KIDNAPPING OF ABIA STATE


The failure of governance at every level of administration coupled with other factors has been perceived as the possible cause(s) of kidnapping especially in third world countries.

          In Nigeria (Abia State) kidnapping has assumed an alarming dimension which has received wide spread condemnations from well meaning people of Nigeria and even the international community. In Abia State, kidnapping have had some negative implications on the youth and the women which has become imperative for this project to address in order to drastically reduce the effect of this menace.

          This project is expected to discuss the possible causes of kidnapping, implications and the practical solutions for the betterment of the society.

However, many reasons have been adduced by various scholars/commentators for the rise in the cases of kidnapping in Nigeria. (Abia State) while some attributed it to the failure of governments at all levels, others associated it to poor moral upbringing of children.

1.2   Statement of the Problem

        The phenomenon of kidnapping has assumed an alarming dimension leading to loss of lives, properties, money and has had some negative implications on the society especially on the women and children. If this trend continues unabated, the negative effect which includes high rate of delinquency will certainly encourage the morally upright to be involved in this demonic trade. In Nigeria such that it has attracted widespread condemnation by both Nigerians and the international community. Kidnapping hitherto known only in the Niger Delta, is now a national occurrence. If this trend continues unabated, it will have far reaching consequences on mostly the women and the youth.   

The high rate of kidnapping coupled with the break down of law and order, militancy, insecurity and most times the loss of lives and properties is a cause for concern for the contemporary Nigerian society. The extent of social disorder experienced in Abia State have reach an alarming position making it necessary for both the government and all well meaning people to be involved in the process of restoring a peaceful society where law and order reigns. There is therefore the obvious need for this research to trace the genesis of this monster, causes, implication as well as proffer possible solutions, as no serious authority can fold it’s arms and allow it to continue.

 

1.3   Purpose of the Study

The objectives of this study are:

  1. To identify the factors that causes kidnapping in Abia State.
  2. To ascertain the implications of kidnapping on the children and women in Abia State.
  3. To examine and proffer possible solutions to the menace of kidnapping in Abia State.

 

1.4   Research Methodology

        This research adopted the tripartite approach for data collection and analysis. We relied on secondary sources of information gathering which include books, journals, magazines, dailies, projects, thesis etc.

        We complimented this with the use of oral interviews as we interviewed some Abians and non-indigenes who were either victim of kidnapping or conversant with the issues associated with kidnapping. This enabled us ascertain the factors that ensured a peaceful environment and those that have eventually led to the near breakdown of law and order.

 

1.5   Scope of the Study

        The scope of this study is analyzing the implications of kidnapping on the women and the youth in Abia State with particular reference to Aba town, the commercial nerve centre of Abia State, south-East Nigeria.

 

1.6   Limitation of the Study

        This research posed some challenges especially in data collection. It was a Herculean task getting some books, journals and other published and unpublished works for this research. It was also difficult interviewing people who were victims of kidnapping since they feared that such information could endanger their lives. The constant visits to Aba for this research also posed a serious challenge due to the frequent cases of armed robbery, kidnapping and the cost of transportation. We also encountered the problem of interviewing the non-literates who find it difficult to understand certain aspects of this menace. In any case, we made frantic effort and got some books, journals and dailies for this research. We equally interviewed those who volunteered information and some were equally induced with financial gratification.

 

1.7   Significance of the study

        This project will contribute in no small measure in understanding the factors that gave rise to kidnapping and other deviant behaviours especially in Abia State.

        This work will also help in understanding the implications of kidnapping on the women and youth in Abia State.

        This research is also important in trying to proffer solution to the government, religious bodies and the citizenry on how to curb the menace of kidnapping not only in Abia State but the Nigerian nation as a whole. Findings of this research will help these bodies to put in measures that will ensure a harmonious and peaceful society.

        Finally, findings of this research will serve to stimulate further researches on this and related topics.       

CHAPTER TWO

LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1   Meaning and Types of Kidnapping

        The phenomenon of kidnapping has taken an alarming dimension in Nigeria, such that it has become a big business. It therefore becomes necessary to look at the meaning at the meaning of kidnapping, identify some scholarly definitions and possible types or forms of kidnapping.

        The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary 6th edition defines kidnapping as the act of taking somebody away illegally and keeping them as a prisoner, especially in order to get money or something else for returning them.

Hakeem Jamiu (Media wikipedia) defines the term thus:

It refers to forceful abduction of a human being with the intention to hold them for ransom, or seize them away for the motive of harassment (physically or mentally or sexually), taking them hostage and various other motives. It is done by the way of taking the kidnapped person to a place where they are unlikely to be found and is unlikely to be released till abductors demands are satisfied.

       

In a related development, Ukwu Elems, a US trained lawyer in a paper presented as part of the end of year programme of the league of friends of Akwa-Ibom State in Port Harcourt saw kidnapping as the unlawful act of capturing and carrying away persons against their will and holding them in false imprisonment.

