20th July, 2010
After spending exactly one week in the dense forest of Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia State, the four journalists and their driver kidnapped last week finally regained freedom in the early hours of Sunday.
According to reports, the journalists, Wahab Oba, Sylva Okereke, Sola Oyeyipo and Okonkwo Adolphus were dumped in a bush near a marketÂ where the police located them and took them to the Abia State Government House for debriefing. We thank God that the journalists were released unharmed and alive. We must also thank the police for deploying their might and ensuring that the journalists came out of the kidnappersâ€™ den alive.
Irrespective of what we might say, if the police had not turned the heat on the criminals, they would still have held on to their victims and insisted that the N250 million ransom demanded, which was later slashed to N30 million, be paid. When the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ogbonna Onovo, last week revealed to the nation that his men had identified the hideout of the kidnappers but decided not to confront them in order not to endanger the lives of the journalists, many took the information with a pinch of salt. But events have shown that the man knew what he was doing. We commend his effort and task him not to rest on his oars but go after other kidnappers now that four suspected kidnappers have been arrested in connection with the abduction of the four journalists and their driver.
The police boss should use this opportunity to send a strong message that he would not condone kidnapping in whatever guise. The federal and Abia State governments should also be commended for the assistance extended to the police while the search for the abducted journalists lasted. We note, in particular, the action taken by the latter to deter further kidnapping in the area by arresting and dethroning the traditional ruler of Amauba-Ime Oboro Autonomous Community in Ekwuano Local Government Area of the state, Eze Vincent Okezie Uche, who is said to have been charged to court for allegedly sponsoring kidnapping and armed robbery in the area.
Apart from this, the state government also suspended three traditional rulers in Obingwa Local Government Area and sounded a note of warning to others that it will not condone criminal activities in its domain. The mass transfer of police officers from the South-East will also go a long way in curtailing kidnapping because there were allegations that security agencies were colluding with criminals to attack law abiding citizens.
As much as we condemn kidnapping and welcome the release of the journalists and their driver, it is our contention that criminal activities across the country will continue to be our bane until we provide jobs for the large army of unemployed Nigerians roaming the streets and countryside in search of what to do. Until we provide gainful employment for these teeming population, we will continue to witness kidnapping, armed robbery, abduction for ritual and other criminal activities. There are just too many idle youths all over the country. This is a huge labour force wasting away because there are no factories to employ them.
It is time the government took the bull by the horns and addressed the unacceptable rate of unemployment in the country. It is instructive to note that the kidnappers said unemployment and governmentâ€™s insensitivity to their plight drove them into kidnapping of people to earn a living. Government will do well to reassess its strategy in this respect and provide measures to take care of the interest of the unemployed.
Palliative measures like creatingÂ a social security scheme to cater for the indigent and unemployedÂ youths and the elderly will be a good idea. Government exists for the security and welfare of the citizens and a governmenmt that is not able to cater for its people would be deemed to have abdicated its responsibility to the people. There is also the need for all to be security conscious and to assist the police with information on the activities of criminals in our various communities. A situation where communities and their leaders as well as security agents collude with criminals to perpetrate evil will not augur well for the peace and security of all. That is the dilemma the nation is facing today.