KIDNAPPING IN NIGERIA: IMPLICATIONS AND CHALLENGES FOR NATIONAL SECURITY

KIDNAPPING IN NIGERIA: IMPLICATIONS AND CHALLENGES FOR NATIONAL SECURITY

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ABSTRACT

        This study examined the implications and challenges of kidnapping for national security. The objective of the study was to among other things identify, the causes of kidnapping in Nigeria as well as its implications for the national security and the strategies to curb it. The studies discuss varying views on the concept of kidnapping and national security. Kidnapping started in Nigeria as a result of the agitations in Niger Delta to get the attention of the Government and the International Communities Concerning their plight.

        The methodology involved the analysis of data from both primary and secondary sources. The study was limited to the Niger Delta and South Eastern state of the Country. The research questions were answered after the analysis of the Data. The study identified political, social and economic implications of military for National Security. The study also brought to the fore the salient point that bad political leadership, poverty and unemployment  are some of the factors that have encouraged kidnapping in Nigeria.     

        The study apart from identifying the implications of kidnapping for national security, it also proffered some solutions. One of which is the Government should address the problems of poverty and unemployment in the country.


CHAPTER ONE

1.0    GENEERAL INTRODUCTION

1.1    BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

          On 23 Oct 09, Paul and Rachel Chandler, a couple from Tunbridge, Kent in Great Britain went for a sailing adventure from Tanzania to Seychelles. Midway into their course, they were ambushed by some pirates from Somalia and held hostage for 388 day; approximately 13 months. The pirates later demanded for a ransom      of 1million United States of America (USA) dollars as the condition for the release of the couple. They eventually released them on 14 Nov 10 after the last part of the required ransom was paid.1

          Prior to the 1990s, incidences of kidnapping and hostage taking were among the news items that were reported in the Nigerian news media that happened in other parts of the world. That time, Nigerian society was relatively secured and her national security was not facing the challenges of kidnapping or hostage taking. Today however, kidnapping has become one of the challenges to Nigeria’s national security.

          Kidnapping is the act of taking a person against his or her will or from the control of a parent or guardian, from one place to another usually through violence, force, threat or intimidation under circumstances in which the person so taken does not have freedom of movement, will or decision. Although it is not necessary that the purpose be criminal, the capture usually involves some related criminal act such as holding the person for ransom, sexual and or sadistic abuse.2 The word ‘kidnap’ originated from Scandinavian language ‘kid’ which means child. Kidnapping originally meant stealing a child, but now the      concept applies to adults also.(Gerald Hill http//legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com)

          The history of kidnapping in Nigeria is traceable to the Niger Delta regions where over 80 per cent of Nigeria’s crude oil is deposited.3 The exploration and exploitation of this crude oil led to the influx of expatriates into that region. These expatriates form part of the staff of oil companies like Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) which are involved in the oil exploration.

          The oil exploration in Niger Delta led to gas flaring and oil spillages into the seas. This affected the source of livelihood and occupation of the people of Niger Delta which was mainly fishing and other aquatic cultures. Many of the youths of this area lost their source of livelihood and could not have alternative means of livelihood especially through gainful employment in the oil servicing companies in their neighbourhoods. Furthermore, government did not do much in developing the region. Apparently, government’s presence in terms of good road networks, pipe-borne water, good schools and hospitals were lacking. Accordingly, the people of Niger Delta felt marginalized by the government. Some of their leaders like Ken Saro Wiwa and 8 others, who spoke against this supposed injustice and marginalization, were killed by the instruments of the state.4

          This situation led to the emergence of various armed militant groups in Niger Delta agitating for control of the resources in their land. These militant groups included Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF) and Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP). These groups used various means to draw the attention of government and the international community to the deplorable condition in which they believe they lived. Their activities included disruptions of oil work by setting oil wells ablaze and taking expatriate oil workers hostage.

