By Albert IGWE
THEY say he who wears the shoe knows where it pinches him. The Governor Theodore Orji-led administration had after a careful study of the prevailing situation come out with the verdict that it was politically-motivated.
Indeed recent events have confirmed that most of the kidnaps incidents were in most cases sponsored and fuelled by some enemies of the state for both economic and political reasons. For instance, media reports had it that a local government boss and some traditional rulers were implicated in some of the incidents and are already facing trial. Same as a clergy man who failed to blow the whistle on some kidnappers who used a building adjoining his church as a hide-out or den for keeping their victims.
Another curious factor worth nothing is the fact that apart from Aba, the kidnapping incident was more pronounced in Obingwa, Osisioma and Ukwa West areas of the state where some self-confessed opponents of the Governor are said to have sworn to make ungovernable. And for a long time, these areas were dubbed the axis of evil because of the prevalence of kidnappings there.
On insinuations in some quarters that Gov. Orji largely appeared confused and helpless in responding to the problem and therefore failed to safeguard his state from these marauding kidnappers, I will say that nothing can be further from the truth. This is because, to the best of my knowledge, he took all the necessary steps to nip the problem in the bud when it first reared its ugly head.
Even though his power as the chief security officer of the state is limited by the Constitution which vests the Federal Government with controlling authority over the armed forces and the police, the Governor had in collaboration with the police moved to ensure that adequate security was provided in the state in response to the exigency of the time.
Apart from assisting the police with needed logistics to do their job, government also embarked on a campaign to sensitize the people on the need to cooperate with security agents by providing information about undesirable elements, including kidnappers in their midst. This appeal was particularly directed at indigenes and residents of areas where kidnapping had become endemic. They were also warned of the dire consequences of shielding criminals as security agents would not spare anyone found culpable in this regard.
Another step taken by government to contain the situation was the introduction of an amnesty programme for repentant kidnappers or those willing to give up their criminal occupations for more legitimate ones.
Government had made this offer on the understanding that some of the kidnappers were lured into the crime by its lucrative appeal after years of being unemployed. The amnesty was also for those recruited and sponsored by some enemies of the Chief Orji government to erode administrative authority in the state through kidnapping activities and other criminal exploits.
Although it is not on record that many of those so targeted actually accepted the amnesty as offered, the state government was not discouraged in its quest to find a solution to the problem. And when it became obvious that the kidnappers were gaining the upper over the police in the battle for the soul of the state, the Governor did not hesitate in appealing to the federal authorities for help. The outcome of this is that President Goodluck Jonathan had promptly issued a presidential directive which led to the JTF deploying troops in Abia State which succeeded in flushing out the kidnappers and sending them and their sponsors packing.
That is why Abians are today celebrating their freedom from the hostage of criminals and the return of sanity in the state.