Abdulrahman Dambazau, the Minister of Interior, has blamed the easy movement of firearms and other criminal activities in West African on the instability in Libya, a country in North Africa.
The minister said this at the 16th annual General Assembly of West African Police Chiefs Committee (WAPCCO), held in Abuja, on Tuesday.
He urged police chiefs in West Africa to collaborate more in order to tackle transnational crimes within the sub-region, noting that a single country cannot successfully combat trans-border crimes.
He said: “The proliferation of firearms is a big challenge in this sub-region, particularly because of the flow of firearms from unstable countries, like Libya. After Muamar Gaddafi, Libya went into conflict and it is still in conflict. Some of the weapons used in the country were trickling down through Mali, Niger and others.
“We are here because it is a regional issue. It is an issue that has to do either trans-border criminal activities, smuggling and terrorism. A country or a security agency cannot deal with these crimes on its own. This is the reason we have come together as a sub-region to assess the situation and deal with it accordingly.”
The minister also said there is need for collaboration and information sharing among security agencies in the sub-region.
Police chiefs in the sub-region have also asked the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) to upgrade it to a directorate.
The security chiefs, under the aegis of WAPCCO, regretted that its current structure makes it difficult for it to perform its roles optimally.
WAPCCO Chairman and acting Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu said constant meetings would avail the security chiefs the opportunity to tackle proliferation of firearms, terrorism, kidnapping and other crime within the sub-region.
Adamu noted that the inability of the committee to meet in the last five years restrained it from tackling some security challenges witnessed in the sub-region.
On some of the challenges confronting ECOWAS, he said: “We are having security challenges in the whole of West African sub-region and there is need for police chiefs and other heads of other security agencies to come together to see how we can bring down the level of crime within the sub-region.
“If you look at the 15 countries in the West African sub-region, you will see that they have one challenge or the other. We know that in Nigeria, we have challenges that involve kidnapping and we know that arms and ammunition are coming from outside the country but within the region. There is need to stop the influx of arms and ammunition within the country.”
Adamu said security agencies at the meeting would see how to fortify the borders to prevent infiltration by criminals.
On the need to upgrade WAPCCO to directorate position, the IGP said: “I respectfully submit without pre-empting your minds that it will not be difficult to come to the inevitable conclusion that the WAPCCO as currently situated within the border structure of ECOWAS is inhibiting the ability of the body to optimally attain its mandate.
“It is my humble suggestion that a review of the status of WAPCCO within the ECOWAS secretariat has become evidently necessary. Consequently, it is suggested that WAPCCO be upgraded to a directorate in ECOWAS.
“This will guarantee the regularity of WAPCCO’s thereby enhancing the dynamism and effectiveness of the Committee.”
Inside Enugu Where Families Kidnap One Another As Revenge
In Nigeria, even so-called men of God fake their own kidnap; same with husbands and wives. Sometimes, children also fake their own kidnap. Kidnapping has become fashionable in Africa’s most populous nation.
There is no end to kidnapping in Nigeria as kidnappers are often handsomely rewarded and sometimes given amnesty.
Even in Zamfara State, bandits who killed, kidnapped and razed houses were given ‘palatial’ treatment as they sat among policemen, traditional rulers, etc., to decide how peace could be maintained in the state. No arrest was made.
You kill, kidnap and commit arson in Nigeria, you are more likely to be respected.
But not every criminal-minded person enjoys that.
At other times, they are idolized and made celebrities. Upon the capture of the ‘billionaire’ kidnapper, Evans, Nigerian policemen excitedly posed for selfies with the alleged notorious kidnapper.
In Enugu, the kidnapping tale in Nigeria has become more intriguing with the news two brothers who kidnapped a member of another family for a bemusing reason, you will only know about in Nollywood movies.
According to PUNCH, two siblings were arrested by operatives of the Enugu State Police Command, on Friday.
They were Hyacinth Okeh and Fredrick Okweli.
Okeh and Okweli claimed that they were forced into kidnapping to avenge the abduction of their sister by their victim’s brothers.
These suspects were aged 20 and 22 respectively, are from Nimbo community in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Ebere Amaraizu, said they were arrested following their alleged involvement in the kidnap of Enejere Charles, who he claimed was their third victim.
Ebere Amaraizu said N187,000, two automatic pump action guns, charms, and two single-barrelled guns were recovered from the suspects.
But speaking to a source, the two men, who confessed to the crime, said they kidnapped their victim because his brothers, whose names they gave as Ogbonna Michael and Ezea Ifeanyi abducted their sister and collected N600,000 as ransom before her release.
Fredrick Okweli said: “I was arrested with my brother for kidnapping one man from our community. His brother abducted our sister and we kidnapped his brother in retaliation.
“We took our victim inside the bush and called his people to pay money before we released him.
“They paid the money but when we went to collect it at Ubollo-Afor in Udenu Local Government Area, the police arrested us”.
