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Insecurity in South-East: Military might to the rescue

OMUGO is an Igbo word which finds relevance in allmost all Nigerian tribes.It is an exercise every Nigerian  mother  looks forward to with enthusiasm. So, what is Omugo? It is a mother’s visit to her daughter, who has just been delivered of a baby. The aim of the visit is to care for mother and child.

Most women look forward to this great moment. They really do not give thought to distance because you  can become a laughing stock when you ignore Omugo. It was this duty  that sent  Mrs. Kesiah Umeh on  a journey  to Kano.  When  she left Anambra State, the 62-year-old grandmother’s joy was boundless, as she was overwhelmed by the prospects of taking care of her new grandchild.

But before she could settle for her mission,  tragedy struck in broad day light. Mrs. Umeh was killed after she was abducted at gunpoint in the residence of her daughter in Nomansland area  in Kano.  The deceased, who  came to the ancient city  to assist her daughter after childbirth, was confirmed dead barely five days after her abduction. She was dumped at Samat Clinic, Hadejia Road, Kano.

“They also tied the hands of the young helper in the compound like a goat. Then, mama was lying on the floor, but thereafter, they asked her to get up and took her away even though she had difficulty coping with their pace,” the deceased daughter Ifeayinwa Okafor narrated.

Though the  police have since swung into action to get to the root of the matter, the incident remains one out of the growing litany of kidnap cases in the country.

When kidnapping began early 2006, nobody  thought it would last long or  get to this monstrous dimension. Back then, many regarded the hostage takers as inexperience. Thus, they thought it would fizzle out. But the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) who claimed responsibility for the first kidnap proved it meant business.

While Vanguard Features, VF, can say with a measure of authority that abduction has ceased in the Niger Delta region where it began-a situation many attributed to the amnesty programme of the Federal Government, kidnapping is now common place in Nigeria’s East region.

The  States of Abia, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi and Imo have been under the siege of kidnappers who have made life unbearable for the residents and visitors alike.

It was discovered that the syndicates which are believed to  have various detention camps in different states across the region kidnap persons primarily to extract ransom from their helpless relatives. Sometimes, they rake in millions of naira from their wealthy victims and hundreds of thousands from the middle class.

The sad part of the entire business is  that no victim has been released without his or her relation part with some sums of money.

In some instances, even when a ransom is paid, the kidnappers or their negotiators would continue to make more demands failing which they then threaten to kill the captive.

It is common knowledge in the South Eastern states that the activities of kidnappers is spreading like wild fire across the five states and the consequences on the economy of these  states is alarming.

VF investigations revealed  that many now wonder why the maliase was allowed to get to this alarming rate. Before now,  the Federal government had looked the other way, perhaps with a feeling that the states would deal with the situation. But as it is  presently, the government has no choice but wade into the matter.

This perhaps explains  the recent order for a joint military operations to flush out kidnappers in the South East by President Goodluck Jonathan.

The President who described the situation as worrisome, directed the nation’s security operatives to urgently engage joint military operations to tackle the menace.

While this is an indication that initiators of this idea, believe that joint military might would solve the problem Dr. Sylvanus Ebigwei, National President of Akaikenga, observes that the Nigerian leadership  needs to look beyond military might in the search for solution to the problem.

The President of the Pan-Igbo Socio Cultural organisation told VF that, “the issue involves getting  the root of the crisis. Military action can not be the solution. Did it work in the Niger Delta? It should be solved by doing what was done in the Niger Delta.

Give amnesty to the kidnappers and when they come out you give them jobs, some of these people don’t have jobs. But Ambassador Segun Olusola, sees nothing wrong in sending the military to the East.

Driving home his position, Olusola, who is the Founder of African Refugees Foundation, said, “I have no objection in the Federal government deploying troupe to that region, but I am more interested with what each state government is doing locally to tackle it.

And they must use the local governments because that is the grassroots government. I don’t think the Federal government should be left alone with the sledge hammer. I think all tiers of government need to cooperate to tackle this problem.”

Like Olusola, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Emeka Ngige noted that  no effort should be spared in the search for solution.

For the Legal practitioner, “the issue is what is the cause of kidnapping? It is unemployment. If you bring police to man every house in Nigeria without creating employment for the youths, you will continue to see manifestations of kidnapping via disgruntlement, robbery and other crimes, and I may agree with the aspect of federal presence to an extent, but without doing the right things, no amount of federal presence can stop kidnaping. But no effort should be spared in fighting the crime.”

According to Chief Amachi Afamefula, Chairman Abia Vanguard, “kidnapping is spreading because of absence of good governance. So the poverty level is a factor in this problem.”  “Government, has done nothing to create wealth”, he said.

For instance, under international regulations, Nigeria’s government is bound to ensure socio-economic rights which will sustain a dignified standards of living. The framework includes, among others, the provisions of various International Labour Organisation Conventions, the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and UN conventions on the rights of women and children.

From all indications, no concrete steps have been taken by the government to ameliorate extreme poverty in Nigeria almost two decades after the ratification of the ICESCR. For many, statements and policies on poverty reduction appear to have been mere rhetoric.

“I believe that each state government should be able to design a local response to the problem. And I really don’t know when and why our country got to this state. Why is that this thing has become disastrous in the Southeast. It has become so bad that hoodlums now kidnapp for money and sometimes they kill their victims. We need to tackle this problem from the family to the law enforcement level,” Olusola told VF.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.