        Kidnapping has become a second criminal problem in Nigeria especially in the south-south and south-east geo-political regions of this country.

        In criminal law however, kidnapping is the taking away or transportation of a person against the person’s will, usually to hold the person in false imprisonment, a confinement without legal authority. This may be done for ransom or in furtherance of another crime, or in connection with a child’s custody dispute.

        In modern usage, kidnapping or abduction of a child is often called child stealing or parental kidnapping particularly when done not to collect a ransom but rather with the intention of keeping the child permanently.

        Kidnapping in which ever form has become a common occurrence in various parts of the world today and certain cities and countries are often described as the kidnapping capital of the world. Although, statistics are harder to come by, reports suggest that Nigeria has the highest rate of kidnapping cases especially since the wake of the agitation by the people of the rich oil Niger Delta region.

        Kidnapping of people in the Niger Delta, is now a daily occurrence especially that which involves expatriates, women and children and has been identified as a source of restiveness and the eventual breakdown of law and order. Kidnapping of expatriates in the Niger Delta is one of the major weapons employed by the various ethnic militias operating in the area. It’s extension to children of prominent citizens in the area has however cost the habitants the sympathy of Nigerian as it is now obvious that the Niger Delta struggle has been bastardized.

        The spread of kidnapping to other parts of the country is believed to be a fall out of the military confrontation between the militants and the federal government. The militants who were dislodged from the Niger Delta bases like Gbaramatu kingdom etc; were forced to relocate to other areas where they have continued their trade of kidnapping as a means of survival.

        The other probable groups of kidnappers are those who, though not militants, believe that kidnapping pays with minimum risk of being caught. This second group follows the general trend of Nigerians who like to go into any business that they consider lucrative at the moment, not minding if such would endure or not. The signs are ominous; as we are approaching a situation where wives who would went to fleece their husbands of their hard-earned money could organize their own kidnapping and share the loot with the kidnappers. Husbands may also do so if their wives are rich. Wayward children could also do this to their rich dads. Employees may do it to get money from their companies. Politicians may also do it to raise money. The reason for this is simply that the chances of apprehending kidnappers by the law enforcement officers are very remote, so it encourages the trade. In any case, it is still part of the symptoms of a failed state.   

        It is important to mention the fact that contemporary social vices called kidnapping, militancy and hostage taking had their roots in the Bible which has affected the whole human race. In the book of Genesis, we read of Cain and Abel, the two brothers. The action of the younger brother, Abel and the acceptance of God attracted the anger of the elder brother. The anodyne action of Cain killing his younger brother brought about the curse of the Almighty God who declared in Gen 4:11 – 13:

…and now, thou art curse from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand, when thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee the strength; a fugitive and vagabond shall thou be on earth.

 

2.2   Scholarly views about Kidnapping and Crime 

        Over the years, a number of scholars (anthropologist sociologists, religionist and philosophers) have commented on the issue of kidnapping and the crime problem generally leading to theories to ascertain the possible causes of kidnapping and crime. Iwarimie-Jaja (2010:133) summed it up when he said that Most of such theories have focused attention on anti-social behaviour or deviance which is a broad conceptual framework for understanding and explaining delinquency and criminality.

For the purpose of clarity and to enable us adopt a theoretical framework for a better review of literature crime and deviance, two major theories which fall under the structural-functional theory shall be discussed.

Functionalism: The functionalist perspective tends to argue that the crime problem in Nigeria emanates from the social imbalance especially on the line of the two major classes of people. Because of the pressure on certain people to meet up the challenges of satisfying their economic needs, it is the view of this theory that such persons are likely to commit crime of different types. The argument of this theory is that there is a moral question and the disregard to the core values of integrity, love and respect for the rule of law.

Marxism: This theory contends that the problem of crime in Nigeria is linked to the problem of the existence to the intensity of class conflict and contradictions in the economic order, mainly due to the depressive, oppressive and dehumanizing effects. Hence, the increase in capitalist behaviour for the aim of profit maximization and unequal economic and social status is responsible for the continuous rise in crime rate in Nigeria which seems to have defiled all government efforts at addressing the crime problem.

        The Marxists also believe that the crime problem could be linked to the economic gap between “the haves” and “the haves not”, causing the inordinate desire for the lower people to try to rise to the next economic level through any available obnoxious way. Accordingly, the Marxists contend that the Nigerian scenario where people who occupy government offices loot government treasuries for their personal aggrandizement leaving the rest of Nigerians impoverished and without any of the basic amenities-shelter, food and clothing, which this school of thought concerned was a major factor that has lead many Nigerians to crime. Having looked at these theories which fall under the structural-theoretical framework, it is the view of this research to align with the Marxists view that states that the increased measure of capitalist behaviour especially unequal economic or social relations is responsible for the unabated nature of Nigeria’s crime-problem. It could be said to be true that factors such as greed, marginal and outright unemployment, abject and relative poverty, high inflation rates, disorganized homes and insecurity to life and property are the basic crime problem in Nigeria. It is from this stand point that this research will be discussing the crime of kidnapping and other deviance behaviour in our country. Understanding this theory accordingly will help us achieve the task of proffering solutions to the problem of kidnapping not only in Abia state but the whole of Nigeria.   

