There is no denying the fact that the arrest of the notorious kidnapper, Chukwudidumeme Onuamadike, alias Evans, at the weekend along with six members of his gang at Magodo, Lagos, by police operatives from the intelligence teams has exposed the criminal advances being made by kidnappers in the country.
Evans, who has undeservedly become a billionaire due to his unholy act, told detectives that though he could not recall the number of people he kidnapped or the amount of money he collected as ransom. However, he was able to mention a few of his victims.
Suffice it to say that I was compelled to write this piece when it dawned on me that most of his nefarious exploits where carried out in Edo state where he confessed to have kidnapped Mr. Ohunyon Ernest in November 2011. He added that the release of Ohunyoun fetched him N85m , and Mr. Dan Odiete who was also kidnapped by the gang in Benin City in 2013. According to his confession, Odiete paid N100m to regain his freedom. He also said another victim who he simply named as Mr.Tom, was also kidnapped in Benin in 2012 but was released after paying the ransom of N100m to the gang.
Still in his confession, Evans said the owner of Kings Paint was also kidnapped in Benin City in 2010 by the same gang and had to pay N40m to regain his freedom even as Mr. Randeki, who was kidnapped by the gang in 2010 paid N30m for his release.
The big questions on the minds of many now are: Would it not be nice for security operatives in Edo to tap into the confessions of Evans, and build on information gathered to advance pending investigations on kidnapping cases that have so far occurred in Edo in the last few years? The reason for anchoring this view on Edo is that, even if he was arrested in Lagos, most of his past criminal activities were carried out in Edo state. Also, that he did not confess to have carried out any kidnap recently in the state does not rule out the guess that he was not unsuccessfully operating in the state in the recent times before he was arrested. Again, one may not be totally wrong to opine that he may have made a number of accomplice or partners-in-crime in the state.
Against the foregoing backdrop, I am in this context urging security operatives in Edo to work with the confessions of Evans and adopt the security tips that are inherent in them to fight incidences of kidnapping in the state. Also, they should commence beaming their searchlights beyond the state each time there is an incident of kidnapping. To me, his confessions are eye openers that need to be tapped into.
As an Edolite, I was wont to get worried each time I read a news story that bother on Kidnapping in Edo state. The reason for becoming worried cannot be farfetched when seen from the fact that kidnapping is an ignominious crime that is capable of denting the image of the state. Alas! It is surprising to realise that with the confessions of Evans that no Edolite was arrested in respect to past kidnappings carried out in Edo state. I am equally using this medium to appeal that if some Edo youths had been wrongfully detained or jailed in respect to the cases of kidnapping he confessed to should once again be looked into in the light of the recent development.
I am through this peace appealing to Edo Security Service to seriously work with the confessions of Evans as they would go a long way in helping the state to combat kidnapping. The reason for this cannot be far-fetched as kidnappers have never been reported to have been merciful or shown compassion to their captives. A rundown of reported activities of kidnappers will reveal that many souls have been wasted as a result of the acts of wickedness that were perpetrated by them. For instance, among many other cases of kidnapping recorded in the state in the past, the Edo State Police Command in 2015 arrested five persons that were connected with the kidnap and killing of an Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics, Paul Erie, of the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma in Igbanke community Edo State.
In fact, the recent arrest of Evans and his confessions have further strengthened my belief that kidnappers are satanic. There is no religion, even paganism, that does not hold the belief that nefarious act of kidnapping is bad. A reinforcement to this belief can be found in the bible in Exodus 21 verse 16 which says “He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death. Also, Deuteronomy 24 verse 7 says “If a man is caught kidnapping any of his countrymen of the sons of Israel, and he deals with him violently or sells him, then that thief shall die; so you shall purge the evil from among you”.
There is no denying the fact that not a few readers would see this piece as a no-go-area exercise but I must confess that it is an area every Edolite should go to as it is capable of discouraging foreign investors from investing in the state.
In fact, security operatives in the state should with the arrest of Evans by the police operatives from the intelligence teams be on the alert more than ever before as other kidnappers in his mould may have been lurking around in the state replicating his strategies. They should strive to make Edolites proud by dismantling the strongholds of kidnappers across the 18 local governments in the state as well as ensuring that the interstate dimension it has taken should be stopped and perpetrators brought to book.
Finally, I am using this medium to urge our traditional rulers to be more security conscious by becoming eagle-eyed within their traditional jurisdictions as kidnappers cannot be said to be spirits. They live in our communities. Traditional rulers should begin to exercise their traditional roles beyond the settlement of cases at their palaces.
Apart from Evans confessions to the security agencies and the media, speeches made so far by his neighbours, kinsmen and even himself, indicate that his criminal exploits did not start overnight. Before any youth would have grown up to become a kidnapper, he may have exhibited some traits of delinquency within his immediate community so much so that the traditional ruler, neighbours or kinsmen would have noticed it. It is high time we stopped passing the buck to the police and the government.
The truth is that most traditional rulers and kinsmen usually employ nepotism in dealing with delinquent youths within any given community instead of reporting such youths to the police. In the same vein, parents are usually over protective of their children that are obviously wayward. There was the case of a so-called pastor in a neighbourhood whose teenage children pilfer items belonging to their neighbours and each time a case of theft involving his children is reported to him, he would dismiss it and simply say “it is a set up”, rather than call the children to order. The way the kids are going, they could someday become kidnappers, armed robbers or hardened criminals. The security situation in the nation has gotten to a point where parents should be compelled to hand over their delinquent children to the police. An African proverb says the hunter that refuses to detonate his dane gun would one day find his most precious son playfully detonate it for him.
In fact, parents should begin to literally draw the ears of their children whenever they err. Parents should always remember the scriptural injunction in Proverbs chapter 22 verse 6 that says, “Train a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not turn from it.” In other words, parents should train their children in the way they should go, when they are old they will not become kidnappers.
Against the foregoing backdrop, I implore members of Edo state security services to always ensure that they should at all times beam their searchlights to neighbouring states and the rural instead of seemingly limiting their activities to the state capital.
Finally, it is noteworthy to learn that in the bid to tackle the menace of herdsmen in Edo that the Deputy Governor, Mr Philip Shiabu, recently disclosed that there was a move towards the setting up a security committee that would be charged with the responsibility of developing security network to provide adequate security in rural communities. I am through this opinion suggesting that the state inaugurate similar committee to checkmate the incidences of kidnapping.
Isaac Asabor, A Journalist, writes from Lagos