14th July, 2010
Following the shocking kidnap of four journalists in the South East, Senator Annie Okonkwo of Anambra Central, has described the criminal bravado as a grievous slap on our national morale.
â€œThis is one embarrassment too many and our national morale has obviously been compromised by this barefaced banditry,â€ the Senator said in a statement issued by his Special Assistant Media, Mr. Collins Steve Ugwu.
â€œI am very angry with these remorseless bandits as should be by every decent Nigerian, hence this anger must stand our security agencies on their toes not to remain clueless for too long,â€ the Senator noted.
â€œThe Presidential directive to apprehend this low caste sub-humans should be given summary effect by the collaborative capacity of our security agencies to rescue these noble men unharmed and return them safely to their traumatized families,â€ Senator Okonkwo emphasized.
â€œThat way, our collective morale will regain some respite and the inglorious appetite of kidnappers for more exploits curbed at least. This is imperative because our nation, still sweating to emerge successfully from a forced negotiated amnesty to armed militancy, cannot afford another helpless surrender to a reckless cartel of kidnappers.
â€œI am aware that no nation exists without crimes and criminals, but then no nation sleeps while criminals enjoy free reign,â€Â the Senator reasoned, regretting that â€œthe absence of radical deterrence signal to kidnappers appears to have given them the boldness to interrupt our peace at will and get away with it.
â€œThis must be addressed urgently, because the geographical limit of kidnappings to South East region from recent events appears to have collapsed given their unchecked bounty harvests.â€
Also,the Lagos State chapter of the Action Congress has called on the kidnappers in Abia State, South East Nigeria to throw open the gates of their gulag and allow the journalists they seized three days ago to go home to their wives and children as a matter of urgency.
In a statement signed by the Lagos State AC Publicity Secretary Joe Igbokwe, the party said it is unthinkable, unbelievable, unimaginable and totally unacceptable for journalists that have been fighting for the common people since the years of the locusts to become preys to the same people they have defended come rain, come sunshine.
â€œWe condemn this assault in the strongest terms and ask the people involved in this heinous crime to have a rethink. Kidnapping is a monumental crime and those who engage themselves in this kind of illicit trade know the implications of what they are doing and the effect on our weak economy.
â€œGiven the tragedy that have struck journalists in Nigeria in recent times where breadwinners have been murdered in the cause of discharging their legitimate duties, adding kidnapping to it is a new dangerous dimension to the war against journalists and this is the time for all and sundry to wake up to deal with this scourgeâ€
â€œThe issue of security should be on the front burner of any responsible and responsive government and what is required in a fragile country like ours is to invest heavily in security. We therefore urge the central government to use every means possible to deal with this challenge.â€
The party added: â€œInvestors especially foreigners will find it difficult if not impossible to put their money here if security of lives and property cannot be guaranteedâ€
The Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO, has also condemned the abduction of the journalists.
In a statement by Comrade Eneruvie Enakoko, the Lagos State Branch chairman of the group, CLO said â€œsince this evil reared its ugly head a few years ago, it is instructive to note that that none of the perpetrators of this dastardly act had ever been arrested or charged to court. Rather the government and other stakeholders appear to sanction it with their negotiation deals with kidnappers and payment of ransom without effective measures to stem the ugly trend.
â€œThe menace of kidnapping in this country which is a direct result of the broken politics in Aso Rock and the failed policies of government at all levels in the nation is rapidly getting out of hand.Â It started, first, as a bargaining chip by the Niger Delta Militants in their quest for a better deal in the distribution of oil wealth, beginning with just the abduction of expatriates apparently to draw global attention to injustice in the Niger Delta region. But somewhere along the line they expanded their purview into the abduction of fellow Nigerians including little children and it then grew and spread its nagging prehensile tentacles into the very fabric of our national life becoming a thriving business for miscreants, delinquents, the degenerates and the dejected; and we fear it is going to be more than that in the days and months ahead as it is certainly going to be a handy political weapon as the 2011 general elections draw closer.
â€œWe call on the on the police and other security agencies to take proactive and innovative steps to quickly secure the release of the journalists. And we further call on Media owners along with the government to set in motion adequate insurance cover for journalists. And to further forestall this nightmare, we call on the government, in particular the legislature to quickly enact legislation against kidnapping. While we frown at the death penalty, we ask government at all levels to put in place stiff penalties against kidnappers, say a minimum of 10 years imprisonment to curb this evil and serve as deterrent to others.â€