Even the recent upsurge in the activities of the Boko Haram is not unconnected with what the northerners perceived as marginalization of their region and also a reaction to the level of poverty, deprivation occasioned by the near collapsed of the president Goodluck led government of Nigeria. 

Sociologists have also adopted other strategies at explaining crime and deviance behaviour. For a school of thought, criminals or those involve in crime already have an innate tendency for crime or better still inborn. Others share the view that delinquent or criminal behaviour emanate from the physical nature of the offenders themselves and concluded that the human genetic and environmental factor as schools, homes, peer groups could produce anti-social behaviour. There is also another school of thought which opined that crime can best be associated with mental disorder or malfunctioning of the brain, leading to the thought of evil and thereby community crime. This could be referred to as psychosis. Furthermore, there is also another thought which is the socio-genetic or sociological theory which advocated that the society has a like to crime.

This theory as submitted by Iwarimie-Jaja (2010:174) states:

That the sociological perspective exposes the situation or social context in which delinquency and crime takes place. The central thrust of this theory is that attention is focused on the relationship between a person’s socio-economic condition and the possibility that the person would commit either crime or delinquency.

 

Having looked at these theories, it is not enough to conclude that all these are relevant to the Nigerian (Abia State) scenario in explaining kidnapping and crime. However, it has been established in many fora that poverty, frustration, unemployment and disorganized families are not the only reasons why people commit crime like theft, burglary, fraud, murder or armed robbery.

Iwarimie-Jaja (2010:193) had opined: 

Infact, though these hold, the major cause of criminal acts is the association of the adolescent, or adult, with persons who have a need that is not different from those of his peers, but the desire to satisfy, this need does not explain why he should engage in delinquent act, or why at an adult age, he may commit crime.

 

This simply alludes to the fact that kidnapping which as a crime could have come into existence as a result of many factors such as bad governance/corruption, unemployment, lack of development, structural deficiency of the Nigerian federalism, environmental damage, human rights violations etc.

        The wiktionary, the free dictionary listed the following as the possible types of kidnapping.

i)      Bride Kidnapping: This is a term often applied loosely, to include any bride “abducted” against the will of her parents, even if she is willing to marry the “abductor”. It still is traditional among certain nomadic peoples of central Asia. It has been a resurgence in kyrgyztan, since the fall of Soviet Union and the subsequent erosion of women rights.

ii)     Child Kidnapping: This happens to be one of our cardinal focus and has to do with the abduction or kidnapping of a child (or baby) by an older person mainly for ransom, to settle political scores and a means of undoing one another. This is the current trend in the south-east where children (youth) of prominent businessmen and politicians have been victims.

iii)    Express Kidnapping: This is a situation in which the kidnappers demand a certain ransom where the families, company or government can pay. This type originated from Latin America, where a small ransom, that a family or company can easily pay. This perhaps is the trend in Abia State where it is revealed by John Owechi (oral interview 04/07/2011) whose colleague’s son was kidnap for the sum of N100,000 naira only.   

iv)    Tiger Kidnapping: This is the taking of a hostage to make a loved one or associate of the victim do something for instance, a child is taking hostage to force the shop keeper to open the safe. The term originates from the usually long preceding observation like a tiger does on the prowl.

 

2.3   Cases of Kidnapping in Nigeria    

i)      Kidnapping of Four Foreign Workers Including Two Britons: As reported in the Nation Newspaper of 14th February, 2006.

This case of kidnapping took place in a night club in Port Harcourt good fellas bar at about 10pm along the GRA axis of Port Harcourt.

        The report has it that this was the fifth case of kidnapping in the oil rich Niger Delta of Nigeria. As in most cases, hostages are believed to have been released unharmed, usually after a financial deal is struck but analysts say the ransom payments fuel the violence. The report further stated that these expatriates were taken away through the water ways to an unknown destination. Many reasons have been adduced for this upsurge in kidnapping but Wilson Minin (oral interview 04/06/2011) opined that the Delta is awash with weapons, unemployment is high and communities feel aggrieved at the lack of development. The four expatriates were later freed (7 days after) and handed over to Nigeria Liquidified Natural Gas (NLNG) in Bonny through the Philippine and British embassies respectively.

ii)     Kidnapping of five South Koreans in Port Harcourt on the 7th of June, 2006 (www.news.com.an/heradsun/story)

