise as well as in terms of remunerations and incentives – in addition to the deployment of modern technology for security purposes. Urgent steps must also be taken to make food available at affordable prices.

“It is gratifying that Mr. President has expressed readiness for state police. As we have stated several times, the time is now for the President to issue an Executive Order proclaiming multi-level police forces comprising both state and local government police services. This should be done as a matter of urgency. An Executive Bill can then be forwarded to the National Assembly for the amendment of relevant sections of the Constitution to allow multi-level policing”.

Afenifere then called on President Tinubu to factor the foregoing recipes into the ‘comprehensive programme’ he promised to unveil in “two to three weeks’ time” to solve the identified problems, especially in the agricultural sector with a view to curbing insecurity and hunger in the land.