Kidnappings: Commercial buses now target in Rivers

Posted On 18 Sep 2016
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ON SEPTEMBER 15, 20161:00 AM

the way out by lawyers, others By Jimitota Onoyume

Penultimate Friday, 14 Nestoil company staff were reportedly abducted in their company bus around Omoku, headquarters of Ogba Egbema Ndoni Local Government Area, Rivers State.

The kidnappers later abandoned the bus after moving the oil company staff to their hideout. At the time of this report, they are still in the custody of the kidnappers.

The Rivers State Police Public Relations Officer, Omoni Nnamdi said Policemen were combing bushes all over the area searching for the hostages.

Hijack of buses loaded with passengers seem to be the trendy crime in the state, particularly between Elele and Rumuji portion of the East West Road.

On June 4, gunmen also hijacked a commercial bus coming from Buguma, diverting some of the passengers to their hideouts leaving others to go.

In August, similar kidnap took place on Elele link road, this time the gunmen allegedly set the bus on fire before disappearing with the passengers into a hide out. The Police spokesman, Omoni confirmed the release of the hostages after some days. It was gathered that inter state commercial buses has become the target of the kidnappers.

The kidnappers, according to sources demand for the ATM of their victims and then take time to withdraw all in their accounts while the hostages are with them.

“The kidnappers keep the hostages in their custody, demand for their ATMS and ensure they withdraw all the money there before releasing them. In other cases, they ask the hostages to call people to send money for their release,” a source said.

Meanwhile, the Police confirmed last week rescue of passengers of God is God Motors kidnapped on the East West road on September 5.

Spokesman of the state Police Command, Omoni said that the hostages were rescued in a bush in Ndele/Elele Alimini axis of the East West Road.

“The Command had earlier rescued the Deputy Controller of Prisons, DCP Michael Okorie and his two children ages 10 and 12years who were kidnapped along the same Ndele/ Rumuekpe axis of the East-West Road. The kidnap Victims were rescued unhurt and unconditionally and have since reunited with their families after being debriefed,” the Police said. Vanguard Law and Human Rights gathered that the Prisons officer was driving in his vehicle with his two children when they were taken hostage.

A former Vice Chancellor, Enugu State University of Technology and renowned sociologist with passion for development theories, Prof Mark Anikpo blamed the upsurge in kidnapping and related crimes in the state on the economic downturn.

“Crime can have several causes. The one in Rivers state has to do with the Economic situation, it is escalated by the economic downturn. So you see a lot of people looking for unconventional ways to survive.

“I don’t think poverty is the cause of crime otherwise everybody in our villages will be criminals. What we see are people who have been living a lifestyle. While a lot of people are suffering, there are others who are living in affluence. So how do you tell those living in poverty that there is no money,” he said.

He urged government to provide sources of income for teeming unemployed youths roaming the streets, adding that the government should also secure trust of her citizens.

“Government should provide sources of income for the young people and also make attempt to build trust from the people to tackle the problem. There is no trust at all, everybody seem to be on their own.

“The government should be seen to be tackling the problem, telling us that change begins with me actually means nothing,” he said.

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Ifedayo Adedipe, said that Policemen should be giving more training on crime fighting, stressing, that stiffer penalty like 25 years imprisonment should be prescribed for kidnapping.

“Kidnapping has been with us in the state in last 10 years or so, taking people for ransom.

“We need proactive security. We have to come back to policing our society. We do not have enough policemen not to talk of crime fighting equipment. The government should spend enough on security. Policemen should be given more training. More security personnel should go to the local government areas. The communities know who is who. We need to police and protect people.

“The penalty for this crime, kidnapping should be stiffer. Though I am against capital punishment but penalty for kidnapping should not be less than 25 years to deter others.

“Our traditional leaders, intellectual leaders should organise massive campaigns against kidnapping. There should be sensitisation in the media against kidnappings.

“I believe these are some of the things that should be done. Community Leaders should be able to call their youths to order, after all these criminals belong to communities. Situations where we reward criminality with stipends is wrong, political elites , leaders need to do more. These are my views on the way out.

Former Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, President, Mr Okey Wali, SAN, said government should take necessary steps to tackle the problem.

Wali who was a victim of kidnap in the state some time ago also called on security operatives to do more.

He said, “We all expect that government should do its best. We know that the responsibility of government include security of lives and property.

“We urge government to stop at nothing in ensuring that security effective in the state in such a way that the people will be safe. The details of what they should do as a lawyer I cannot say.

“I pray government is able to deal with the problem quickly. You can’t talk about investment without security. Security agencies, the police, army and all hands should be on deck to tackle the problem.

“I have never been an advocate of state Police because if you know a little of our history as a nation it did not work. The signs are there today that it won’t work. Let’s strengthen the police to do her job.

“ Also Mr Richard Anthony, another lawyer, said government should focus on the law to fight crime. According to him, when laws are enforced it will reduce crime in the system.

“The first thing to be done is that government should focus on the law and respect the law. This will help a lot.

Respect for the law should come from the government and the security agencies.

“When the laws are enforced, we will have a better society. The current economic recession in Nigeria is also part of the problem.

“I see a lot of protest coming soon with the recession. And this may lead to human rights violations. So government should address issues critically. Government should adopt human rights based approach to development.”

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