According to the report, a militant group in Nigeria’s oil-producing Niger Delta claimed responsibility for kidnapping five South Koreans during an attack on a gas plant operated by Royal Dutch shell. The movement for the emancipation of Niger Delta (mend) claimed that the region has been impoverished and underdeveloped by the federal government. According to this source, these South Koreans were released unharmed but not without emotional trauma due to the dehumanizing experience of these expatriates. They were release 6 days later unharmed.

iii)    Kidnapping of a three-year old British girl in Nigeria. July 6, 2007 in Aba, Abia State. This kidnapping case occurred on the above date while the girl was traveling to school by car to Port Harcourt, along the Aba-Port Harcourt express way. Margaret Hill, daughter of oil worker Mike Hill was snatched by unknown gun men who demanded ransom. It was not clear whether any ransom was paid at the time of this report. This particular case triggered a frantic diplomatic activity to obtain her release. The report also has it that she was unharmed at the time of her release.

iv)         Kidnapping of pa. Chinedu the Father of a Senior Accountant of Abia State on the 7th of October 2008, reported in the daily sun of 8th October, 2010.

According the sun report, the man was kidnapped in his home town by some unknown gunmen who demanded N20 million. The report continued that this elderly man was held hostage for over two weeks and eventually died in the custody of the kidnappers who dropped the corpse at the at a Bridge. It was indeed a sad news as it was the first case of the death of a victim in the custody of the kidnappers in Abia State.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER THREE

THE CRIME OF KIDNAPPING IN ABIA STATE

3.1   Origin of Kidnapping in Abia State

        It is difficult to determine exactly when kidnapping started in Abia State without taking a holistic view of it’s origin in the whole of the Niger Delta.

        Abia State has been under the siege of kidnappers who have in the last few years made life unbearable for the residents especially the wealthy and foreign nationals.

        The illicit trade, which began in the troubled oil rich Niger Delta started in the year 2006 in Bayelsa State south-south geographical zone. It was first experienced in the south east zone at the industrial town of Nnewi, Anambra State, where two Chinese nationals attached to a private auto manufacturing firm were taken hostage on March, 17, 2007. (Daily Champion 2nd June, 2008). The report hinted that one of the victims was released after the payment of ransom while the other was missing till date and he is believed to have been killed by his abductors.

The first reported case o kidnapping took place on September 27, 2008 at Aba involving the kidnap of 15 school children who were later released perhaps after the payment of ransom (Daily champion 02/06/2009). Since then, there have been cases of kidnapping involving women, children, the wealthy and foreigners. Different authorities and individuals have adduced various reasons for the high rate of kidnapping and crime in the area.

Iwarime-Jaja (2010:158) simply asserted that:

Infact, it is the harsh conditions experienced by people that motivate them to seek for extra-legal ways to come out of their deplorable state of survival. This explains why there is a chronic and recalcitrant crime situation that has a systematic occurrence and characterized as dangerous.

 

Oloruntimehin (1984) seems to agree with the above assertion when he wrote that:

Nigeria is besieged with normlessness. The country has replaced dignity and honor with disrespect and dishonor as a standard of behaviour. There is an overt display of immorality and power, violence and ill gotten money.

 

The fact is that, there is societal decadence. Nigeria has unwittingly provided the conducive and enabling environment for all sorts of crime which has engendered it’s crime-problem (Iwarimie-Jaja 2010:159).

        Today, Aba the commercial nerve centre of Abia State is a state of abject lawlessness, prompting residents to flee the town in droves, while schools, banks, markets and business premises have been shut down. No wonder president Goodluck Jonathan promptly ordered the inspector general of police Hafiz Ringim and heads of other security agencies to “take necessary steps to restore peace and order in Abia State.

 

3.2   Types/Strategies of Kidnapping in Abia State

        Some of the types of kidnapping in Abia State could be summarized under the following sub-headings.

i)      Kidnapping from Bushes: This is the type of kidnapping where the victims are normally abducted along the road leading to either a village or town and kept in the bush. This is the most used method as the bush provides a safe haven for the kidnappers who also perfect their mission in the bush. The victims could be any body depending on the target of the kidnappers. For instance, the kidnap of 15 pupils along the Aba-Port Harcourt expressway by one of the notorious kidnappers Osisikana and taken to unknown destination. The hoodlums where later apprehended and their captives released. (Daily Guardian 02/06/2008).

ii)     Kidnapping in the Sea: This happens when the victims are kidnapped in the sea while traveling in the Nigerian waterways. The victims were mostly taken to the bush for ransom. An example of this kind of kidnapping was one that took place at the Bonny Sea on the 14th of April 2009 at about 7:30pm involving a staff of NLNG. There were cases were the kidnappers board the boat of travelers in order to perfect their heinous crime.

iii)    Kidnapping from the Church: Sometimes, the kidnappers resort to the kidnapping of Church members especially the wealthy ones for the purpose of ransom. The kidnappers either pretend to be worshippers or hang around the Church premises to perpetrate their plan. In most cases, the victims are mostly children and women of wealthy Church members or the clergy perceived to be very rich (Guardian 02/06/2008).

iv)    Kidnapping from Houses: This is the most widely used method of kidnapping of victims from their houses or offices and taken to unknown destinations. The Sun Newspaper of 14th February, 2010 reported the kidnapping of a medical Doctor Sunday Uche along the Ugwuati and Ogwe area of Ukwa-West Local Government Area of Abia State. He was allegedly killed after his abductors had collected N20 million ransoms from his relatives. The police according to that report fingered the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra.

