By Dayo Benson
Secondary schools located around waterway are now the easy target of dare devil kidnappers. Police and other security agents appear helpless as Lagos State and indeed the whole nation woke up to a rude shock of another audacious students kidnap from their school hostel by gunmen penultimate week. The latest incident at the Lagos State Model College,
Igbonla, Epe, was the fourth of such mindless effrontery of the criminal syndicate in less than a year and half. So far, a total of 21 secondary school students have been kidnapped within Lagos and Ogun States axis in the last 16 months. Huge ransom were paid to secure the release of previous abductees despite police claims to the contrary.
Kidnappers violated the safe confines of schools premises with the nocturnal abduction of three students of Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary School, Ikorodu, on February 29, 2016. The latest incident was the second time students were kidnapped from the Lagos State Model College in seven months. Four fell victim in October 2016, before the current six. Earlier on January 13,2017, eight were forcefully taken from Turkish International School, Isheri, Ogun State. Unlike the previous cases, only boys were seized this time . The perpetrators are members of notorious militant gang responsible for kidnappings, armed robberies and killings of security agents around Lagos and Ogun States. They operate with speed boats through the surrounding waterways. This was one kidnap too many.
Recently, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, the State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, said henceforth the Office of the Attorney General will work closely with security operatives to ensure that all cases of kidnapping, cultism, rape, sexual and domestic violence crimes are prosecuted to logical conclusions.
It would be recalled that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode recently signed the Anti-Kidnapping Law, which specifies death sentence for kidnappers in the State. The law recommends death for kidnappers in whose custody victims died and life jail for those who kidnapped for ransom. While speaking on the significance of security to his administration, Governor Ambode said: “Security is of utmost importance to our administration and we are confident that this law will serve as a deterrent to anybody who may desire to engage in this wicked act within the boundaries of Lagos”.
The Anti-Kidnapping Law is wide-ranging as it prescribes punishment for the actors, the collaborators, the aiders and those who saw the kidnapping being perpetrated and did nothing about it. Dwelling on the impetus behind the new law, Ambode revealed that kidnapping and all manners of atrocious crimes can no longer be tolerated in the State. Hence, the law is meant to read the riot act to criminals that Lagos is not going to be a safe haven for them. Other measures being put in place by the state government to tackle kidnapping in the state includes improved security system in public schools and other easy targets, particularly popular public places to check kidnapping and other security violations.
That the Lagos state government is according the issue of security the desired attention is quite understandable. Lagos is the most populous state of Nigeria and is the leading non oil sector contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic product (GDP). With three lighter terminals and two ports, Lagos generates 50% of Nigeria’s port revenue and the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, is the major hub for aviation within West Africa, and between the region and Europe. Being the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, and indeed West Africa, like similar mega cities of the world, Lagos has enormous security challenges. Apparently, this makes Lagos a soft target for criminal activities and the law is meant to curb this.
Society has always used the instrumentality of the law to discourage potential criminals from engaging in unlawful actions. The law is meant to trounce evil and evil doers. In any society where the reverse is the case, crimes and criminals would reign supreme. According to Irish Statesman and parliamentarian, Edmund Burke, the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. It is, therefore, gratifying to note that the Lagos State Government is obviously doing something to put an end to kidnapping and related crimes in the State.