Coordinator National Counter-Terrorism Centre in the Office of the National Security Adviser (NCTC-ONSA), Rear Admiral Yaminu Musa (rtd), has said proceeds of kidnapping were being used to partly finance terrorism.
Musa said this Wednesday in Abuja during the “Anti-Kidnap Multi-Agency Fusion Cell Media and Communication workshop” organised by ONSA in collaboration with the British High Commission.
He said: “Kidnapping for ransom is also identified as one of the means of funding terrorism. Thus, carnage unleashed by kidnappers in affiliation with terrorist groups all over the world leading to loss and disruption of lives and properties, is a major concern. Hence the need for collective efforts in advancing measures to check the threat.
“Evidently, the menace requires concerted and sustained efforts by every citizen, government at all levels, the international community and the media which of course is the Fourth Estate of the Realm.
“You will agree with me that proceeds of kidnap for ransom enterprise have continued to serve as a platform for financing terrorism not only in Nigeria but across the Sahel.”
Musa said the workshop was pertinent to the overall success of the government’s effort to curtail the menace of kidnapping.
He added that the media would help build the kind of relationship the NCTC-ONSA desired on the efforts of security agencies in the protection of lives and properties in the country.
According to him, the agenda-setting role of the media cannot be over-emphasised in the fight against terrorism and other associated crimes like kidnapping.
“In an increasingly interconnected world, where information spreads at an unprecedented pace, the media has the power to either amplify or mitigate the impact of security-related news events.
“The consequences of inaccurate or sensationalist reporting can be detrimental to public trust, exacerbate fear and anxiety, and even hinder counterterrorism efforts,” he said.
The coordinator said it was vital that the government and the media work together to establish a framework of synergy and standardisation for reporting on security-related matters.
He said such collaboration would not only enhance the accuracy and quality of news reporting but also contribute to national security.
Agreement between UK, Nigeria
The Programme Manager, National Crime Agency UK, Chris Grimson, said the workshop was a fall out of a number of agreements between Nigeria and the UK to create a multi-agency kidnap fusion cell.
Grimson said the purpose of the workshop was to identify and explore what was needed to create the fusion cell or whatever it turns out to be.
One of the facilitators of the workshop, Leye Jaiyeola, a retired rear admiral, said: “The fusion cell workshop was designed to come up with a joint decision model to allow for an effective multi-agency use and conflict resolution.”
Jaiyeola said the workshop was meant to set up principles that would provide participants with an agreed framework to support decision-making and develop appropriate legislation for effective management and resolution of kidnapping issues.
He said kidnapping had become a major threat in Nigeria, hence the need to develop an agreed national kidnap fusion and coordination mechanism.
“Our focus is to make sure that we maintain a strategic national kidnap operation posture, get all the agencies involved in doing it, so that we will be able to put our feet at the right spot and come up with a set of principles so that the commanders will be able to deliver.
“We have looked at coming up with standard operating procedure, looked at developing the doctrine itself and this session of workshop is the session that involves relating with the public so that they will build trust and confidence in the security. Before now that is missing. As to what the security agencies are doing, and in some instances, it is assumed that the security agencies are not doing anything, which in most instances is informed by a lack of knowledge of what the security agencies are doing.
“So the essence of this phase of training is for us to develop what we call a clear and effective information-sharing strategy and an effective information-sharing platform,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the workshop has participants drawn from the media, military, security agencies, ministries, departments and agencies.
…Police, DSS identify factors
In his remarks, Force Public Relations Officer ACP Muyiwa Adejobi said kidnapping in the country had evolved over the years, noting that there was need to study the trends.
Adejobi said: “Kidnapping has dimensions. A dimension came, it was kidnapping for ransom, another came, the victims were kidnapped, ransom negotiated and then the victims were killed. Then there is a dimension whereby a victim is kidnapped, his abductors collect ransom then go ahead to kill the victim and still negotiate before the corpse is released. Are we looking into these dimensions?”
He said to overcome the menace, the conspiracy among the society needed to be broken, adding that a stringent law should also be put in place to curb kidnapping in the country.
He said: “We need to break the conspiracy of silence. We will need to talk to our people to expose them. Kidnappers hide amongst our people and have their hideouts in communities. Our law should be strict about this. I know states that have these laws that dissuade people from supporting kidnappers. I know some states where any house or properties used for kidnapping are forfeited.”