 

3.3   Government and Community Response to Kidnapping

        Government at all levels and the various communities in the area had made frantic efforts at eradicating the scourge of kidnapping. The government of Abia State led by Theodore Orji had intensified efforts through the instrumentality of local vigilante groups and the law enforcement agencies. We shall briefly look at the various ways the government and the communities of Abia State had responded to this menace.

 

1)     The Use of Government Security Agents

The Abia State Governor had intensified efforts at eradicating the scourge of kidnapping. They go by various names like operation sweeps, operation wipe and anti-kidnapping squad. They go by various names like operation sweeps operation wipe and anti-kidnapping squad. The police in Abia State have however taken up the gauntlet and recorded successes by bursting three major kidnap cases involving children and the women in Aba, Abia State. It is also on record that the police in Abia State paraded 32 pregnant inmates mostly teenagers arrested when they invaded clinic (Baby factory) known as the cross foundation. The Osisikama kidnappers were also arrested and crushed by a joint military taskforce. The police also foiled various attempts at kidnapping different people in Abia State.

2)     The use of Vigilantee Groups

The communities on their part have also resorted to the use of local vigilante for the purpose of curbing kidnapping. The various communities of Abia State had instituted different groups to curb the menace. For instance, the popular Bakassi boys in Aba have assisted the government to eradicate kidnapping.

 

3)     Media Sensitization

The government has also intensified efforts at the sensitization of the populace on the need to be watchful or the look out for kidnappers. This has assisted the people to be careful on how they travel especially at odd times. The media has a great task in this regard. It is important to continue sensitizing the people on the need to allow decency in governance and citizen’s responsibilities. The media also has a duty to investigate cases of kidnapping and other vices that are ingenious to the economic growth of the state.   

4)     Resort to Prayers

It is also of on record that the wife of the Governor of Abia State has on severed occasions called for prayer sessions to seek the face of God. The people on their part must compliment government’s action by ensuring accountability on the part of the state government who are the custodians of the revenue accruable to the states. The time to indulge in corruption by any State Governors under any guise should be over.

 

3.4   Effect of Kidnapping in Abia State

Kidnapping has had and still has some effect in Abia state.

i)      Kidnapping as a Source of Unemployment

At the wake of kidnapping especially when it concerns the kidnapping of foreign expatriates when the governments at the state and federal levels are calling for investors has affected Abia state negatively. Some companies have either folded or relocated to other parts of this country or outside the shores of Nigeria leading to unemployment occasional by loss of jobs. A social commentator Uche Onye once asked.

How will any reasonable investor come and invest in a country where several other international companies are winding up? (Punch 8th August, 2010).   

 

The resultant effect is that more people are lured into crime as the saying goes; an idle mind is the devils workshop.

ii)     Battered the Image of Abia State

Also of great concern is the negative picture the menace has created of the Nigerian society at international level. This has affected virtually all aspects of life of the people especially the tourism industry is adversely affected. The revenue expected from the tourism sector could not be realized in the midst of insecure environment. Most foreign governments on monthly basis post travel warnings on their websites, warning their citizens against traveling to the Niger Delta region, Abia State inclusive, owing to the growing insecurity in the region.

iii)    Loss of Revenue to the State Government

The menace of kidnapping has affected the revenue generation of Abia State. Some of the revenue accruable from the companies/businesses in Abia State has continued to diminish drastically. Government continues to spend huge sums of money to provide security making other sectors of the economy to suffer. The Abia State government is reported to have decried the loss of billions of naira to the fight against kidnapping and the reduction of the presence of companies in Abia State. In the midst of these, the Abia State economy is the ultimate victim.

iv)    General Insecurity

 There is general sense of insecurity leading to loss of lives and properties. The result is that many youth are now interested in the kidnapping business. The urge to be part of the money-spinning racket thus emboldened many desperate youths to defy the risk and embrace kidnapping as a pastime. Funny enough, kidnapping which could be likened to glorified armed robbery, has today graduated from fighting for the right of the region to include all forms of criminalities including killing and maiming.

