HURIWA Condemns Escalating Kidnappings

HURIWA Condemns Escalating Kidnappings

…Calls for Urgent Action

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has raised the alarm over the increasing wave of kidnappings across the country, transforming abductions into a multibillion Naira commercial franchise.

In a media briefing in Abuja, the association called on the security chiefs to take immediate and decisive action to curb the menace. It advocated for practical solutions to enhance national security.

Speaking to journalists and other stakeholders at the media briefing, HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, highlighted that kidnapping has become a national crisis, with all six geopolitical zones affected by various forms of conflict that fuel the abduction industry.

He added that from the jihadist insurgency in the North-East to farmer-herder conflicts in the North-Central and rising piracy and cultism in the South-South, the pervasive insecurity has allowed kidnapping to flourish unchecked.

“The conventional focus on the jihadist insurgency in Nigeria’s North-East overlooks that all six geopolitical zones are embroiled in various conflicts,” Onwubiko stated. “While the North-East grapples with terrorism from ISWAP and Boko Haram, the North-West is plagued by roving gangs of criminal-style bandits. The North-Central faces farmer-herder conflicts, ethnic, and religious tensions, and the South-West, once known for its peace, now deals with resource conflicts.

Cultism is a growing concern in the South-West and South-South, which also confronts rising piracy and oil bunkering. The South-East is combating secessionist agitations impacting its economy and security. These security issues transcend geopolitical boundaries, revealing their truly national scope.”

“Kidnapping has become a prominent national security concern in Nigeria,” Onwubiko continued. “It is a common strategy used by various conflict actors to gain attention and achieve their goals. Some groups use kidnapping to bolster their numbers, while others seek financial gain by taking material items from victims or demanding ransoms from their families and communities.

 The financial implications of kidnapping are as significant as those of oil theft, funding criminal networks and making them more sophisticated. Consequently, individuals and communities pay billions of Naira in ransom to secure the release of their loved ones.

“According to data from the Armed Conflict Location and Events Data Project (ACLED), Nigeria accounts for more than half of all abductions in West Africa, with 52% of the 4,074 recorded abductions from organized political violence between 2019 and 2023 occurring in the country.

The North-West region, particularly Kaduna and Katsina states, has been the hardest hit, followed closely by the North-Central region, including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja”.

HURIWA did not shy away from pointing fingers at the top echelons of the Nigerian military and police. The association alleged that some high-ranking officials are complicit in the kidnapping industry, allowing these criminal activities to persist and even thrive.

They called for a thorough investigation into these allegations, stressing that the involvement of security personnel in kidnappings severely undermines trust and hampers efforts to combat the problem.

Moreover, HURIWA raised concerns about the role of banks in facilitating ransom payments. They alleged that some ransom transactions are conveyed using bank bullion vans, making it difficult to trace and curb the flow of illicit funds.

The association called on financial institutions to adhere strictly to anti-money laundering (AML) regulations and ensure robust enforcement of the Know Your Customer (KYC) principles to prevent their systems from being exploited by kidnappers.

“Recent events have underscored the gravity of the situation. The mother of renowned Hausa musician Dauda Adamu, known as Rarara, was abducted in Katsina State, with the kidnappers demanding a staggering N900 million ransom.

 Similarly, an 18-seater bus operated by Big Joe Motors was hijacked in Kogi State, with all occupants, including the driver, kidnapped. These incidents highlight the widespread and brazen nature of kidnappings in Nigeria today,” Onwubiko added.

In response to the kidnapping crisis, HURIWA proposed several practical solutions to improve national security, including implementing a comprehensive motorcycle identification and tracking system, as motorcycles are often used by kidnappers in regions with poor transportation networks.

Additionally, monitoring petrol sales in areas prone to kidnappings could disrupt the operations of criminal networks that rely heavily on fuel.

HURIWA also recommended strengthening the policy linking National Identification Numbers (NIN) with phone numbers to enhance the ability of law enforcement agencies to trace and apprehend kidnappers.

The association also stressed investing in advanced technology for location tracking to quickly locate and rescue victims.

To address the financial aspects of kidnapping, HURIWA urged the government to accelerate the transition to a cashless society.

This includes developing digital banking infrastructure and promoting digital literacy to reduce reliance on physical cash. Strengthening anti-money laundering regulations and ensuring strict adherence to KYC principles were also highlighted as critical measures.

In a bold move, HURIWA advocated for liberal gun licensing for Nigerian adults with no past criminal records. They argued that allowing responsible citizens to bear arms for self-defense could serve as a deterrent to kidnappers and other criminals.

The association emphasized the need for a robust regulatory framework to ensure that firearms do not fall into the wrong hands while empowering law-abiding Nigerians to protect themselves and their communities.

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) called on all stakeholders, including security agencies, financial institutions, and the government, to collaborate in implementing these solutions.

According to the rights group, by addressing the root causes of kidnapping and enhancing security measures, Nigeria can begin to reverse the alarming trend of abductions and restore safety and confidence among its citizens.

“This media briefing serves as a clarion call for urgent and decisive action to tackle the kidnapping epidemic that has plagued the nation. HURIWA remains committed to advocating for the rights and security of all Nigerians and will continue to hold authorities accountable in their efforts to combat this pressing issue,” Onwubiko concluded.

*Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko*

National Coordinator,

Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA)

July 4th, 2024

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