Simply Unacceptable! | Independent Newspapers Limited
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COLUMNIST, Columnists

Simply Unacceptable!

Posted: Sep 25, 2015 at 12:16 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The abduction of Chief Olu Falae, ex-Finance Minister and one-time Secretary to the Federal Government on Monday is simply unacceptable. It is one of those realities of our time that must not be allowed to stand. I’m not trying to live in denial if I declare that we should reject what has happened to the revered septuagenarian. What I am saying is that it should not be put down or recorded as one of those events of the day, one of those egregious happenings that characterize our low age.

This kidnap should move us to deal a final blow on the menace before it becomes a monster we can’t tame. Boko Haram did it with more than 200 girls in Chibok and got away with it, even after the crime jostled the whole of Nigeria along with the international community. Lesser criminal groups and individuals have followed suit all over the nation to have their names tagged to this crime.

One can do tomes on them and their victims: Orkamene Okonjo, Christian Obodo, Kenneth Emeakayi, Mike Ozekhome, Donu Kogbara, Toyin Nwosu etc.

Nigeria is a land where imitation is an industry. We don’t, to a large extent, initiate ideas. We bide our time for someone to start an enterprise, to develop and put into practice a profitable idea. When it starts to thrive to the point of morphing into a wagon, as it were, we jump into it in our thousands to make it a band wagon. We are not creative enough to chip in an identity of change and difference on the original brand. We swallow the idea hook, line and sinker, as the archaic idiom goes.

And so, once there is a media report of the lucrative felony of abduction in one part of the country, you find it duplicated in other sections of the land. If it was successful and the culprits were not arrested, why would it also not be successful elsewhere? If the criminals got away with it the way Boko Haram and the captors of those we mentioned above did, it follows, as the day follows the night that these gangsters would also not be caught and dealt with. If these hoodlums were paid princely sums for their wrongdoings, of course it is evidence that crime pays and should be practiced.

Why these vermin are confident about the positive outcome of their activities is principally because they see Nigeria as one single unsecured theatre of operation. It is the same rulers in place everywhere, even if they are of different political parties. It is the same security apparatus, be it the Armed Forces, Police or DSS. If all these couldn’t stop the criminals in the far North of Nigeria, how would they stop their ilk from invading a farm land somewhere in Akure in the South West where a poor unprotected former presidential candidate is quietly enjoying his superannuation?

Some 24 hours after the Falae saga, the nation witnessed a near-encore of the Chibok affair. Heavily armed men broke into Christ’s Girls’ School, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State at 1:30am. Following Divine intervention, the gunmen did not rape the students. They did not remember Chibok. But they vandalized school property and took away several desktops and laptops. Somehow, they did not go to the girls’ hostel at all. They confined themselves to the Administration Block.

We have a grave challenge threatening to overwhelm us in Nigeria. A populace faced with severe economic depression of cash drought, rising inflation, unemployment, unpaid wages running into several months of salary arrears, unhonoured pension commitments to the vulnerable and aged etc. is also compelled to battle insecurity. Distraught citizens are left on their own to look for money to pay for the return of loved ones when kidnappers strike.

What the brigands may hail as their prowess and success story each time they upstage the citizens is actually the failure of the state and its policing machinery. It is poor and dumb intelligence gathering at work not criminals displaying their skills. It is the absence of synergy between security personnel and the community. It is the result of over-centralization of police duties. It is the lack of the state police in Nigeria’s federal system. It is also the lack of the use of the forensic technology of tracking criminals when they use their phones to negotiate ransom with relations of victims.

The government needs to address these fatal shortcomings by declaring an emergency in the security sector nationwide. More well trained policemen and undercover personnel with both modern equipment and intelligence-gathering techniques should come on board. We are grossly under-policed with those at our disposal akin to unarmed Boy Scouts when placed side by side with armed robbers, kidnappers, pipeline vandals and other denizens of the underworld.

The police that can confront and conquer these anti-social characters must also seek the friendship and cooperation of the community in which they operate so they can be fed with useful confidential information about the movement of criminals. These policemen and women must be humane enough to treat civilians with respect, even when they handle them as suspects in severe offences. Is the policeman truly the friend of the man in the streets? Let this be proved in the way he relates to the bus conductor and in the way they adjudicate in a feud between a rich landlord and his poor tenant.

We must also remind the government of their duties. Government must address the socio economic challenges like poverty and unemployment which give room for young people to resort to crime to make ends meet.

It is simply unacceptable that we should be at the mercy of kidnappers and other variants of criminals when our governments can deploy enormous resources including the security votes of the rulers to properly train and kit the security personnel to secure the society. Such funds must be used to provide high tech camera spies in strategic points all over the nation. Not tracking down these felonious elements in our midst or aborting their plans and arresting them is fuel for their activities. It also encourages others