This according to Iwarimie-Jaja (2010:172) lamented the security implications of kidnapping when he wrote:

Enforcers of law (the police, the immigration services, drug law enforcement agency, customs, and state security services) in attempt to reduce Nigeria’s crime-problem, have arrested children, young persons and adults, public-office holders and non-public office holders but their efforts have not stopped Nigeria’s crime problem from increasing astronomically.

 

Furthermore, the continuous confrontation between the military and the kidnappers has far reaching security implications on the people and residents of Abia State.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER FOUR

WOMEN AND CHILDREN KIDNAPPING IN ABIA STATE

4.1   Children Kidnapping

        Kidnapping which started in the Niger Delta had as it’s target the foreign expatriates either as agitation for the control of the resources of the region and later for ransom. In Abia State, it degenerated to the issue of kidnapping women and children for reasons ranging from ransom taking to strategy to weaken political opponents. According to Ogechi Chinedu (oral information, 08/07/2011) the vicious syndicates which have various detention camps in different states of the region kidnap human beings principally to extract ransom from the helpless relatives. Sometimes, they rake in millions of naira from their wealthy victims and hundreds of thousands from the middle class.

        The kidnapping of 15 school children in Aba, Abia State on the 27th September, 2007 one of the reported cases of kidnapping in Abia State (Daily Sun 8th October, 2008). The paper further reported that these children were held hostage for 5 days and eventually released on the eve of the independence day. The incident once again alerted Nigerians, and particularly the people of Abia State, to the brutality of prowling kidnappers.

        There was another case of kidnapping of 20 pupils of Abayi International School, Osisioma in Aba. They were taken them to unknown destination. While demanding a N20 million ransom, the hoodlums later abandoned the kids following a military operation mounted to rescue them. As, the 20 pupils were released, another six students of the Federal Government College, Ikot Ekpene Akwa-Ibom State, were kidnapped in Abia State (Daily Sun 8th October, 2011).

 

4.2   Women Kidnapping

The Daily Champion of 2nd June, 2011 reported the kidnap of the wife of a Bishop of the Anglican Communion along the Aba – Port – Harcourt express way demanding a ransom of N15m. The Abia State police command on the 7th of July 2010 announced the arrest of Dr. Hyacinth Orikara accused of allegedly harboring pregnant women until they are delivered of their babies with a settlement of between N30,000 and N25,000. These babies were alleged to have been used for commercial purposes. It was reported that the act continued until the Abia State police command acting on a tip off stormed that hospital, made some arrest while Dr. Hycient was charged to court and imprisoned. Today, the target of the kidnappers is mainly women and children, especially those of the wealthy and influential in the society. The United Nation’s children’s fund called the incidents of women and children kidnapping a “craven kidnap”. UNICEF declared that “under no circumstances should children be the target of violence, and kidnapping children for financial gain is simply heinous”. (universal declaration of human rights,  article 3,4 and 5). The kidnappers often leave in their trail blood, tears and anguish.   

 

4.3   Implications of Women and Children Kidnapping in Abia State

        Kidnapping women and children could have certain implications socially, economically, culturally and religiously too. For the purpose of this research, we shall limit ourselves to the religious and cultural implications of women and children kidnapping in Abia State.

4.3.1        Religious Implications

        The incessant cases of kidnapping of both women and children have affected the worship of God (church activities) negatively due to the fear of children and women to be kidnapped.

Ugochukwu Asiegbu (oral information 07/07/2011) hinted why the people are always afraid of being kidnapped:

Not all those that were kidnapped were lucky enough to leave the kidnappers den alive. Some of them actually died either in the process of resistance or as a result of the trauma they went through. 

 

There was a report on the Thisday Newspaper of (11th January, 2009) on an attempt by a group of armed men to kidnap a pastor of The Redeemed Christian Church of God within Aba Metropolis. The effect according to the report was not only the death of some persons (Church members) who attempted to prevent the supposed kidnappers but a decline in the number of members for fear of another attack. There was even suspicion among members who felt that some of their “members” were informants to the kidnappers.

        Religiously too, money that could have been used to support the work of God was diverted to the payment of ransom to the kidnappers. Some Christians hide under the guise of being identified by the kidnappers to withhold their financial support for the church in Abia State.

For John Umegwali (Oral Information 07/07/2011) who was kidnapped and released after about six days had this to say:

When the kidnappers dropped me around 11pm, the question that comes to my mind was whether God existed at all or whether God hast not seen anything good in my relationship with him.

 

 

4.3.2        Cultural Implications

        There are negative cultural implications of women and children kidnapping. In the first place, kidnapping of children and other categories of people is a source of the violation of human rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In most cases of kidnapping, the right of association, freedom of movement and the right to life are normally violated. It is a crime against humanity and the rights of persons and nations as guaranteed by the universal declaration of human rights especially articles 3, 4, 5 as indicated herein. Article 3- every one has the right to life, liberty and security of person. Article 4- no one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms. Article 5 – no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.  The African charter on human and peoples rights adopted June, 27, 1981 and entered into force October 21, 1986 also domesticated the principles and articles of the universal declaration of human rights to the effect that every person is entitled to freedom of movement, respect for his life, protection, and the right to liberty and security of his person.

