Category: peoplereport Written by Larry Onwuta
The people of South-East geo-political zone of Nigeria have suffered a lot in the hands of minority criminal elements who have chosen kidnapping as a trade at the detriment of the majority of innocent people.
Does kidnapping have some cultural link with the people of south-east zone? And do the kidnappers have any moral or legal right to justify their actions? Whether they believe it or not, do they realize that they are affected directly or indirectly by the extent of damage their nefarious activities have caused the society?
It is quite imperative for the effected Nigerians and the world to understand the true position of things in the context of crimes and criminals in the south east.
The study of criminology to some extent has proved that in every organized society, there are always some criminal activities going on in a particular environment.
Kidnapping, in the south-east zone, could be traced to the period of militancy in the Niger Delta when militants began to abduct and hold hostage some expatriates in the oil rich region of the country before demanding huge ransom (in form of millions of Naira or dollars, as the case might be ) Within that period, the kidnappers regarded their unwholesome ‘business’ as the fastest way of making money. Besides, they used the unlawful ‘trade’ to draw the international attention and see how to better their poverty-prone communities.
The south-easterners must attempt to know where they probably have gone wrong; Nigeria is engulfed in myriads of mind-boggling problems, and solutions are not yet in sight. It could be that they have ignored to take precautionary measures or totally refuse to find the fundamental solutions.
The Advocate learnt that in 2009 many Igbos were reportedly involved in the Niger Delta agitations for improved amenities in the oil producing communities but when the then President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua granted amnesty to the militants with the attendant financial compensations, the Niger Delta militants allegedly excluded the Igbo militants that were said to have assisted them during the struggle and the billions earmarked for rehabilitation eluded them.
As a result of the dejection, the Igbo militant were left in the lurch, apparently not having any other possible option than to continue kidnapping business to make a living and perhaps to attract attention.
The Police so far have recorded so many kidnapping cases in the zone: On June 30th 2012, for instance, men of the Imo State Police Command, arrested members of a five-man armed gang operating on a motor-bike, that stormed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) mega station at Ihiagwa, Owerri West Local Government Area and robbed the fuel attendants of N236,000.
Also, the police also apprehended two kidnapping suspects, who hail from Umualum Nekede in the same local government council of Imo state, and Abatete town, Idemili North council of Anambra State; those arrested were in the same town with their victim, Enekwachi Kenechukwu whom they kidnapped on New Market Road, Owerri.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Vitalis Onugu, then confirmed it, stating that the suspects shot sporadically into the air as they attempted to escape with their loot, but somehow they were unlucky when they got into an uncompleted building to share their loot. With the assistance of a vigilante group, Onugu said, the police was on their trail and eventually apprehended them.
One of them said to hail from Orodo, Mbaitoli Local Government Area of Imo state, escaped while in police net, according to the PPRO, who paraded the suspects before journalists at the police command headquarters, Owerri, outlined some of the items recovered from them: One English berretta pistol, two rounds of live ammunition, a locally made double- barreled gun with six cartridges, N45,000 cash, one big bag of Indian hemp and objects suspected to be charms, among other exhibits.
The story of abduction is not different in Anambra State where a traditional ruler of Ukpo Community in Dunukofia Local Government, Robert Chukwudilim Eze was abducted. The Advocate learnt that the kidnapped Eze is also a relation to Chief Arthur Eze, a business mogul. It was gathered that Igwe Eze was abducted around 11.20 a.m. in his palace after he attended a church service at St. Mary’s Anglican Church, Upko.
An eyewitness said the traditional ruler had just alighted from his black Hilux security van when the assailants abducted him, adding that four gunmen stormed the palace in a green jeep and shot at the vehicle when the driver and the personal assistance to the traditional ruler refused to open the door.
A Spanish medical doctor, Joe Machimbarrena, was also a victim in Enugu, the capital city of Enugu State. "Dr Joe", as he is fondly called by his colleagues at Niger Foundation Hospital, Enugu, got kidnapped on April 4 while returning home from work.
The kidnappers, who were heavily armed, intercepted his car, dragged him into their own vehicle and took him away and they were yet to contact the relatives of their victim or the Hospital authorities as at Sunday, April 15. All the same, Dr. Joe was later released on April 21, 2012 after spending over two weeks in the hands of his kidnappers.
Cases of kidnapping in the zone seemed to reach a crescendo when some social outlaws such as the infamous Abia State-born Mr. Obioma Nwankwo, alias Osisikankwu, got neck-deep into the anti-social act; he and his gang kidnapped their victims with impunity, and sometimes torturing and even murdering the unfortunate ones when the ransom they demanded was not fast coming. While Osisikankwu was in the saddle with his gang, he held Abia State on the throat and his men terrorized Abia and neighbouring states.
His evil activities climaxed with the abduction of 15 school children of a private school in Aba which drew the ire of the Federal Government and the subsequent deployment of soldiers to the state. But just like any other problem that has a beginning which will eventually come to an end, Osisikankwo and his reign of terror came to a sudden end.
Osisikankwu was gunned down during a gun battle with soldiers of the special task force in Abia state from the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu, code named Operation Jubilee, after an ambush at an evil forest near the Obokwe market in Ukwa West Local Government Area.
Reacting to the kidnap kingpin’s death, Bro. Samuel Ajayi of John 3:16 Ministries, described Osisikankwu’s demise as victory of good over evil. Ajayi, the man, who reportedly prophesied the calamity that befell Aba about three years before “hell began to fall down on the Enyimba city”, and subsequently carried out spiritual battle to all parts of Ngwaland to sanitise the area, expressed joy and delight for the death of the bandit. He said he would have been surprised if Osisikankwu was not apprehended within this period.
So many efforts have been made to control the high rate of kidnapping. The World Igbo Congress,WIC, had on different occasions proposed the use of location-based technology to track and apprehend kidnappers who have laid siege to the region.
The group made the proposal after an emergency teleconference it held on October 9, last year to look critically at avenues and possible “commitments towards alleviating the state of siege in Igbo land occasioned by unmitigated incidents of armed robbery and kidnapping, especially in Abia State.”
The group in its communiqué entitled, “Emergency Worldwide Teleconference on the State of Siege: Armed Robbery and Kidnapping in Igboland,” signed by its Chairman, Joe Nze Eto; Secretary-General, Chief Cyril Nwaguru; Chair WIC Security Committee, Chukwuereka Egwim, and Executive Director, Dr. Anthony Ejiofor said its consultants on technology would lead the implementation strategy to ensure its smooth operation.
The WIC enjoined the governors in the zone to deploy their monthly security allocations in addressing crucial security issues in their domain. But the prompt action has not been taken and so how can such problem be solved without the cooperation of the government?
Why kidnapping has persisted in the zone is that some security agents especially have seen it as money-spinning venture. Recently, a Divisional Police Officer, DPO, at Osisioma in Aba, Abia state was accused of leading a notorious kidnapping gang. The police authorities quickly arrested the officer and took him to Abuja for interrogation.
There is also the belief that if government and private individuals will be sincere enough to providing useful and rewarding employment opportunities for the sea of jobless youths roaming about, the high rate of anti-social activities will reduce drastically.
At any rate, if some bad eggs in Nigeria’s security network are involved in the abduction, the fear is that kidnapping will not end very soon, rather it will continue perhaps until only God knows when.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 August 2012 14:44