By Tony Momoh
Let’s not deceive ourselves.  The kidnappers of four journalists are known.
They are not ghosts, not spirits as the radio jingle tells us.   But they are spirits because every human being’s core is spirit and that is why it beats the imagination that he has lost his sense of his cosmic brief, which is to give more than to take, to serve more than to be served.

The loss is what has narrowed our vision to such an extent that we take the outcome of our derailment as cause rather than the effect.  Oh yes, the kidnappers of four journalists and all other kidnappers and armed and pen robbers are spirits, Nigerians.

They cannot be invisible, otherwise how come they reach out to the people to call to provide the ransom funds they demand.  Unfortunately, the rot in the protection of the lives and property of the people of the South East in general and Abia State in particular must stop.

By pouncing on innocent journalists, people who have fame but no money, they really have bitten more than they can chew.

At the time of writing this, Inspector-General of Police Ogbonna Onovo has given the kidnappers 24 hours to release the victims —  Alhaji Wahab Oba, Chairman of the  Lagos State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists;  Adolphus Okonkwo,  Secretary of Zone G;  Sylva Okereke,  Assistant Secretary of the Lagos Council; and  Sola Oyeyipo,  driver of the vehicle which was taking the journalists along with others from Akwa Ibom where they had gone for a union meeting.

They were captured at the now notorious spot near Aba where there are numerous police checkpoints and many more embarrassing cases of kidnapping.  And because the presidency has given the Inspector-General of Police marching orders to fish out the kidnappers and have the journalists released without harm – at the time of writing this, they had neither been released nor pushed their demand for N250m ransom which they had reduced to N150million.

Also at the time of writing, the IG had called on the Abia State Governor with commissioners of police from the neighbouring states of Imo, Anambra and Akwa Ibom.  They had also arrived there with hired tracking technicians. So, to the embarrassment of Abia State and the South East in general, a name is being made for the Igbo.

They are being referred to as those who have transformed  kidnapping into a business. So their domination of the commercial sector of Nigerian life which sensible people should protect because it cannot be carried out without peace, is being destroyed through acquisition of a name that is not noble.

Some times I wonder if people consider the consequences of their act.
Once upon a time, this kidnapping thing was done in the Niger Delta to make a point, to draw attention to the deprivations the people of the area suffered (and still suffer) in the midst of the God-given resources that others were plundering without a thought for their welfare.

They pleaded and begged for attention. Nobody seemed interested. So they went into kidnapping expatriate workers to draw attention of the international community to their travails.  Unfortunately, it became a money spinner and was a monopoly of the South South until the south east took over.

For almost three years now, it has become increasingly difficult for our children from outside the east to go home without their hearts pounding in fear of kidnappers.

And these kidnappers do not seem to have any rules to their catches any longer, if they had at any time since kidnapping became big business.  And that is the point.

Kidnapping has become big business and people are paying up.  Who won’t in the circumstance?  But there is a price tag on this national embarrassment — investors will not go to any such place where neither their funds nor themselves are safe.

That is why we must, at least in the short run, be preoccupied with wiping out this stinking ulcer on our national foot.  We will have to attend to the causes in due time –like the extremely unsustainable political structures we have adopted in the name of practising democracy and the huge costs that have denied us access to the basic things of life that others take for granted.

Yes, we must attend to the issues in due time, but what is happening now cannot grow this country, cannot grow any part of it.

Extreme measures must be taken to stem the cascading rush of our image   into the depths of infamy.  What evil have we not manifested to the world, without even a thought for the fact that the human species as species has an irreducible level of acceptable behaviour.

Anything below that level makes the one in human form a caricature. We are now the caricatures of the earth, a disgrace to the race of man and the race of the Blacks wherever they may be in the world.  The Inspector-General should spare no effort in wiping out these gadflies in human form.

They are, in the language of the radio jingles, not spirits in the sense that they occupy space in communities governed by law and customs.  They belong in families.  They belong in age-groups that constitute the disciplinary bodies in our 97,000 communities.

In Igbo land, in Abia and Anambra and Enugu and Imo and Ebonyi States, our brothers and sisters belong in age groups.  They are encouraged to build in their communities and everywhere there, you have structures that can compare with any other anywhere else in the world.

These structures are the answers to the clarion calls that they should look homewards, what with the experience of the war years when they lost all they had!  Today, they have answered the call from home, to go to Macedonia and provide help.

The gratitude of the people is now being shown through kidnappings and assassinations, directed towards those who are seen to have made it outside their homes!  That the kidnappers are known points to the fact that kidnapping is a collusive trade.  The high and the low are in it.

The IG should close his eyes and pounce on anyone who is anybody in any community where kidnapping takes place.  I wish I can suggest that no one be exempted in the total raiding of the communities. Everyone must prove their innocence.  Let’s turn the heat on the innocent.  Yes, the innocent, if that is what will bring sanity to the East.

P/S: As I wanted to send this piece to the editor, I received a most senseless piece of information. A young man I met at a wedding I chaired some time ago in Lagos had been kidnapped at his home in Ihenbosi.

He is Chief Chukwuebuka Onunkwo, the president general of Ihenbosi Community in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State.  He lives in Cotonou and has grown his community more than any other person in recent years!

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