The story in the newspapers of 29th November, 2010 that one hundred and eleven kidnappers have been arrested by the Rivers State Police Command, is a shock regarding efforts being put in place by the state government in making sure that this anomaly called kidnapping is stemmed. Suleiman Abba, the Commissioner of Police in Rivers State was quoted as saying that the operations of his command, between the months of October and November, also foiled 16 attempted cases of abduction. Three pipeline vandals were also arrested. Within the period under review, Abba said that 45 armed robbery incidents were also foiled while seven cultists were also arrested, 16 stolen vehicles and a total of 94 fire arms were recovered.
While the Commissioner has assured residents of the state of a peaceful yuletide season, which statement we see as garrulity, we have not forgotten in a hurry that in the same light, the Nigerian army had recently said it had arrested a militant leader and 62 of his followers suspected of involvement in a string of recent kidnappings of oil workers, including foreigners. Before the media, the gang was paraded at an Air Force base in Port Harcourt. Yet, we are hearing of kidnapping cases on a daily basis?
However, while the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) had claimed responsibility for about 14 of the hostages in the recent times, the group has to understand that its relationship with humanity have been soured because of its acts that are against humanism and karmic law always establish its action on any person or group that is acting against humanity, if not immediately.
The Rivers State Police Command should not always be telling us that “investigations would begin immediately” whenever crime is perpetrated in the state, but should immediately come out with the expectant result. We should not always be attributing criminalities in Rivers State to: “amnesty has failed to address underlying issues of poverty and unemployment in the Niger Delta.” We have to understand that some people are just wicked to mankind! Again, observers saying that “Militant leaders given stipends in exchange for turning in their weapons would eventually be replaced by others” is a statement that encourages crime. Be warned!
Governor Chibuike Amaechi signed into law a bill making kidnapping punishable with life imprisonment without the option of a fine, is something we are yet to see the effect on the many arrested and paraded kidnappers in the state since the law was passed early this year. Even though that the governor did not say it, did we not know that kidnapping has presented bad image to Rivers state? Very soon, our research will expose the facts and figures of arrested kidnappers in Rivers State and the number of those that are truly in the police net, those that are truly convicted, and all that with kidnapping in our state. We know that not everybody has been expecting this, but we shall without delay bring it to the public glare as soon as we could.
Amaechi made a confessional statement during the South-south Economic Summit in Calabar. The governor buttressed the difference between a fight against injustice and outright criminality saying:
My view as a Niger Delta man is that these boys who call themselves militants are not ideological; they do not represent the views of the South-south. They are pursuing their own selfish goals.
That we are suffering under the big nation called Nigeria is not in doubt. If our people are suffering in the big nation called Nigeria, the big people in Nigeria are marginalising us, and at the same time misappropriating our resources, should we also kill ourselves?
They are kidnapping our people. They are driving away investors and economic goods from the Niger Delta. They are growing poverty instead of growing the economy of the country. There are those you don't negotiate with and these people fall into this category.
You don't negotiate with criminals. If you negotiate with those who kidnap, you might as well negotiate with armed robbers because they commit the same crime.
When people heard that Amaechi said that, they started pouring encomium and back lashing. One observer said to Amaechi: “The indigenes may feel bad, but we none-indigenes know the value of what you are doing. In Lagos, Governor Fashola is doing the same exercise and he is really helping the state and investors are coming in.” Is this not true?
As Concerned None-Indigenes in Rivers State (CONIRIV), we bought in the above statement. Everybody in Rivers State need to work together to fish out those who Amaechi called criminals (kidnappers), but we cannot and should not stop blaming the government (not Amaechi's government) for unemployment and that the kidnappers deserve to be punished.
Kidnapping calls for serious concern on our security. The security personnel should understand that the spate of kidnapping in Rivers State in earnest shows the extent of decay in their security network. The height of insecurity is even worse than any form of criminality. Punishing citizens by the law when they fail to abide by the laws of the land, what happens to security personnel when they fail to provide adequate security to the innocent citizens? Offering financial rewards to anyone who aids the arrest of criminals is not even the best; this even shows the incongruities of the government.
We as a people, however, have to collaborate with security operatives in this task to rid our state of kidnapping and other related crimes. We have to give each other the assurance that we can do it. With us, more security operatives deployed to our state to assist in smoking out the hoodlums from their hideouts can achieve their work. We have to express deep concern that the waves of crime in our state have stalled not only government projects, but also individuals' lives and property.
Odimegwu Onwumere, Coordinator, Concerned Non-Indigenes in Rivers State (CONIRIV). +2348032552855. [email protected]