Sunday, 26 February 2017

Nigerian Government Set To Launch New Anti-Kidnapping Measures 

A fresh initiative by the Federal Government to curb the growing menace of kidnapping across the country is on the way.

The initiative is the result of joint efforts by the security agencies to check what is fast turning into one of the most lucrative criminal activities in the nation’s history.

Government, according to an investigation by The Nation, had tasked the relevant security agencies to come up with ideas on how best to tackle the problem before it gets worse than it is now.

The agencies have consequently identified some measures through which kidnapping and related crimes can be made unattractive throughout the nooks and crannies of the country.

The new measures may include the introduction of the capital punishment for those found guilty of kidnapping.

Lagos, Ogun and Delta States have already introduced the capital punishment for kidnapping.
Police Inspector General Ibrahim Idris confirmed in Abuja that the federal government is working on a blue print to address the issue.

Besides, the Police are putting forward a plan to recreate two of its elite units at the state and zonal commands to deal with kidnapping.

These are the Technical Intelligence Unit (TIU) and Anti-Kidnapping Unit (AKU) both of which are currently based at the force headquarters, Abuja.

The police boss said his office and that of the Attorney-General of the Federation are collaborating on effective prosecution of kidnapping cases nationwide.

Idris who spoke  in an interview in Abuja said that for a start, suspected  kidnappers  will henceforth be prosecuted under the provisions of the Terrorism Prevention Act (TPA) 2011 and Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act 2013.

He explained that the two laws otherwise known as TPA 2011 (as amended) can be very effective deterrent against such grave criminal acts as they specify penalties that may include long jail term,  life sentence and death.

He said: “We have seen the need for the police and the Attorney-General’s office to work together more, especially in the area of prosecution of terrorists as more has been heard about arrests than convictions.
“After arrest, we want personnel from the two sides to ensure that suspects are effectively prosecuted.
“Now, we want to be prosecuting them under the Terrorism Act because kidnapping falls under the Act; we are trying to harmonise everything with the Attorney-General’s office to make for very effective prosecution to the last point.

“Thus far, people are just hearing of arrests but they have not been hearing of people being sentenced to 20, 30 years in prison or even, to death.”
Serious criminal acts, according to him, must be confronted with serious deterrents.

Emphasising deep concerns over the near daily occurrence of kidnapping and other criminal acts in spite of police’ consistent efforts to curb them, the Inspector-General stressed that the police has several challenges but solicited active support from all segments of the society to improve security for all.

His words: “We are trying to enlist the support of all segments of society to tackle the challenge of kidnapping; we need to sensitise members of the public on the need to be security-conscious and for all of us to work together with unity of purpose because when you see some of the ordinary looking boys involved in kidnapping activities, you will find it difficult to believe.

“Eventually, we always get most of them as you can see with the Turkish College, the kidnapped Lagos landlords and other cases. In those cases, we gathered information and picked suspects long afterwards when they least expected.

“To a great extent, we are succeeding despite of challenges including inadequate funding and personnel.
“Kidnapping has become a big problem for the entire society; that is why we are bringing together religious leaders, traditional rulers and all members of the society to tackle the menace.

“Within the limited resources that the police have and the competencies of our officers, we are trying and we are recording success.”

Credible police sources confirmed to The Nation that planned recreation of the Technical Intelligence Unit (TIU) and Anti Kidnapping Unit (AKU) at the state and zonal commands will go a long way in checking kidnapping.

“Currently, we only have these vital units in Abuja and each time there is a serious kidnap case to crack, the Inspector General will have to order these special forces, to move to the affected areas,” sources said.
“But if the new idea is accepted as a good initiative, we may soon see the creation of these units in the states. That way, the force will react faster to all cases of kidnap, both high and low profile, as each command will have all it takes to crack the crimes in good time.”

The Inspector General in a previous interview had said the police would mount special tracking devices in Lagos and Port-Harcourt to check kidnapping and other crimes.

“The device we will mount in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, will cater for the South-South and South East zones, while the one deployed to Lagos would focus on the west,” he said.