        Kidnapping, no doubt negates all these rights as person are captured, detained against their wish, tortured and sometimes murdered.

        Secondly, kidnapping is a threat to the survival of the society or the governments as people are innocently embarrassed on daily basis. This according to Uzoma Nosike (oral information 08/07/2011) causes tension and disregard to laid down cultural norms of the society. This leads to increase in crime rate as kidnapping is infectious. This is because many unemployed graduates will be tempted to take to kidnapping (crime) for the purpose of making money to cater for their homes. This could be attributed to the fact that ransoms are paid before the release of victims. More and more people are tempted to constitute themselves into nuisance, leading to disobedience of the laws of the land, embezzlement of public funds and destruction of lives and properties. Activities of these kidnappers disrupt socio-cultural and recreational events in the society, especially in Aba and it’s environs. The daily sun of 12th March, 2010, reported how the Port Harcourt – Aba express way was behive of activities of these armed bandits who thrones the road users there causing mayhem.  If this trend is not check, even cultural activities like masquerades or festival will be affected. It will be suicidal for any community to engage in any gathering due to the fear of the unknown. Kidnapping according to Ogechi Chinedu (oral information 08/07/2011) has also affected the family institution. He maintained that:

There is the tendency of lives of wealthy persons to stage their husbands for the purpose of sharing the ransom to be paid and vice versa.

Children are made to imbibe some form of negative orientations and seem to believe that kidnapping is lucrative venture that ought to be embraced. Children were highly traumatized and tend to see a beclouded future of military, thurgery and killings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER FIVE

SUMMARY, RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSION

5.1   Summary

This project discusses the cultural and religious implications of women and children kidnapping in Aba-Abia State with emphasis on the need for the government and the people to rise to the occasion in order to stop this menace for the benefit of society.

        Chapter one is the introduction of the work with the following sub-headings -background of the study, Statement of the Problem, Purpose of the Study, Research Methodology, Scope of the Study, Limitations as well as Significance of the Study.

        Chapter two is the review of literature with two major sub-heading meaning and types of kidnapping in Nigeria and certain cases of kidnapping in Nigeria.

        Chapter three dealt with Abia State and patterns of kidnapping-types, history of origin, government and community response to kidnapping, strategies as well as effects of kidnapping in Abia State.

Chapter four dealt with the trend of women and children kidnapping, religious and cultural implications in Abia State.

        Chapter five is the summary, recommendations and conclusion.

 

5.2   Recommendations

        The need for the eradication of kidnapping and other social vices cannot be over emphasized. This research recommends the following.

        Government should tackle the problem of unemployment to reduce the rate at which the youth of today embrace kidnapping as a lucrative venture.

        Government at all levels should intensify efforts through a joint police and vigilante patrol to forestall wandering at odd times, thereby reducing the risk of kidnapping of especially in the night.

        The community members should teach their members especially the youth morals to discourage their indulgence in atrocious activities like kidnapping.

        The federal government should intensity the war against corruption which scholars seem to have agreed is the root of kidnapping in the country.

        The Niger Delta issues of deprivation, cheating and underdevelopment should be addressed in order to reduce the rate of agitation by the people, leading to kidnapping for ransom.

        There is need to apply traditional religious method of identifying and punishing kidnapper to serve as deterrents to others who could have resorted to such atrocious deeds.

It is important to mention the fact that people always have a way of dragging God into every man made problem in this country. The celebration that heralded the release of most victims is infectious that even the police have joined the alleluia chorus. What has the government done to address this menace? Is the police or better still the joint military task force done to address the situation especially in Aba-Abia State?

According to Lawrence – Hart 2009: 31:

 

 

 

Africans are religious people, so the aspect of crime detection and other social vices should not only be handled secularly but religiously too. The job of crime detection should not be handled by the police alone. The Dibias, Babalawos, the traditional priest etc. should be called upon to help out in cases where the police cannot succeed. These traditionalists have the spiritual abilities to fish out those who are responsible for social disorder in the society.

 

Lawrence-Hart (2009:31) continued this on the religious dimension of kidnapping in the Niger Delta region thus:

This is because in traditional African societies, peace is not an abstract poetic concept, but rather a down-to-earth and practical concept. It is a religious value in that the order, harmony and equilibrium in the universe and society is believed to be divinely established and the obligation to maintain them is religious. It is also a moral value since good conduct is required of human beings if the order, harmony and equilibrium are to be maintained.

 

The above discussed religious implications are application to the other religions practiced by those residing in Abia State including Islam.