Hyacinth Okeh said: “After the money was paid and we were going to collect it at Ubollo-Afor, we didn’t know that security operatives had set a trap for us.
“Immediately we got to the place, we were arrested and taken back to the bush where we hid the victim and the gun, we used to carry out the operation.
“We had never kidnapped anybody before. We were forced to do this because Michael and Ifeanyi kidnapped our sister and collected money from us despite pleading with them,” he claimed.
Kidnapping: South-west State Assemblies Mull Stiffer Punishment For Kidnappers
The South-west state assemblies say they will establish laws that will impose stiffer punishment on kidnappers in the region.
Lagos and Ogun states already have laws prescribing the death penalty for kidnappers.
According to the Deputy Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly, Iroju Ogundeji, a bill recommending a death sentence for kidnappers was already in the works in Ondo and was awaiting passage.
The lawmaker, who decried the state of kidnappings and other forms of insecurity in the state, said the assembly was not happy with the development, especially the killing of Olakunrin.
Ogundeji said: “We are not happy with the ugly development; we already have a bill stipulating capital punishment for kidnappers and the bill would soon be passed into law. The bill entails that anybody found guilty of the kidnapping offence will be sentenced to death.”
Timothy Owoeye, the Speaker of the Osun State assembly, stated that the assembly would prescribe life imprisonment for kidnapping.
Owoeye said he had introduced the bill to the parliament and it would discourage kidnapping because of the stiff penalty recommended.
Owoeye said: “The bill which I introduced in June to curb the menace of kidnapping has passed first reading. The bill titled ‘State of Osun Kidnapping (Prohibition Bill), 2019’ recommends life imprisonment for perpetrators of the dastardly act.
“The bill has passed first reading but the House has decided to conduct public hearings so as to get the input of critical stakeholders as well as kidnap victims.
“On the issue of the death penalty, when the victim of a kidnap dies in the process of kidnapping, it is simply a murder charge; and it will be repetitive to introduce new laws considering there are enacted laws in place to deal with the issue.”
The Ekiti assembly has also called for a review of existing laws on kidnapping and banditry with the imposition of more stringent penalties for the offences.
The Speaker of the Ekiti assembly, Funminiyi Afuye, said a law for “very stiff penalties” would be passed “after a meeting of all stakeholders in the South-West”.
She said the house would not support death sentence for kidnappers, saying, “For now, a very stiff penalty is okay.”
However, the Speaker of the Oyo assembly, Adebo Ogundoyin, said consultations were ongoing over the spate of kidnappings in order to get an enabling law that would cater for all the six states in the South-West.
All the six states’ assemblies in the region recently converged on Ibadan for a security summit and agreed to tackle the menace of kidnapping.
Ogundoyin said: “On the issue of whether there would be a death penalty for killer herdsmen or kidnappers, we are going to take a common position on that with other state assemblies in the zone.”
Save Lagos From Child Cultism, African Action Congress Tells Sanwo-Olu
The Lagos State Chapter of the African Action Congress has called on Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to immediately address child cultism and insecurity in Lagos.
The party stated that the terror of child cultism was rapidly growing in the state, estimating that ‘six out of every ten children’ in Lagos are cultists.
The party said, “a 72-hour mass violence of child cultism with different names like “Omo Kesari” , “Awawa” “One Million Boys,” Seven Street Boys in Oshodi; Judas Iscariot Boys in Ejigbo; and others in Idimu, Ikotun and other areas vindicate the reports that Lagos is one of the most underdeveloped states in Nigeria, given the wealth owned by the state and the fact that its debt is second only to the Federal Government.”
Kunle Wizeman Ajayi, Acting State Chair of AAC, heaped the blame of child cultism on the low quality of education in the state, adding that the political leaders further impoverished the people by taking over all local trade places in the state.
“The reign of child cultism today can be attributed to the general collapse of public education in Lagos as well as the mass unemployment in the state. Private schools are times three of public schools.
“It is also appalling that most of the trading power of our poor people like markets, mechanic villages, and sports arenas have all been destroyed, seized.
“Then what kind of government is ignoring the night economy? This is a lucrative economy that can even resolve unemployment as well as reduce child cultism,” Wizeman said.
He stressed that the Lagos State government must put measures in place to equip and ensure all children have access to free education.
He also urged the state governor to desist from the indiscriminate arrest of innocent citizens through the machinery of the state government.
“Child cultists can be trained to become the greats of the future with democratic, pro-people standards!
“Governor Sanwo-Olu must also not resort to setting the Lagos Task Force loose to arrest traders, innocent citizens, and Okada riders. Face the real issues and tackle the problems headlong.
“Even if a government wants to prevent trade littering the streets, is it not much more correct to create alternative spaces for these traders instead of violent repression.
“Lagos AAC calls on Lagos towns to immediately build independent community Vigilance Teams. Then we all need to demand that Lagos is truly made working at all levels through free functional and compulsory education.
“Massive industrialisation and creative development of the night economy are needed to cater for employment and reducing poverty,” Wizeman stated.
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