There is insecurity in the land. Kidnappers and bandits are on the prowl. There is an exercise of stereotyping going on, making people to attribute kidnappings to a section of the country, a situation that may impede the efforts of government at all levels to do enough intelligence gathering and carry out wholesale operations that can put the desperadoes at bay. In other words, while it cannot be denied that the Fulani in the North are, on countless occasions, responsible, Nigerians will be making a huge mistake by believing that the Fulani are the only culprits.
That is why Mr Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said: “Since the Federal and State governments have failed to address the crisis of insecurity, some highly placed individuals have given the impression that Fulani herders alone are responsible for the rising wave of kidnapping in the south west region. The rumour has continued to spread due to the failure of the state governments in the south west region to assure the people of the security of their lives. However, our investigation has revealed that the kidnappers terrorizing the people of the south west zone are drawn from the Fulani, Yoruba, Igbo and some other ethnic groups in Nigeria.”
The investigation has also, according to him, confirmed the involvement of a number of unpatriotic security personnel in the nefarious criminal enterprise. Similarly, some ungodly Pastors and Imams, as he added, have been nabbed for praying for the success of kidnapping and armed robbery operations. Falana argued further that many freed victims had exposed the involvement of French speaking kidnappers from neighbouring countries. Indeed, not a few criminally minded people have faked abductions of family members or kidnapped innocent children in a desperate bid to dupe their parents.
“While we do not deny the involvement of armed Fulani herders in violent crimes”, Falana maintained, “we have established that some of the most notorious kidnappers including the notorious billionaire kidnapper and his accomplices who were collecting ransom in Dollars, Pounds and Euros until they met their waterloo in Lagos state last year are not of the Fulani extraction.
He lamented that for the past 20 years, members of the political class have failed to comply with Section 14 (2) (b) of the Constitution which stipulates that the “welfare and security of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”. Based on the frustration and disenchantment caused by illiteracy and unemployment, many young people have joined gangs of insurgents, bandits, armed robbers and kidnappers. In the first quarter of 2019, not less than 1,071 people were killed in 212 major armed robberies and other brutal killings while 685 people were kidnapped. Ransom worth billions of Naira was paid by family members of victims of abductions.
Convinced that the identification of hardened criminals on the basis of their ethnicity and religion is completely diversionary, Falana argued that it is high time that all men and women of goodwill mounted pressure on the federal and state governments to secure the life of every person visiting or living in Nigeria. Since kidnapping, armed robbery and murder are state offences we call on all state governments to direct the attorneys-general to prosecute the very many kidnap suspects that are arrested by the police and other security agencies from time to time.
Furthermore, he added that the people deserve to be briefed regularly by the Chief Executive of each state on the measures being put in place to provide security and welfare for the people. He said: “Before the establishment of state police the members of the Nigeria Police Council (i.e the President, Inspector-General of Police, Chairman of the Police Service Commission and 36 state governors) should meet regularly to administer, organise and supervise the Nigeria Police Force in line with the provision of the Constitution.