By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbarakwu
ABUJA—DISTURBED by the spate of kidnap cases across the country, the House of Representatives yesterday asked the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on kidnapping in Nigeria.
Towards this end, the House at plenary, resolved that the Federal Government should urgently convene a security summit that will include all security agencies, all GSM service providers, the House committees on national intelligence, Army, Air Force, Navy, Police and communication to fashion an effective response to the kidnapping phenomenon.
The lawmakers also directed the House Committee on Legislative Compliance to ensure compliance and report back to the House within three weeks.
This developments were sequel to a motion promoted by Rep Babatunde Kolawole, APC, Ondo under matters of national importance entitled:’Need For The Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on kidnapping in the country.’
Kolawole in his submission, noted that “in the last ten years, the incidence of kidnapping for ransom in the country had escalated to a very disturbing level and had reached a point where no one is safe anymore.”
According to him, the NYA International, London-based firm that gathers intelligence on crime, reports that in first quarter of 2013 alone, Nigeria had the most kidnap attempts in the world, accounting for 26 per cent of all such recorded incidents, followed by Mexico with 10 per
cent and Pakistan with 7percent.
He further explained that as at “2014 Nigeria was number 5 in the global kidnapping hotspots.”
He went down memory lane listing all the prominent Nigerians that were kidnapped which include former President Goodluck Jonathan’s foster father, 72 years old Inengite Nitabai,who was kidnapped from his home in Otuoke in Bayelsa State on Tuesday, February 16, 2016, he was released in March after 35 days, among others.
Kaduna State House of Assembly member, Ibrahim Ismail, who was kidnapped on Tuesday, August 23 and released the next day, among others.
Margaret Emefiele, wife of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Governor, Godwin Emefiele, Mrs Emefiele, who was kidnapped on Thursday, September 29, 2016, was released on Saturday, October 1, 2016.
Former Minister of Environment Laurencia Mallam, and her husband Pius Mallam, were kidnapped along Bwari/Jere road on Monday, 3rd October, 2016.
House of Representatives member from Katsina, Hon Sani Bello Mashi, was also kidnapped alongside his aide at Goburawa village, Birnin Gwari area of Kaduna state on his way to his farm in August this year.
Before that; Mike Ozekhome, a human rights lawyer, in August 2013, Archbishop Ignatius Kattey and his wife, September 6, 2013, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Mrs Kamene Okonjo mother of former Minister of Finance, Mrs Okonjo Iweala who was kidnapped in 2013, Chief Olu Falae, a chieftain of the SDP, from Ondo state was kidnapped in 2015 and thousands of other unreported cases because of people’s distrust in our security agencies.
The lawmaker expressed dismay that “some victims are deliberately executed when ransom is not forthcoming or when security agents move in, while some are killed even after ransom must have been paid, making kidnapping the new face of terrorism.
“School children are no longer safe as shown by the kidnapping of 3 female students from Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary School in Ikorodu, Lagos state on Monday, February 29, 2016 and two principals of Lagos state Model College, Igbonla, Epe , Lagos who were kidnapped early Thursday October, 6 2016.
“Nigeria is now seen as the kidnap capital of the world having risen from 475 reported cases in 2011, 500 in 2012 tp presently over 1,500 cases annually.
At this point, the presiding officer, Speaker Yakubu Dogara asked lawmakers to contribute to the debate.
The lawmakers could not hide their emotions as they gave various accounts of the experiences of their constituents across 774 local governments in Nigeria.
The Majority Whip Alhassan Ado Doguwa, APC, Kano in his narrative told lawmakers how 26 farmers and four women were kidnapped in his constituency and were rescued by the “this morning, Wednesday,by the police that carried out a rescue mission”.
“I think there is need for us to constantly check the executive arm of government on security issues”.
In his contribution, Tope Olayonu, APC, Kwara observed that “when it was happening in the South South and the South East nobody said anything as I’m cock sure that the sponsor of this motion must be directly or indirectly affected”.
“But the truth must be said because not until it has affected the north nobody felt drastic measures should be taken”
“My candid suggestion is that any police command that kidnappers succeed in getting anybody kidnapped, the head of the command should be prosecuted”.
The deputy leader of the House Rep Buba Jibril, APC, Kogi in his view said” the only place that is safe in my state Kogi is the capital, once you leave the capital you have to be very careful or you get into trouble.
The Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, PDP, Delta in his contribution, asked his colleagues whether”there is anybody here that has not heard of kidnap cases in his or constituency in the chamber”.
“I’m also challenging anybody here to confirm to this noble House that there are no kidnappers in their constituencies”.
“So you can see that it is a total state of insecurity which must be properly tackled”.
Rep Jagaba Adams Jagaba, APC, Kaduna told his colleagues how kidnappers allowed a victim to go home and bring money to rescue himself based on personal recognition.
He explained that “my constituent went home sold some of his personal effects went back to the kidnappers and paid them N6000 and he was freed”.
At this juncture, Rep Buba Jibril moved that the motion should be amended to further reflect that Legislative Compliance committee should be briefing the House periodically on the issue.
The amendment was put to vote by the speaker and it was carried.
A second amendment moved by Rep Jagaba Adams Jagaba called for the inclusion of money in the 2017 budget to purchase hi-tech security gadgets such as trackers to trace kidnappers.
The second amendment was also carried by the House.
Finally, the presiding officer, Yakubu Dogara put the resolutions to a voice vote, the ays carried the day.