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The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, on Wednesday, cautioned the public against the practice of paying ransom to bandits and kidnappers, because on the contrary, it encourages the scourge.
This was as the federal government has warned against crowdfunding in support of ransom payment to kidnappers by relatives of victims, saying there was an extant law against it.
Minister of Defence, Abubakar Badaru, gave the warning while fielding questions from reporters after the maiden 2024 Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, presided by President Bola Tinubu at State House, Abuja.
But Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Kayode Egbetokun, declared on Wednesday that the security forces would be decisive in their renewed bid to contain kidnappers and armed bandits running amok in the nation’s capital. Egbetokun made the declaration in Abuja during the launch of a special intervention unit of the Nigeria Police to tackle the menace of kidnappers, bandits, and other criminal elements, especially in the FCT.
As part of efforts to stem the tide of insecurity, the Department of Development Control of FCT Administration said it had begun to compile a list of all shanties and informal settlements in Abuja for verification purposes.
The warning against ransom payment followed reports that Nigerians had raised over N50 million through crowdfunding to pay the ransom for the release of five daughters of Abuja resident, Mansoor Al-Kadriya.
Six siblings had been abducted from their father’s house in Bwari Council, Abuja, on December 26, 2023, alongside their father. Although their father was later released to go and raise the ransom, the kidnappers killed one of his daughters, Nabeeha, last Friday for failing to raise the said ransom, leaving five in captivity.
Wike, who cautioned the public against paying ransom to bandits and kidnappers through crowdfunding, made the plea on Wednesday at a town hall meeting on insecurity held at Bwari Area Council.
The meeting was attended by heads of security agencies in the territory, led by FCT Commissioner of Police, Garba Haruna; the Sarkin-Bwari, Alhaji Awwal Musa Ijakoro; and Chairman of Bwari Area Council, John Gabaya.
Gabaya said the council was planning to mobilise 50 hunters and 50 vigilantes into a joint security taskforce and support them with logistics, to complement the efforts of the security agencies in protecting the 90 villages and 16 districts that constitute Bwari Council.
Wike lamented that the practice of raising ransom through crowdfunding gained traction after N700 million was demanded by bandits as ransom for seven residents of Sagwari Estate Layout, Dutse, who were abducted recently.
He said, “We have to stop this idea of going to the radio to say we are ready to raise money. When you do that, those criminals are happy. They are happy when the people that are concerned, you people, want to raise money.
“No. I know it is painful that your wife, your children, and your husband have been kidnapped. All we want is to stop it, not to encourage it.
“Journalists should also help us. We need the support of everybody. The kind of news you write also will encourage them.”
Earlier, Gabaya disclosed that the council comprised 16 districts and over 90 villages and hamlets, adding that the size and difficult terrain of Bwari council made the security challenges huge.
He requested that the needed logistics be provided to security agencies in the area, and added that they required at least a vehicle and seven motorcycles in each district for effective patrol and surveillance.
The Bwari area council chairman also appealed for training and retraining of hunters and villagers engaged by the council for security.
Commenting on crowdfunding for purposes of ransom payment, Badaru said there was an existing law that prohibited the payment of ransom to kidnappers.
According to him, “We all know that there is an existing law against payment of ransom. So, it is very sad for people to go over the internet and radio asking for donations to pay ransom.
“This will only worsen the situation, it will not help the situation at all, as you have seen. Initially, they asked for N60 million and now because of this funding I learnt somebody has raised N50 million already through friends and media, and the kidnappers jacked up the ransom.
“We believe we have to stop. As painful as it is, we have to stop responding to requests for ransom. If we stop, over time the kidnapping will not be profitable and they will stop.
“It is not easy though, that is the law, that you know. So, we want to call on the people to manage the kidnapping situation intelligently and very quietly, because talking too much about it, most especially, raising funds through the public, media, is not productive at all and should be discontinued.”
The minister, who also condemned the activities of terrorists and kidnappers wreaking havoc across the country, noted that kidnapping in the FCT was high within the area councils.(www.naija247news.com)