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          One of such incidents took place on 31 Jul 00. On this date,   about 100 militant youths held 165 oil workers hostage till 5 Aug in an oil drilling rig owned by SPDC in Ekeremo Local Government Area (LGA) of Bayelsa State.5 Hostage taking at this stage was mainly a way of getting government’s attention. Later on however, the militants started asking for ransom, before they would free their victims. This marked the genesis of known cases of kidnapping in Nigeria.

          Today, kidnapping is no longer one of the ways the militants drew government’s attention to the deplorable conditions of living in Niger Delta. The menace of kidnapping is now reported across the length and breadth of Nigeria from the East, West and North to the Southern parts. Victims of kidnapping now cut across expatriates, politician, civil servants, actors, industrialists, clerics, journalists, women and children. Kidnapping in Nigeria has become pandemic. Some of the many reasons for its spread might be economic others political, while some could be religious. Whatever the reason for kidnapping, its implication and challenges for national security has become worrisome.

          National security is the continued ability of a country to pursue its internal life without serious interference.6  National security of a state is one of the determinants of the survival of the state. In this regard, governments of nations consider its national security very vital to its continued existence. Speaking at the flagging off ceremony of his presidential campaign in Lafia Nasarawa State, President Goodluck Jonathan said that he will not play politics with national security. Additionally he affirmed that armed robbers, kidnappers, terrorist and all those whose activities overtly or covertly threaten the security of Nigeria should be prepared for the fight his government would give them.7

          In view of the implications of kidnapping to national security government at all levels are taking stringent measures to curb the menace. For example the government of Rivers and Abia States have passed a bill into law conferring death sentence on anyone convicted of the crime of kidnapping.8

1.2    STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

          Nigeria is a country with great human and natural resources for growth and development. If these potentials are well harnessed, it would invariably lead to a strong economy where national security is guaranteed. However, the country has not been able to harness these abundant human and national potentials. Consequently, the country’s economy is still at the cradle and its national security is frosted with many challenges.

          This state of affairs has resulted in the feeling of insecurity especially among the youths and increased the pressure and restiveness in the polity. Bad political leadership, unemployment, corruption and poverty are among the factors that are believed to be responsible for this feeling of insecurity. Furthermore, perceived injustice in the socio-economical balance in the country has contributed significantly to the despair by the citizens particularly the youths. It is believed that these conditions have contributed to the wide spread kidnapping across the country.

          President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan commented on kidnapping in the light of its challenges to national security. He said, ‘...the security challenges crawled in gradually as if it would not be too harmful and government failed to take frontal attack as at that time until it became a cancer now that needs surgical operation and probably a radio-therapy to cure... no part of this country will be allowed to be a sanctuary for criminals – robbers or kidnappers’.9

          Based on the foregoing, this study seeks to proffer answers to the following research questions:

a.       What factors are responsible for wide spread kidnapping in Nigeria? 

b.    What is the relationship between kidnapping and national security?

c.       What are the implications and challenges of kidnapping to national security?

d.   What strategies could be adopted to curb the menace of kidnapping in Nigeria?

1.3    OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

          The objective of the study is:

a.       To identify the factors responsible for wide spread kidnapping in Nigeria.

b.      To determine the relationship between kidnapping and national security.

c.       To determine the implications and challenges of kidnapping to national security.

d.     To proffer strategies that could help in curbing the menace of kidnapping in Nigeria.

1.4    RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS

          There is a notion that the stability and peaceful co-existence of a country can only be effectively threatened by the use of force of arm against the government or its agencies. Therefore nations often pay more attention to training and equipping its armed forces to be able to defend the country from any attack. However, in many instances, insecurity of individual citizens has effectively exposed some countries to serious security challenges. The recent incidents in Tunisia, Egypt and currently Libya readily come to mind.10

          Some of the causes of insecurity to citizens of countries include armed robbery, kidnapping, unemployment and poverty. This study seeks to establish that the increased rate of kidnapping in Nigeria is a major threat to the stability of the country. In addition, that some of the reasons this vice is on the increase is because of bad political leadership, unemployment, poverty, and corruption among others. Conversely if these issues are addressed by the government the menace would reduce.

1.5    SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY





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