kidnapping Kidnapping, the taking away of a person against the person's will, usually for ransom or in furtherance of another crime, is becoming everyone’s nightmare in our dear country. Daily, we read nightmarish stories of people being abducted as they go about their daily business. A criminal act, which first attracted national attention on 26 February 2006 when Niger Delta militants kidnapped foreign oil workers to press home their demand, kidnapping has since become ubiquitous and commercialised. It has spreadfrom the Niger Delta to virtually all nooks and crannies of the country, with some states of course being hotspots.

Similarly victims have changed from being predominantly foreign oil workers to Nigerians, including parents, grand parents, and toddlers and about anyone who has a relative that could be blackmailed into coughing out a ransom. Those behind the recent wave of the despicable act have also changed from being exclusively Niger Delta militants to dodgy elements from different walks of life - armed robbers, unemployed, professional 419ers, and at least one Catholic priest There is no doubt that Nigeria is today one of the major kidnapping capitals of the world.

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This has obvious implications for investments, the country’s development trajectory and even the quality of governance. The common tendency is to blame the pervasive wave of kidnapping outside the Niger Delta exclusively on the unacceptable rate of unemployment in the country, an inefficient and corrupt police force that is ill-equipped to fight crime, and collusion between kidnappers and politicians. These factors however appear to be mere symptoms of a larger malaise, namely that pervasive kidnapping, is one of the major symptoms of both ‘failed’ and ‘failing’ states.

Most of the countries where kidnapping have been pervasive have been either failed or failing states – Baghdad after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Columbia from the 1970s until about 2001, and Mexico between 2003 and 2007. The phenomenon of kidnapping has taken an alarming dimension in Nigeria, such that it has become a big business. Kidnapping, hitherto known only in the Niger Delta, is now a daily occurrence in Lagos, Ondo, Ekiti, Oyo and many other States in the country. Kidnapping of expatriates in the Niger Delta is one of the major weapons employed by the various ethnic militias operating in the area.

Its extension to children of prominent citizens in the area has however cost the militants the sympathy of Nigerians as it is now obvious that the Niger Delta struggle has been bastardized by opportunists. The spread of kidnapping to other parts of the country is believed to be a fallout of the military confrontation between the militants and the Federal Government. The militants, who were dislodged from their Niger Delta bases like Gbaramatu kingdom, etc, were forced to relocate to other areas where they have continued their trade of kidnapping as a means of survival.

The other probable groups of kidnappers are those who, though not militants, believe that kidnapping pays with minimum risk of being caught. This second group follows the general trend of Nigerians who like to go into any business that they consider lucrative at the moment, not minding if such would endure or not. When the ‘pure water’ business debuted in Nigeria, many Nigerians became pure water manufacturers with some going to the ridiculous extent of bagging dirty stream water as ‘pure’ water. When finance house business was the ‘in-thing’ in the early 1990s, many Nigerians had also owned finance houses; the rest is history today.

The same goes for kidnapping which many of our idle youths believe is lucrative and have embraced. In the last six months, people who are close to me have been victims of kidnapping. When it first happened in Ekiti with the kidnapping of a top official of Spring Bank, I was jolted because the man is the boss to our friend and, in fact, it was the driver of our friend, who happened to be driving the man that was kidnapped together with him. Next, a government official was kidnapped, who is an uncle to a friend in Ado-Ekiti. The one that scared me most was the case of two children of a friend who were kidnapped in Benin two weeks ago.

The kidnappers demanded for a whopping 50 million naira from the father of the kids, a medical doctor. I am afraid of the dangerous dimension this is getting to. The signs are ominous, as we are approaching a situation where wives who would want to fleece their husbands of their hard-earned money could organise their own kidnapping and share the loot with the kidnappers. Husbands may also do this if their wives are rich. Wayward children could also do this to their rich dads. Employees may do it to get money from their companies. Politicians may also do it to raise money.

The reason for this is simply that the chances of apprehending kidnappers by the law enforcement officers are very remote, so it encourages the trade. It is still part of the symptoms of a failed State. Our security agents are not doing enough in this regard and this is symptomatic of our systemic failure as a nation. One then wonders how those who were kidnapped were smuggled away, passing through the numerous checkpoints. Our policemen by training and by mere looking at faces in a vehicle should be able to detect someone who had been kidnapped. The eye contact is there, and fear is always written on the faces of such victims.

But the problem is that our policemen at checkpoints are more interested in how much the driver of a vehicle can drop. Take for instance, a vehicle conveying five stern-looking guys (four kidnappers and one victim) approaches a check point and offers the policemen say N500, and exchange banters like, ‘Officers I beg make una take this one buy pure water. ’ The kidnappers are likely to have easy passage. The policemen are more likely to lose concentration and may not be interested in looking and reading meaning in the faces of the occupants of the car.

The only antidote to kidnapping is for the culprits to be apprehended either at the point of abducting the victim or at the point of collecting their ransom, as is done in advanced countries. Our security agents, especially policemen at checkpoints, must be more vigilant by observing the faces of the occupants of a car especially when there is an alert of a kidnap in their area. The National Assembly must take the lead in passing a bill concerning punishment for kidnappers. State Houses of Assembly must follow the example of Delta State by enacting a law that would make kidnapping punishable by death, if only to discourage kidnappers.

They are worse than armed robbers! Nigerian kidnappers in the context of global criminality To the best of my knowledge, there are no exact global statistics with which to rank the prevalence of the kidnapping in different countries. However, Mexico is notorious as being first in the world for kidnapping and they are closely followed by Phoenix, in the state of Arizona in the US. With the spate of the scourge here, Nigeria could soon be anywhere between those two territories if drastic measures are not taken to abate the vice. The link between kidnapping and poverty

From the apparent trend of ransom running into millions of naira, anyone without a relatively high hostage value cannot be kidnapped. However, except in the South East where I learnt a ransom that is as low as N300,000 was paid in a particular case and a place in Delta State, where N200,000 was demanded, I do not think the poor has anything to fear in other parts of Nigeria. Therefore, from majority of recorded kidnap cases, one can safely conclude that kidnapping could continue to be a scourge of the affluent Combating this recent scourge Yes, it is possible to stop kidnapping with both long and short-term strategies.

