Over half a dozen civic groups in Lagos yesterday called on the state government to get real and tackle the challenge of kidnapping which they say is currently on the rise and is being kept off the radar by the administration for fear of hurting business interest in the state.
The way to tackle the challenge the group said in their statement is a pro-active and dynamic enforcement measure, with strong input from the state government, the police, the media and the citizenry.
“They all have key roles to play in stemming this danger” said the group which also urged the media to help promote awareness of this growing danger, even as it pressed citizens to imbibe strong vigilance culture.
The full text of the group reads:
“We, the undersigned Nigerian civil society organisations are seriously concerned about reports of the kidnapping of Nigerian citizens and foreign nationals in Lagos State in the last few months.
In August 2011, a nursing mother, Mrs. Yanju Kusamotu Thomas was abducted in the presence of her husband, leaving him with the responsibility of searching for the wife and nursing a 5 month old baby left by the wife.
In October 2011, the Lagos state police command successfully rescued Dr. Godwin Ene, a 66 year old Surgeon from a kidnapper’s den. In that captivity were also Godwin Okonkwo and a US based business man, Rodney Agaga both of who have spent 3 and 5 weeks respectively in the hands of their captors. In that same month, it took the timely intervention of the Oodua People’s Congress members in Orile to foil a kidnapping attempt of 2 children, Rita and Ruth.
Also, a banker, Mr. Yemi Odusanya of Access Bank was kidnapped on 22 April, 2012 in Lagos State. A female medical doctor, kidnapped in Ogun State last week was found in Epe in Lagos State. Three Lebanese and an Indian national were also kidnapped last week. According to our information, the police to whom reports were lodged have failed or refused to investigate the allegations or ensure the victims’ access to an effective remedy. The result is that the relations and friends of the victims reportedly paid ransom ranging from N3m to N20m to secure their freedom.
We are concerned that the Lagos State Government, despite being aware of the problem, has curiously failed or neglected to take any action to tackle the problem or to publicly acknowledge this troubling practice. We are not unaware of the State Government’s adopted approach of concealing the development so as not to scare investors away from the State and Country.
We are further concerned that the continuing lack of action or public acknowledgement of the problem by the Lagos State Government poses a serious threat to the constitutionally and internationally recognized human rights of Nigerians to life and security of their person, and human dignity. This approach is rather increasing people’s vulnerability and providing a thriving environment for the kidnappers.
We believe that the primary purpose of any serious government is to ensure the security of lives and property of the citizens and foreign nationals in the country. We are concerned that the failure of the Lagos State Government to tackle the problem and provide an environment where victims and their families will receive the protection of the law has continued to exacerbate the situation.
(1) Call on the Lagos State Government and Federal Government to publicly acknowledge the problem, and take urgent and concrete measures to combat kidnapping across the country;
(2) Call on the Lagos State Government to collaborate with the Police in setting up an effective intelligence agency with the specific mandate of addressing and stemming this trend;
(3) Call on the Inspector-General of Police to direct the Lagos State Police Command and other commands in the country to guarantee the safety of Nigerians and others in any part of the country;
(4) Call for increased monitoring of the situation and sharing of information and intelligence about the problem to prevent the problem and to secure the right to life and security of the person and propers for all citizens and Lagos residents
(5) Call on Nigerians and other foreign Nationals in Lagos to be vigilant, and collaborate with Law enforcement agencies in ensuring their security and that of the State.
(6) Call on the media to assist people in their vigilance by providing deserved media coverage and information on related development in the state.
Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA)
Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC)
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)
Centre for the Rule of Law (CENTROLAW)
Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Lagos
Labour, Health and Human Rights Development Centre
National Conscience Party, Lagos State.”