Date Published: 11/12/09
The Other Side of Kidnapping By Akintokunbo A Adejumo
For the past half-century years of my life, I never knew I was wasting my time in this world, or maybe as a Nigerian. My parents spent time, energy money etc on me to have a very good education so that I may get a very good job and be useful to my family, my community, my people and my country.
Fifty three years later, I have been in different jobs, made very little money and still trying to find the right job that will adequately feed my family. Now, at this stage, I should not even start thinking of helping my people and country, because I really should be thinking of my own, and my family’s survival.
I did not realise it, but I was banging my head against brick walls. After 1999, on the advent of the so-called “democratic dispensation” in Nigeria, I realised I was in the wrong racket, the wrong business, the wrong career move, perhaps. I had read and read till I could read no more. I had worked and worked, mostly for the white man in the white man’s countries that I could work no more. I just wake up reluctantly these days and trudge off to a dead-end job, I no longer like.
I used to like my job or career. I am considered a professional, in fact, in the UK, I am something of an expert in my chosen profession (at least, that is what employers and head-hunters say to me). I am in the dark here, somebody open the windows for me!!
Then I realised I could have been very good in other professions which might definitely raise the eyebrows, but knowing how well these businesses are booming and in fact for some of the participants, “crime does pay”, I could really do well.
I have several choices: I could be a drug-smuggler; I could be a political thug or I could be a politician or finally, I could choose to be a kidnapper. I will not even consider armed robbery – too dangerous for my health.
The problem with all these is that they carry certain risks, but of course, as we know, the one with the least hazard is that of a Politician. I stand to make (steal) a lot of money, and with a 99% chance of getting away with it. Politics is the only thriving industry in our comatose economy. That is why people do or die to get in there. They know once they get there they can never go wrong. It has its own hazards too, such as political assassinations, oath takings and juju, but relatively, it is safe as houses.
A drug smuggler? Not in the days of Buhari/Idiagbon, but could have made it during the IBB days when the rules were very much relaxed, but then the thought of swallowing numerous packets of cocaine scares me stiff and silly.
Political thug? The work is dangerous, but the rewards enormous if you are good at it. But, I don’t think I will ever be good at killing people with guns or machetes. It is against my nature. I also can’t take in marijuana and other drugs to make me feel high whilst running around the town killing on behalf of a politician.
Kidnapping is certainly a crime, but in our country, who cares? Corruption is a crime too, at least in most countries of the world, except our dear own country, where it is even seen as a necessity or a certain way of life, a political requisite, or business perquisite. In criminal law, kidnapping is the taking away or transportation of a person against the person's will, usually to hold the person in false imprisonment, a confinement without legal authority. This may be done for ransom or in furtherance of another crime.
Kidnapping is a common law offence requiring:
- that one person takes and carries a minor away;
- by force or fraud;
- without the consent of the person taken; and
- without lawful excuse.
It would be difficult to kidnap without also committing false imprisonment, which is the common-law offence of intentionally or recklessly detaining the victim without lawful authority. The use of force to take and detain will also be regarded as an assault, and other, related offences may also be committed before, during, or after the detention.
In the terminology of the common law in many jurisdictions (according to Black's Law Dictionary), the crime of kidnapping is labelled abduction when the victim is a woman.
I think for me, kidnapping is the safest option, if I want to go criminal and make money. It is certainly lucrative, especially in the South-South and South –East of the country, where the crime was initially introduced by the Niger Delta militants (and I do support them in view of the decades of injustice in that part of Nigeria; they are rightly aggrieved), until one thing led to the other, and kidnapping got out of hand – everybody that has a gun and smoked a few weeds of marijuana can kidnap, and also politicians were using it as a tool against opponents.
As a humane person, I hate to say this, but when I hear that this politician’s mother or father has been kidnapped, or a Niger Delta Chief’s son has been kidnapped, I tend to think “It serves him right”. I am even happy that kidnapping has now moved out of the Niger Delta area and now reached as far north as Kaduna and Maiduguri, whilst not leaving Lagos out. “Them what has gets”.
With ransom money in the regions of hundreds of millions, to be shared by the kidnapper, who says it is not a lucrative business. And how many of them have you heard or read have been arrested by our Nigeria Police? See? It is a safe crime. Will Soludo’s father’s kidnappers ever be arrested? I doubt even if the Nigeria Police Force is conducting an investigation into it – there are too many kidnapping cases to be investigated.