Adejobi also called on all intelligence agencies to work together to contain kidnapping and other forms of criminality in the country.
Also speaking, spokesman of the Department of State Service(DSS), Dr Peter Afunanya, blamed the spate of kidnapping on political, economic and ideological factors.
He also said disorientation in the family values also fueled the scourge.
Afunanya said: “There are pull and push factors that have encouraged kidnapping whether they are political, economical or ideological for people who have taken to the crime of kidnapping. Also, there is a disorientation in family values. The family as the most important aspect of society has broken down, cultural values have also disappeared. “
Reeling measures put in place by the service to address the issue, Afunanya said the DSS had established a special unit to tackle kidnappings in the country.
…Taraba residents sacked, scores abducted
In a related development, residents of at least 15 communities in Bali local government area of Taraba state, fled their homes after an attack on them by terrorists, locally referred to as bandits.
Residents said the bandits had been attacking communities in the area since August. The witnesses said more than 40 people were kidnapped or missing following the attack.
Bali is located in the central zone of the state and some 161km from Jalingo, the state capital.
Villagers said the criminals often hide within the surrounding forest and mountains to launch attacks and hide in them afterwards.
Some sacked communities are Garbatau, Mirimidankol, Gidan Hamidu, Dangiwa and Nayinawa.
Others are Garin Gima, Bantaguru, ShaDussa, Garin Bose, Mailabari, and Kaigama among several other communities.
Also on Wednesday, 6 September, they attacked Garba Chede, a large settlement in the locality, according to residents many are still missing, including women and children.
Residents said the growing number of abductions in the area is halting business and farming activities in many of the villages of the LGA.
A resident of Bali town, Sani Ibrahim, told Premium Times that because of the recurring attacks, most of the communities fled their homes, and the bandits now live in those communities
“This is the situation now in Bali. We are in a terrible situation. Even last Wednesday they attacked Garba Chede, where most of the displaced persons are taking refuge, and kidnapped many, including women and children.
“We can’t go to the farm because if you are found in the farm, you will either be abducted or killed. Life has become entirely miserable. We are calling on relevant authorities to come to our aid.
One of the villagers from the Garbatau community, Musa Mainoma, said residents of the affected villages deserted the area and were now taking refuge in Garba Chede, Sunkani, and Pamamga towns.
He said many of those that fled were still missing and parents searching for their missing children.
Mainoma said the bandits kidnapped many villagers and rustled cattle and also looted shops in all the villages they attacked.
A resident of Garba Chede explained that over three thousand people who ran away from the farming communities during the attacks are now taking refuge in Garba Chede town
He said residents of Garba Chede town have offered free accommodation to the victims.
The district head of Gamfurum, Muhammed Gamfurum, confirmed to journalists that 15 communities in the locality were now under the control of bandits.
The monarch said the bandits had been living and operating freely in the communities.
He said hundreds of people from the communities were in the custody of the kidnappers, while those lucky to have escaped from the areas took refuge in Garba-Chede, the administrative headquarters of the chiefdom.
He said he narrowly escaped with his wives and children.
“They attempted to abduct me and members of my family severally, but I escaped, and was compelled to relocate from the area with my family.
He said: “We have no option but to run away from our towns and villages to safe areas because the bandits are in large numbers and armed with AK47 guns.
“The bandits treat abductees as slaves; they chain and force them to carry loads whenever they are moving to another base or location.”
“I am appealing to relevant authorities to, as a matter of urgency, put mechanisms in place to address the situation, as the bandits had in the last week, abducted many, including women and children,” he said.
He disclosed that six victims from the communities regained freedom after paying N7 million ransom.
While confirming the development, the spokesperson for Taraba State Police Command, Abdullahi Usman, said already, the command had come up with a joint patrol to arrest the situation.
He said the joint patrol comprises the military, police, hunters, and vigilantes.
Usman said the team would soon flush out the bandits who have been making life unbearable for the people.
“Last Friday, the Commissioner of Police drafted more men to join that operation. He briefed them at the headquarters before drafting them, and more men will also be sent to beef up the operation,” Usman said.