By Mike Ebonugwo
THE recent kidnap of popular actor and humour merchant, Nkem Owoh aka Osuofia came to many bus-stop parliamentarians as a rude shock and they have have been giving vent to their feelings over the development.
â€œI donâ€™t know what is wrong with these kidnappers sef, what has Osuofia done to them that they should go and kidnap him?â€ complained a parliamentarian by name Francis Adio at a recent bus-stop gathering in Oshodi. He did not stop there.
â€œThe man is not a politician now or a money-miss-road businessman that they can kidnap and make a lot of money from the ransom. Somebody like him should be respected because of the way he has been using his acting talent to make everybody happy,â€ he posited with feeling.
Another parliamentarian, HectorÂ Okpe quickly responded thus: â€œThe kidnappers we have now donâ€™t discriminate when it comes to kidnapping people. As long as they feel that you have made some money or have somebody behind you who have money to bail you if they kidnap you, they will not waste anytime in doing so.
I suspect that they must have kidnapped Osuofia because they believe he has made a lot of money from acting or that being somebody who is popular, government and many of his fans will be ready to raise the money to pay for his ransomâ€.
Parliamentarian Cosmas Ibiam chipped in thus: â€œItâ€™s even possible that they didnâ€™t know who he was as at the time they kidnapped him. Maybe they just saw somebody riding in a fine, expensive car and felt that he was one big man like that and so decided to kidnap him. And having done so and discovering their mistake, they just felt that it will still be good for them to make some money from it before releasing himâ€.
Hector immediately disagreed, saying: â€œNo way, they must have known him. Otherwise they would not have asked his family N15 million in order to release him. The fact is that Osuofia is not a poor man by any standard; he has made some money and these kidnappers are aware of this.
Somehow they are not only convinced that Osuofia has enough money to pay the ransom, they also know that even if he does not have up to that amount, there are many people, including government officials who will be willing to help him outâ€.
To this Adio said: â€œThat is why I say those kidnappers are completely unreasonable. Even if Osuofia has made a lot of money is that the reason why they should kidnap him? If they are looking for people to kidnap why donâ€™t they concentrate on these politicians that have been stealing our money and whose action is responsible for the economic hardship many of us are facing in this country?
Kidnapping a hard-working actor like Osuofia and asking him and his family to pay them N15 million in ransom is sheer madnsss. Are they now saying that they are entitled to the money he has so worked hard to make?â€
This comment prompted parliamentarian Soji Banjo to make this submission: â€œThat is where I donâ€™t understand these Igbo boys who are now doing the kidnapping. When kidnapping started in the Niger Delta, it was mostly used as a protest against the non-development of the area even though that is where all our crude oil comes from. But the Igbo boys have now commercialised it and using it to make profit.
So anybody that has money that now makes the mistake of venturing into the South East is in trouble. In fact, I heard that most rich Igbo men and womenÂ no longer travel to their states without tight security. Those who cannot organise their security stay back wherever they are. That is how serious the situation has becomeâ€.
But Cosmas did not share this sentiment and said so. â€œItâ€™s not a matter of where kidnapping is now common. The fact is that kidnapping is another evidence of the desperate situation we all find ourselves in this country. Things are not just working because government appears to be asleep,â€ he said.
His comment elicited mixed reactions.