For a long lasting solution, there should be good governance to assuage the citizenry’s socio-economic anxieties, which give rise to crime. For immediate results, that is to abate the present scourge of kidnapping, our security apparatus as a nation should be overhauled and; more than ever before, individuals should be more security conscious. Yes, kidnapping is alien to our culture and because politics is about governance, one can safely conclude that the way we play politics in this part of the world has collapsed our internal security system.

First, owing to perceived economic marginalization, militant agitations gave rise to kidnapping in the Niger Delta. After the militants embraced the federal government’s amnesty, political thugs who appear to have been used and dumped by do or die politicians picked up the vice and by the day it appears the army of unemployed youths are further swelling their ranks. Weaknesses of the security agencies Judging from the rate and speed at which we resolve kidnap episodes, one can conclude that as a nation, we do not as yet have a system to sustain or confront the menace.

Perhaps that is because the plague is relatively alien to our culture. So, let us hope that our government at the three tiers are learning and formulating policies to abate the scourge. How Nigerians could protect themselves In the past, the rate of crime and sophistication were relatively low and we never gave much thought to security as a people. But now, every citizen of this country should be more security conscious until the present tide of crime assuages. In a little more detail, individuals should have an eye for what are normal and abnormal activities, movements and people in their immediate environment.

Actions that constitute security lapses should be avoided at home and on the road. Vigilante groups or neighbourhood watches can be formed. Of course, all security measures aimed at self-defence or protection should be within the laws of the land and anchored on the Police - the government agency for internal security. Considering that majority of kidnap victims are the wealthy, my advice for Nigerians is to eschew ostentatious living or open display of wealth, at least, during this relatively trying period. Job creation will stop the increasing tide of kidnapping in the country.

Agriculture, pointed out, added 41per cent to the GDP with a lot of land to spare. If he then stated that if properly developed agriculture will contribute more to the economy and possibly outstrip oil in generating revenue for the country The two key areas they will direct government’s attention to are the labour guzzling sectors of Agriculture and Manufacturing. The cement mogul decried the agitation for state creation, noting that some existing states are not viable for investment and as such should concentrate on developing their investment potentials rather than clamour for more states.

Not one to back away from commenting on cement production and its benefits, Dangote revealed that before the end of next year Nigeria will be producing 28 million tons of cement with Ogun State will producing 10 million tons. This massive production of cement, he said, will drive down the price of cement as seen in the price war between Lagos and Abuja. He disclosed that cement is now cheaper in Abuja than obtains in Lagos because of the Obajana Plant which now serves Abuja and its environs.

Applying the economies of scale theory, Dangote noted that if the cement manufacturers produce more the price of cement will fall and they will sell more. the causes of kidnapping are poverty,terrorism,and lack of government actions of this problem. ? Child Custody: The most common reason for child abduction is the fear of losing one’s own child during the proceedings of child custody. This form of child abduction is practiced by parents when they separate or the proceedings of the divorce start. This may or may not be regarded as a criminal offence depending on the state or the country in which it is carried out. Ransom: The most common reason for child abduction is to extract money from the child’s parents. It is practiced mostly in the United States where the amount of ransom varies from $500 to $100 million. ? Sexual assault: In a lot of cases, child abduction is carried out in association with other violent crimes like rape and sexual assault. Generally, females are victim of such kind of child kidnapping. ? Slavery: It has been reported that many children are abducted for slavery. These children are either kept as slaves or are sold to the people in the interior parts of Africa.

A rebel group, Lord’s Resistance Army is known for kidnapping children for using them as sex slaves or child soldiers. ? Raise by strangers: There have been kidnappings done by females to bring the children and raise them on their own. Such women either cannot produce babies or have been psychologically affected by a miscarriage. This kind of abduction is rare, and occurs in very small numbers Kidnapping is a sternly punishable crime. It usually occurs in connection with another criminal offense or underlying crime. It involves denial of autonomy and calls for a unique criminal audacity.

The law of kidnapping is difficult to define with exactitude because it varies from one jurisdiction to another. The kidnapper is usually sentenced to prison for a certain number of years. In some states, and at the federal level, the term of imprisonment may be the remainder of the offender's natural life. In jurisdictions that authorize the death penalty, a kidnapper can be charged with a capital offense, if the abduction results in death. Punishments also vary in accordance to the type or level of hostage. New York State classifies first-degree kidnapping on the basis of the purpose and length of the abduction.

First-degree kidnapping principally includes abduction to obtain ransom; abduction that lasts for more than 12 hours and the abductor intends to injure the victim; to accomplish or advance the commission of a felony; to terrorize the victim or a third person; or to interfere with a governmental or political function. An abduction that results in death is also rated as first-degree kidnapping. A first-degree kidnapping in New York State is a class A-1 felony, which carries a sentence of at least 20 years of imprisonment. A second-degree kidnapping essentially lacks aggravating circumstances.

It falls under class B felony and the offender may be sentenced to one to eight years in prison. Carjacking is also slotted as a form of kidnapping. This offense occurs when one person forces a driver out of the driver's seat and steals the vehicle, with either the victim in the car or thrown out. In California, a carjacking statute is contained within the penal code's chapter on kidnapping and it bears a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Kidnapping can have grave implications by the law, provided it covers the two basic elements of unlawful detention and aggravating circumstance.