The Nigerian Senate, yesterday, agreed to begin a process for the enactment of a law that would prescribe capital punishment for kidnappers across the country.
The Senate also asked state governments to enact laws that would prosecute kidnappers and other crime-related offences in their jurisdiction and recommended that the Inspector General of Police and Director-General of the Department of State Services, DSS, in particular as well as other security agencies be encouraged to do more.
These resolutions of the Senate were sequel to the consideration of a report of the Joint Committee on Police Affairs, National Security and Intelligence in respect of a motion on the unfortunate recurrence of kidnapping and hostage-taking in Nigeria, entitled, “A National Wake-Up Call.”
The Senate also recommended that the funding of security agencies be taken as a priority project, bearing in mind that the practice of envelop budgetary for security agencies had proved ineffective, adding that efforts should be put in place to create employment opportunities for the nation’s teaming unemployed youths.
It also agreed that security agencies should embark on training and retraining of their personnel for effective capacity building.
The Senate equally stated that synergy and information sharing between security agencies should be pursued vigorously.
The recommendation for death penalty, as adopted by the Senate, was recommended by Senator Adamu Aliero (APC-Kebbi Central) as an additional recommendation after the six resolutions were already adopted by the lawmakers.
In his contribution, Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, noted that family members of kidnapped persons go through psychological trauma, having experienced it himself.
He said: “Just recently, one of my relations also was kidnapped. So, I believe I am talking as an expert or an experienced person in kidnapping. I know the psychology of kidnappers because I stayed for two days with them.
“These are normal human beings who are sometimes looking for money and also afraid of security agencies. I think there are three types of kidnappers. There are some who kidnapped either to make a statement or to intimidate the government, like the Boko Haram people and the Niger Delta militants.
“Then there is another type of kidnappers, these are just normal armed robbers. Sometimes, they just kidnapped you, put you in the boot and they can even use the vehicle as an escape or they use it to rob.
“Such kidnappers, once they succeed, it’s either they take away the vehicle, use it or they dump their victim. But the third type, which is very dangerous, is the professional kidnappers, who kidnapped for money and that is the one we are focusing on this afternoon.
“We have encouraged this type of kidnapping because we panic and pay money most times. This kind of kidnappers, when they take you, they put you somewhere else and they can refer you to negotiate so that they can set you free and go for another business.
“Most times, our people are reluctant to delay or endure the inconvenience or the hardship and then they quickly negotiate and if we can discourage this kind of kidnappings, the only way forward is to insist that you will not pay.”
Firing squad for kidnappers.
Also in his contribution, Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West), recommended firing squad for kidnappers.
While contributing to the report, the Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio (PDP, Akwa Ibom), regretted that kidnapping escalated in Nigeria when ex-governor and now Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige, was kidnapped around 2002.
Earlier in the presentation of the report, Chairman of the Joint Committee, Senator Abu Ibrahim, noted that the Senate at its sitting on Thursday, November 19, 2015, deliberated on a motion on the unfortunate recurrence of kidnappings and hostage-taking in Nigeria.
According to him, the Senate at the time, mandated its Committees on Police Affairs and National Security and Intelligence to invite the Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, Director-General, and Department of State Services, DSS, Lawal Daura, to brief the committees on efforts to eliminate the menace.
According to him, in the course of the briefing, the Director-General of DSS told the committee that in October 2015, a total of 108 kidnap and sea piracy incidents in 24 states in which 180 victims, including 26 foreigners, were involved.
He listed the states to include Abia, Adamawa; Akwa Ibom; Anambra, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Bayelsa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, Imo, Kebbi, Kaduna, Kogi, Kwara, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Rivers, Sokoto and Zamfara.
N85m demanded, N28m paid by victims
Senator Ibrahim, who disclosed that N84,500,000 was reportedly demanded same month as ransom by kidnappers, said some victims’ family/employers purportedly paid a total of N28,016,000 ransom.
According to him, the committee was told that in November, 2015, a total of 117 incidents were recorded, involving 151 victims spread across 23 states.
Security agencies in unhealthy rivalry
Senator Ibrahim said the committee observed that there appeared to be unnecessary and unhealthy rivalry among the security agencies, leading to lack of required synergy and intelligence sharing on time. He added that relations of the victims were always ready to pay ransom which tended to encourage the criminals.
He said the committee also observed that security agencies had not been able to perform optimally due to lack of modern technology and equipment.