The accounts of how families of the abducted students of Ahmadu Bello University negotiated with kidnappers, visited them in the forest and made payments to secure the release of their children are worrisome. In sound societies, the leadership of the security agencies along that axis would have been sacked. The nine students were abducted with scores of others on the notorious Kaduna-Abuja highway on November 15 and were kept in the forest for five days. Parents of the ABU 9 had to lead the drive to free their children because of the lackadaisical attitude of the security agents. When the traumatised families eventually struck a deal with the kidnappers, they were asked to congregate in a forest in Chikun Local Government Area and given directions into the specific location of the kidnappers. The kidnappers were so bold. Our security agents were the least of their worries. They went about the deal unperturbed about our so-called policemen and other security agents.
Imagine families going to pay kidnappers for the release of their loved ones and security agents on duty near the kidnappers’ den wishing them well. Yes, that was what happened to the families of the ABU 9. Security operatives along the corridor saw them heading into the forest and wished them luck. One of the parents remarked: “We met with security agents who were patrolling the area while on our way and they asked us where we were going to because it was late at night. We told them we were on our way to pay for the release of our relatives and the security agents wished us good luck.”
Security agents around the kidnappers den in Chikun Local Government were just having fun. I doubt if tracking and apprehending the kidnappers were part of their briefing. They simply looked the other way while parents of the ABU 9 continued their journey into the den of the kidnappers on November 20. It was so depressing. Clearly, this country is in a big security mess. That the venue for the ransom to the kidnappers is near the Kaduna State NYSC camp is even more upsetting. Another parent of the ABU 9 explains: “If you are travelling to Abuja from Kaduna, immediately after the NYSC camp, there is a solar light at a small village called Dutse. By the side, there is a tarred road that goes into Gwagwada but before we got to Gwagwada, there is a road that will lead you to Maro village. It was on our way to Maro that we were diverted into the forest. We are in serious trouble in this country because this thing happened just close to the NYSC camp.” This is happening in my beloved Nigeria.
It is so sad that the kidnappers were communicating with families of the victims via GSM phones for days and yet, security agents did not bother to track them. The abductors demanded a cumulative ransom of N270 million, asking each parent to provide N30 million. They eventually paid between N500,000 and N1,000,000. This is the level Nigeria has degenerated.
It seems there is an official endorsement of ransom to kidnappers. Security agents stand by and even advise families of victims to negotiate well. What else should Nigerians expect when families of security agents also pay to free officers abducted? Back in September, a 33-year-old officer of the Department of State Services, Sadiq Bindawa, who was on a visit to his native Katsina, was traced to his house and abducted. His colleagues at the DSS offices in Katsina and in Abuja could not save him. He was killed even after his family and friends paid N5 million to his abductors. Bindawa worked at the DSS HQ in Abuja. Last September, an army officer, Colonel S.B Onifade was abducted on the Kaduna-Abuja highway and his family/friends paid N10 million to the kidnappers. But Onifade was still killed.
The truth that must be told is that abductions and killings will persist if this government continues to keep the leadership of all security agencies in this country. Leadership has failed our security agents. Besides, our police, DSS, military and the rest are poorly equipped and poorly motivated. As a result, evil people will continue to abduct, rape, collect ransom and will hardly be apprehended. I am shocked that guilt is not gnawing the souls of those charged with the responsibility of protecting hapless Nigerians. Those being paid to protect us are not ashamed of their unending failings. The leadership of the security agencies persistently come out bald-headed, claiming to be on top of the situation, whereas, they are far away from it. I often grimace at their words. Our security agents show frightening ineptitude. We often see captors communicate with families of victims for weeks; yet, security agents are unable to track and smoke them out. Even President Buhari does not know the way out of this security mess.
The latest in Nigeria’s orgy of killings is the murder of a first class traditional ruler in Ondo State, the Olufon of Ifon, Oba Israel Adeusi last Thursday by unknown gunmen. Last Sunday, the chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Nasarawa State, Philip Tatari Shekwo was kidnapped in his house and murdered. His body was dumped few meters from his residence at Anguwar Bukan -Sidi in Lafia metropolis last Sunday. In Rivers State, a former Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Ebenezer Kalabo Amah, was abducted in his house and murdered.
In Kaduna State, an activist, Rabiu Awwal was killed by bandits during an attack in his community on November 20. In Katsina State, bandits attacked PDP’s Chairman in Sabuwa Local Government, Lawal Dako, and shot him severally. He later died from the injuries. The granddaughter of the slain party council chairman was also shot and killed by the bandits during the attack. Last Monday, kidnappers entered Ahmadu Bello University, unhindered and abducted an official of the school at his residence at Main Campus, Samaru. As in previous cases, almost all these killers and kidnappers will never be apprehended. What a country!
While the kidnappings and killings in my beloved Nigeria pour, the level of clumsiness of our security agencies is sickening. A total overhaul is necessary if we want result. To do this, the present leadership of the security agencies must make way for a result- oriented one that will address the issues of leadership, equipment and quality manpower. As for our President, he should be ashamed of this security mess. The buck stops on his table. He should shape in or ship out.