And even as I write, I read in the papers of at least three new kidnappings: Federal deputy director, driver kidnapped in Edo - No trace of kidnapped Niger perm sec (Nigerian Tribune, Wednesday 11/11/09); A Deputy Director in the Federal Department of Livestock and Pest Control Services, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources, Alhaji Abubakar, on his way to represent Health Minister, Babatunde Osotimehin, had been kidnapped by gunmen (THISDAY, 11/1/09); There is rise in kidnapping in the South-East after Nollywood star actor and comedian, Nkem Owoh was kidnapped.(Vanguard, 11/11/09); Cross River State has witnessed its first kidnap incident, as kidnappers stormed Igoli in Ogoja Local Government Area of the state and abducted Mrs. Victoria Idiege, one of the wives of a member of the state House of Assembly, Honourable Signor Idiege.(Nigerian Tribune, 12/11/09)
Who says kidnapping is not lucrative and safe in Nigeria? Anybody can be kidnapped, and anybody can kidnap. No special skills or experience needed, however, being a former Niger Delta militant will improve your chances.
On the return of Soludo’s father, after ransome of between N200 and N500 million (who really knows?) has been paid, The Guardian’s Reuben Abati had this to say: “His kidnappers dropped him off around 11 pm on Wednesday. The Soludos will not tell whether any ransom was paid or not. They have been busy however jubilating and thanking God. We always have a way of dragging God into every man-made problem in this country! The celebration in the home of the Soludos is so infectious that even the police have joined the alleluia chorus. Except that, that is not the job of the police.
We expect the police not to close the Simeon Soludo file. He may have survived the ordeal but the crime should be addressed. The Police must seek out Pa Soludo's kidnappers and ensure that the law takes its course. Otherwise, these and other kidnappers will be further emboldened to wreak greater havoc in the future. The Soludo brothers have now arranged very heavy security around their father, nobody is allowed to go near him or talk to him about his ordeal. It will be most unfair to turn the old man into a prisoner in his own house just because he has a son who wants to be Governor. He should be allowed to co-operate with the Police in all ways possible. He has a story to tell and it should be told”.
There certainly is more than meets the eye in this Soludo kidnapping saga. The Police said five suspects have been caught; the Soludo family said no ransom was paid (what is the point in the kidnapping then?) The Soludo father was dumped at Uga, a neighbouring area to his Isuofia community in Aguata Local council and later picked up by a police team, (How very convenient and lucky?)
Knowing what I know of many such incidents in Nigeria, was the whole thing a hoax to seek public sympathy for Soludo’s gubernatorial ambition in Anambra State? Or was the kidnapping used to raise money for his election campaign?
I have to go into this kidnapping business, believe me.
I am being cynical here. At the height of the Obasanjo administration, kidnapping was at its best and very vicious. Foreign oil workers were the initial targets by the Niger Delta militants. This later turned into a business. It is well known that after a while, some foreign oil workers from certain countries were actually initiating and orchestrating their own kidnap, in collaboration with the kidnappers. They therefore bilk their own employers and share the ransom with the kidnapper.
Then th e Niger Delta politicians (of the Obasanjo era) waded in. Now I have to be careful here. These politicians, including the now ex-governors, were using the militants for their political ends, and after they get want they wanted, they tended to abandon the militants. The militants, not having any source of income, then turned to kidnapping. Initially, they would kidnap either the politicians or the politicians relatives, and demand a ransom, the ransom in this case, usually what the politician initially promised to pay for their services to help him get into power.
It was so bad, that the politicians in the South-South started relocating their families abroad and to other areas in Nigeria.
However the best scenario was that when the kidnapping of foregners was becoming really embarrassing to Obasanjo, he begged the Niger Delta Governors to do something. Here comes a big opportunity to be heroic. Some of these Governors became the Chief Negotiator of the Federal Government of Nigeria to the Niger Delta Militants, but as usual, they did not do it for nothing. They have to line their own pocket, because, as they saw it, it was a risky job. They themselves might get kidnapped.
So what happened? Let ’s say the kidnappers demand $500,000. The Chief Negotiator, that is, the State Governor, will collect this money from the Oil Company, but share it with the militant, with him taking the larger share, the kidnappers being simple minded people. Also the money that the Federal Government is sending to keep the militants and kidnappers quiet ends up in the pocket of the Governor.
Very good business for the now-billionaire Niger Delta ex-Governors; and you wonder where they got all that money from. If they tell you they did not steal from their State’s treasury, maybe they are right. There was a more lucrative way of making money, and the oil companies were paying in dollars, not naira.
Let the truth be told always.
Akintokunbo Adejumo is the Global Coordinator of CHAMPIONS FOR NIGERIA, ( www.championsfornigeria.org ) an organisation devoted to tackling corruption, promoting good governance and celebrating genuine progress, excellence, commitment, selfless and unalloyed service to Nigeria and the people of Nigeria.