4th June, 2019
ID AL-FITRI MESSAGE:
KIDNAPPING: USE CARROT AND STICK METHOD
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has advocated the use of carrot and stick method as a panacea to the scourge of kidnapping rampaging several parts of Nigeria. According to the human rights organization, security agencies should take the battle to the kidnappers while government should introduce welfare packages for the poor. This was contained in the Id Al-Fitr message issued by the Director of MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Monday, 3rd June, 2019.
“It is high time we addressed the issue of kidnapping squarely. Our approach to it in this country is absolutely wrong. We surrender to kidnappers and pay ransom so easily. We don’t want to die because we are too materialistic. We have forgotten that life in this world is ephemeral.
“The criminals are enjoying it because they are having their way. While we subscribe to the theory that this is an uprising of the poor against the rich, I must affirm that the kidnappers in particular have gone too far. They went too far by failing to differentiate between the rich and the poor working-class people. They pick anybody and compel the extended families and friends to pool their hard-earned resources together in order to pay ransom. It is time for the government, politicians, the press and the good people of Nigeria to adopt the ‘O to gee’ slogan and confront kidnappers headlong.
“Mr. President must give the marching order to the heads of all security outfits to eliminate all known kidnappers’ camps and hideouts. He must give them a deadline for this assignment. They are to perform or get sacked. We are aware that our securitymen have not been able to storm the kidnappers’ camps for fear of killing some of the victims, not because they are afraid of the kidnappers.
“But that was when the objective was to rescue the victims. They must now be given a different order. Their new task must be to use every legitimate means to stop further kidnapping. ‘O to gee’. The kidnappers’ dens must be raided even when some victims are still there. These are the same victims they are using as human shield and they will continue to intimidate society as long as we are not ready to damn the consequences.
“This is where Nigerians must cooperate with the government. We must be prepared to make sacrifices. Unless we do this, the kidnappers will continue to pick us one after the other and make us pay through our noses until virtual every Nigerian has fallen victim. It is certain that some of the kidnapped victims may be killed while some will be rescued if the kidnappers’ dens are raided. But we just have to face this grim possibility.
“It is a war situation and casualties are expected on both sides. This is the sacrifice we have to make in order to liberate ourselves. Freedom is never free anywhere. It comes with a price. It is a time for politicians to come together and act like a single body of responsible and patriotic citizens. The blame game must stop. This has always been a disaster waiting to happen. Therefore, no political party should pull the wool over our eyes.
“We have seen how the opposition lambasted the ruling party for failing to stop killings and kidnappings but is the opposition better? History has proved that today’s opposition was worse when it was in power. We must take recourse to history because today was born from the wombs of yesterday. Boko Haram festered under the opposition and 17 local governments were occupied in Borno State alone. The Chibok girls were also kidnapped under the watch of the former president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
“What did he do? Instead of giving the hoodlums a good fight, he shared out money meant for the purchase of arms to his campaign agents. A second term was more important to him than the safety of Nigerians. We would have been able to nip this security challenge in the bud long ago had he taken security issue very serious. But he did not. Yet his cronies have the temerity to blame the current administration.
“The same goes for the outgoing 8th National Assembly (NASS) which refused to expedite action on the release of money meant to purchase special weapons to enhance security nationwide. Unfortunately Nigerians are victims of collective amnesia and it is only the government they are blaming today. They have forgotten the callous action of the NASS which deprived the Federal Government (FG) of the funds needed to purchase weapons. What we are saying in essence is that those who are blaming the current administration for the security challenge facing Nigeria are themselves to blame. They are the real culprits.
“However, the way forward is to take a collective action, stop the blame game, brace up like real men and storm the kidnappers’ camps. ‘O to gee’. If the words of William Shakespeare are true, that ‘Cowards die many times before their death, the valiant never taste of death but once’, then we must overcome our thanatophobia now and face reality.
“We are bound to lose some kidnap victims and rescue some if we storm the dens, but we would have given the kidnappers a run for their money. At the end of the day, Nigerians would have been liberated from the clutches of kidnappers, from fear of the unknown and from thanatophobia.
“This is where the understanding and cooperation of the citizens, the politicians and the press are most crucial. We must all see the raids on kidnappers’ dens as a collective decision and accept the outcome. It is the price we have to pay for our freedom of movement and our Allah-given fundamental right to live. Liberty is never gotten on a platter of gold. There is always a price. Civilised society must be prepared to stand firm against criminals. We must also be ready to make sacrifices in order to stop the onslaught.
“Once we take this action, the kidnappers will now see that they face a determined and organized opposition. Those who survive the raids among them will realise that it is no longer business as usual. Nobody wants to die, including kidnappers and armed robbers. They do not like resistance because they want to live to enjoy their booty.
“This is what we must do as a people. There is a role for government to play, a task for politicians, a duty for the press and a part for the citizens. To overcome our security challenge is a task that must be done. But we all must live up to our parts of the task. We must not expect any abracadabra from the government if we fail to play our own parts.
“We therefore call on FG to change the game plan now by taking the battle to the kidnappers. Politicians in all parties, the press and the citizenry must give government their support. In particular, the payment of ransom must be discouraged as it has fueled the kidnap industry. The more you give kidnappers the more the rest of Nigerians are exposed to danger.
“We all know that ransom payment is counter-productive but who will bell the cat? Who will speak the hard truth knowing fully well that he may be the next target. Kidnappers will continue to fleece us one by one until we realise the truth. Without being unmindful of the great risk involved, MURIC is determined to address issues affecting the Nigerian society as a whole, not just those affecting Muslims alone. It is our contribution to our country.
“Meanwhile we must realise that society has not been fair to the poor. This is the root of the problem. Government must address this root by adopting a stick and carrot method. Raid kidnappers’ camps. Rescue kidnapped victims. Deal with those who resist but rehabilitate those who surrender.
“However, government must introduce social welfare packages parri passu in order to assure criminally minded ones that there is an alternative to crime. We suggest payment of the old minimum wage (N18,000) for every unemployed Nigerian.
“Ceteris paribus, Nigeria is a blessed country and no Nigerian should go hungry. We have enough human and material resources but only 1% of the population has arrogated 85% of the total wealth to themselves, leaving just 15% for the remaining 99% of the population.
“This is why too many people are poor, too many people are hungry but a few people are stupendously rich. The poor people have now been pushed to the wall and they are fighting back. This is the casus belli of kidnapping, armed robbery and Boko Haram which are rampaging Nigeria today.
“We advise government to review its decision to revoke gun licences. Although we frown at the proliferation of guns, we believe that owners of gun licenses should be screened so that only decent and law-abiding people are allowed to own guns. Such law-abiding citizens deserve encouragement instead of being exposed to attacks by hoodlums. In fact, the indiscriminate withdrawal of gun licences will further boost the kidnap industry as the criminals will now realise that they are free to raid homes without the fear of any challenge.
“In our concluding remarks, we charge FG to change the game plan by giving the security agencies a marching order to raid kidnappers dens while politicians, the press and the citizens give government every necessary support. Government should also give unemployed Nigerians the old minimum wage to help them rubber-cushion the effect of joblessness. In addition, government should review the executive order on the revocation of gun licences.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)