29th September, 2010
Aba, the commercial nerve centre and capital of Abia State is fast becoming the most dangerous city in Nigeria. The resurgence of violent crimes like kidnapping, armed robbery, etc. clearly portray the city in this negative light.
The criminals struck again on Monday when they callously hijacked a bus load of children attending Abayi International School, Aba, and took the occupants to an unknown destination. The victims are still being held hostage while parents worried about the fate of the schildren have besieged the school.
The gunmen are demanding N40 million as ransom to free them. The 15 children left their parents happily on the day of the incident only to end up in the evil bosoms of the demented criminals.
What on earth would drive anyone to kidnap children going to school? The gunmen reportedly waylaid the bus at Ekeakpara area of the city and took the kids away. This sad and shameful incident is happening barely two weeks after five youth corps members were kidnapped from their lodge in Rivers State and taken to Abia State.
Other violent crimes like armed robbery and murder have made Abia State very unsafe in recent times. Days ago, six telecommunications workers were killed by gunmen. Not quite long ago, several banks in the city were shut down when robbers raided them ceaselessly. Reports say the banks have again shut down in the wake of the recent crippling armed robbery attacks on them.
From all indications, security agencies have either lost the fight to the gangsters spreading terror in the state or they are conniving with the criminals to carry out their dastardly operations. Or how do we explain the ease with which kidnapping and armed robbery attacks are carried out without the security agencies pre-empting such attacks or foiling same?
The state government and the new Inspector-General of Police, Hafiz Ringim must overhaul the security apparatus which appears to have collapsed completely in the state as underlined by the woeful performance of the security agencies there.
A government is in place to safeguard the lives and property of the citizens. Once it fails in the discharge of this paramount duty, then it cannot lay claim to being a responsive and responsible government. It ceases to be relevant once it cannot protect the citizens against criminals on the rampage.
Aba, which used to be the pride of Igbos, has been hijacked by violent criminals. The criminals are in firm control of the city, so much that the residents now live in perpetual fear. The days ahead are grim as we approach the 2011 general elections. Politicians who want to settle scores with their opponents will find ready tools in these kidnappers who could do anything for money.
If the gangsters could take 15 school-bound children hostage, what else can they not do to earn blood money? Itâ€™s time civil rights groups, parents, teachers and students took to the streets of Aba to protest against the total breakdown of law and order in that state.
There is no reason to subject the kidnapped children to the trauma they are now undergoing. Those children must be released now, unharmed. The senseless and inhuman act must stop.