Outrage over the rising insecurity in the country grew on Thursday as stakeholders demanded tough actions by the Federal Government against kidnappers.
Those who advised the Federal Government on the kidnapping epidemic included the Supreme Council for Sharia, South-South governors, residents of affected communities, and the National Association of Nigeria Students.
Abductions, which were previously restricted to the North-West, have in recent times spread to other parts of the country including Lagos, Ogun and Delta states as well as the Federal Capital Territory.
The crisis came to a head last week when bandits took their battles to the FCT when they kidnapped 23 people in the Bwari area of the federal capital.
As part of efforts to tackle the menace, the Federal Government on Wednesday warned against raising funds for ransoms.
Expressing concern about the abduction epidemic, the South-South governors on Thursday urged the Federal Government to do more in the management of security in the country.
In a communiqué, read by Obaseki, the governors said the meeting was held at a critical time in the history of Nigeria as the country faces enormous challenges.
The governors said, “It’s against this background that the South-South region must redefine its place and roles in the economic development of Nigeria and for the benefit of our people.’’
The governors also promised to “engage the Federal Government on the development of key infrastructure in the region particularly roads, rail development and the decentralization and rehabilitation of seaports in the region as well as management of security in the country at large.”
Also, the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria on Thursday urged President Bola Tinubu to deploy the full range of resources in the country’s arsenal against elements fuelling insecurity nationwide.
The Vice President of the council, Dr Bashir Umar, spoke to State House correspondents after the closed-door meeting with Tinubu at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, said the delegation asked him to “expedite action to cushion the effect of the hard economic decisions that were taken and also to request that he brings out everything that is in the arsenal to face the problem of insecurity and to also achieve food security.”
On its part, the National Association of Nigerian Students called for the declaration of a state of emergency on the security situation in the country.
The Clerk of the students’ Senate body, Oladimeji Uthman, disclosed this in a telephone conversation with The PUNCH on Thursday.
Uthman said, “The National Association of Nigerian Students is gravely concerned about the escalating security crisis in Nigeria, particularly the surge in kidnapping and banditry that has disproportionately affected the Northern region and other zones of the country. Recent events, including the abduction of a 400-level student at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and the tragic killing of Nabeeha Al-Kadriyar, underscore the urgent need for decisive action.
“In light of these alarming developments, NANS respectfully urges the Federal Government of Nigeria to declare a state of emergency in the affected areas, with a specific focus on the North. This call for a state of emergency is driven by the audacity and frequency of criminal activities, which pose a severe threat to the safety and security of Nigerian citizens.”
Also, The Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, told The PUNCH said public officials must be patriotic in their dealings.
He said, “Insecurity has become a huge business to wicked public officials while Nigerians are killed, money meant to procure arms and ammunition and training of personnel are being looted just recently a US court ordered that some funds be returned to Nigeria. They will not want insecurity to end. Except people are patriotic and committed to service insecurity will continue. “
Another security analyst, Mr. Dickson Osagie, while calling for the declaration of a state of emergency on the Nigerian security architecture, said political will on the part of those on the corridor to end the insecurity menace would be needed.
He said, “The spate of insecurity in the country is becoming a shame. But I think something is eminent, and that is political will. Solving insecurity is not about military might. The politicians also have a role to play.
“We are suffering from a societal threat that covers everyone. For us to nip this in the bud, we need to declare a state of emergency. The squad by the IGP should be well-trained and provided with all equipment required.”
A retired Deputy Inspector General of Police, Agboola Oshodi-Glover has charged the federal government to set up a security trust fund to support security operatives and assist in purchasing equipment, especially arms, ammunition, and equipment for intelligence gathering.
“The Ministers of Police Affairs and Ministers of Defence should set up a security trust fund to aid the police, military, and other security agencies in acquiring more equipment, especially for intelligence gathering, and supporting their officers and operatives in order to rid the country of insurgents,” Oshodi-Glover said.
In Taraba State, communities in Yorro, Jalingo, Takum, Karim-Lamido, and Bali Local government areas, urged the Federal Government to protect them against bandits.
They lamented that had resorted to the services of local vigilantes and hunters for protection against kidnappers and bandits.
Mallam Nasir Mohammed a resident of Wuro Sembe in Jalingo Local Government said, “We have contributed money and we are paying vigilantes to keep watch over our community.’
But findings by The PUNCH on Thursday indicated that over 155 abductees in Zamfara, Niger, and Delta were being held by bandits, who have turned the crime into a business.
Out of eight corps members and a driver from Akwa Ibom State, who were kidnapped on August 17, 2023, only four of the NYSC members were released, the remaining five people in captivity.
On January 9, bandits invaded the Bwari area of the Federal Capital Territory and kidnapped 23 residents, including six members of the Al-Kadriyar family and six persons from the family of Oladosu Ariyo, the Chief Legal Officer of the National University Commission.
The kidnappers, who are demanding at least N700m ransoms, have, however, killed four of their victims remaining 19 people in the bandits’ den.
Among those killed were Nabeeha and Folorusho Ariyo. Suspected kidnappers have reportedly kidnapped another victim, identified as Suleiman Sabo, at the Sabo Lugbe, Airport Road, Abuja, Thursday night.
Although this latest report of kidnapping has not been confirmed by the security agency, a verified X user, @DejiAdesogan, made this known on the microblogging website on Thursday.
He wrote, “Around 8 p.m. tonight, Mr. Suleiman Sabo was kidnapped at Sabon Lugbe, Airport Road in Abuja. The armed criminals reportedly came with a golf car, shot him and his tires, and kidnapped him.”
Also, no fewer than 17 people that abducted by gunmen in two separate attacks on Tuesday Garam town and Zhibi community both in the Tafa Local Government Area of Niger State are still being held by bandits.
In Delta State, the whereabouts of 14 passengers, who were abducted at Isele-Uku Junction in the State on January 5, 2024 remained unknown.
Most of the passengers were said to be travelling back to Lagos after the Christmas holiday. The driver of the bus identified simply as Mr Obi, who was released, sustained injuries.
He said the kidnappers emerged from a nearby bush when he was changing his vehicle tyres and whisked away the passengers. It was learnt that he was released after paying a ransom.
The worst hit state is Zamfara where hundreds of people are in different camps controlled by various bandit warlords, despite several efforts by both the government and their relations to rescue them.
Four NYS C members and their driver from Akwa Ibom State are still languishing in captivity 155 days after their abduction.
They were kidnapped on Zamfara highway on August 17, 2023 while travelling to Sokoto State.
However, the Police Public Relations Officer, Akwa Ibom State Command, Odiko Macdon, who spoke with The PUNCH on Thursday, said that the state command was working with the Zamfara State command to ensure the release of the NYSC members
He said “ Akwa Ibom State Police command is working in synergy with the Zamfara State command to ensure the release of the remaining NYSC, members still in captivity,” Macdon said.