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25.06.2019 Nigeria

Focus on Africa: Nigerian Senator seeks death penalty for kidnappers

By William Niba - RFI
LISTEN JUN 25, 2019

A spate of abductions in the southwestern Nigerian state of Oyo has forced a Senator to call for the enforcement of capital punishment against indicted perpetrators.

Senator Abdulfatai Buhari, who hails from the hard-hit Oyo constituency, told newsmen in the State capital Ibadan that criminals were taking advantage of lenient laws to loot honest citizens and their families.

Buhari's impatience ran out after the abduction of a former Nigerian health minister's son from his farm in a local government area of Oyo state.

Sahara Reporters claims that Professor Isaac Adewole's son Dayo, was released 24 hours later, after his father cut short a trip to the United Kingdom to come deal with the crisis.

Expressway mayhem? “It seems as if the gangs are domiciled in hideouts along the Ife-Ibadan and Ilesa-Oshogbo-Ibadan express ways," says Seyi Gesinde, editor of the Nigerian Tribune which headlines on the Nigerian lawmaker's appeal.

Gesinde also claims that drivers have their hearts in their mouths when plying the Benin City-Ore road along the Kogi axes in the Middle Belt.

A group of armed robbers took over the highway near Okada last week in a day light robbery attempt filmed by Sahara Reporters.

“There reports of five separate kidnappings in Monday's issue of the Daily Trust,” notes Manir Dan Ali Editor in-Chief of the Abuja-based daily.

Ali says the stories are about in-laws to President Muhammadu Buhari abducted 55 days ago from their hometown of Daura, Katsina State.

“The case of the former health minister's son kidnapped and freed is one of the lucky ones,” explains the Daily Trust's boss.

Dan Ali recounts the anguish of a man, who just two week ago, went to pay ransom for his kidnapped son. “After they collected the money, someone called him and said: 'sorry, your son and the two other people we kidnapped have been killed'”, he recalls.

No compassion According to the Daily Trust's chief editor, the brutal treatment to which kidnappers subject people taken hostage has forced relatives to handle ransom issues with total discretion.

“Security agents will always tell you, tell them first but don't pay any ransom”.

But as he observed, “If your son, daughter, father or another relative is kidnapped, your first priority is get the person freed."

Ali argues, “When you are dealing with people who have no compassion about killing or maiming, you've just got to pay whatever it is and get them freed.”

Kidnapping tycoon The editor of the Daily Trust also discusses the trial of billionaire kidnap kingpin "Evans", which has been going on since his arrest in June 2017.

Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, a.k.a. Evans, who confessed to collecting a whopping one million dollars before setting one of his victims free, currently waits in the Kirikiri maximum security prison in Lagos while lawyers are locked in procedural wrangling over his case.

Manir Ben Ali says the trial has been repeatedly adjourned after Evans told the Lagos court that he signed the confessional statement under duress – to prevent members of the police intelligence response team from torturing him to death.

The acclaimed Nigerian journalist doesn't believe it will take a lot for the Oyo North senator Abdulfatai Buhari to garner enough support for the death-to-kidnappers' bill, if he decides to sponsor it.

“The mood around the country is more with the senator and I see it passing rather than being rejected,” said the editor in chief of the Abuja-based Daily Trust.