 

 

 

 

 

5.3   Conclusion

As earlier stated in the background and part of the literature review which borders on the factors that necessitated crimes which kidnapping is not an exception, against the backdrop of popularly held theories that crime is associated with the gap between the “rich” and the “poor”, unequal economic conditions, unemployment, poverty etc.

        This study agrees with the Marxist theory that kidnapping is a reaction to this obvious socio-economic gap due to the obnoxious attitude of our political leadership in Nigeria. It is also safe to say that this study also align totally to the views of some scholars/commentators that the solution to this problem lies in government’s sincerity to addressing the identified problems of poverty greed, corruption and the failure of government at the different levels to providing the basic needs of the society.

The fact that kidnapping is a threat to the survival of the society and associated with the violation of the rights of the people as entrenched in the universal declaration of human rights and the African charter on the people’s rights which guarantees the right to life, dignity of human person etc.

On the part of the citizens, there is need for re-orientation to the effect that kidnapping is a crime against society and should be discouraged by all and sundry to ensure a peaceful, harmonious and crime free society.  

In any case, the dominant religions in Nigeria-Christianity and Islam should intensify efforts at propagating the core values of love, togetherness and unity.

However, the menace of kidnapping has assumed a dangerous proportion, if not check is capable of balkanizing the entire country. It is the considered opinion of this research that the root cause of kidnapping should be addressed by both the government and the community, at least to ensure a harmonious society devoid of rancour and acrimony. On the part of the citizens, there is need for re-orientation to the effect that kidnapping is devilish and that kidnappers are bound to suffer death penalty when caught.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Primary Sources

 

Oral Interview

 

 

Names

Age

Home town

Date of interview

Place of interview

Status

Jeremiah Uchenna

70

Aba

04/04/2011

Aba

Chief

Ugochukwu Asiegbu

62

Aba

18/04/2011

Aba

Chief

John Umegwali

72

Aba

19/04/2011

Aba

Elder

Ogechi Chinedu

68

Aba

18/04/2011

Aba

Elder

Uzoma Nosike

73

Aba

18/04/2011

Aba

Elder

Okoro Okoro

80

Aba

10/05/2011

Aba

Priest

Johson Amara

44

Aba

04/04/2011

Aba

Chief

Okeke Uche

60

Aba

19/04/2011

Aba

Elder

Okonkwo Chidi

62

Aba

18/04/2011

Aba

Chief

Secondary Sources

 

Published works (Books)

 

Akama, E.S. (ed) (2001) “Owh’oyede Festival of the Isoko

people” Studies in Arts, Religious and Culture among the Urhobo and Isoko people. Port Harcourt, Pam Unique Publishers.

 

Awolalu and Dopamu (1979), West African Traditional Religion.

Ibadan, Onibonoje Press and Book. Industries (Nig.) Limited.

 

 

 

Ejizu, C.I. (2007) “The Meaning and Significance of Festivals in

Traditional African Culture and Life”. C.I. Ejizu ed. Kiabara Readings on Religion  and Culture. Faculty of Humanities, University of Port Harcourt.

 

Ikenga Metuh (1987), Comparative Studies of Africa

Traditional Religions. Onitsha, Imico publishers.

 

Mbilit, J.S. (1969), African Religions and Philosophy, London,

Heinemann Educational books Ltd.

 

Tasie, G.I.K (ed) (2007), “From Living Elders to Ancestors, A

case of Isiokpo-Ikwerre Rites Relating to the Installation of Ancestors and the Ancestral Cult”. In aspects of Niger Delta Indigenous Religions. Port Harcourt, University of Port Harcourt Press.

 

Peter, Chimaobi Peters (2009), “Structure of African

Indigenous Religions. In aspects of Niger Delta Indigenous Religions. Tasie, G.I.K (ed), Port Harcourt, Cladik press.

 

Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary.

 

Dinne, Chukwuma O.  (2009), “Sources and Stages in the

Study of African Traditional Religion”. Tasie, G.I.K ed. Port Harcourt, Chadik press.

 

Ukwu, Elems (2010), “The evil of kidnapping in Nigeria;

implications on the economy”. A paper delivered as part of activities making the end of year party of Akwa-Ibom League of friends, Port Harcourt.

 

Holy Bible, New living translation.

 

Iwarimie-Jaja, (2010), Criminology, Crime and Delinquency in

Nigeria, Port Harcourt, Pearl Publishers.

 

Abrahanson, D. (1945), Crime and the Human Mind. New

York; Columbia University Press.

Oloruntimehin, F.O. (1984), Social Reactions to Deviance in

Nigeria. Institute of Comparative Criminology, Montreal, Canada.

 

Lawrence – hart, (2009), Neglect of the gods, the cause of

insecurity in the Niger Delta, Ijebu-Ode, Miklas Prints.

 

Internet Sources

Hakeem Jamin (2009) Media wikipedia.

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