From cattle rustling to kidnapping

To begin with, the government must be reminded that its primary responsibility is the protection of lives and property of its citizens. Kidnapping in our society is now very alarming. It has frustrated many businesses. It has frightened many of our farmers away from their “farms” at a time our government wants us to go back to farm. Cattle rustling has been identified by some observers as one of the major reasons for the incessant kidnappings in Northern Nigeria. Its menace has hit thousands of our local herders beyond our imagination.

There is a hypothesis, which believes some herdsmen joined kidnapping because they lost their only means of livelihood without justice or “compensation” whatsoever. In developed world, apart from compensation by insurance companies, those who suffer business losses are usually compensated in order to protect jobs. Bailouts are often given to private businesses to enable them stay afloat even in US as the champion of capitalism. However, this does not in anyway justify kidnappings by any group. Kidnapping is not an “ethnic” or “religious” thing. It is much more than that! A lot of suspects arrested previously showed that they were (and or still are) people from different ethnic as well as religious groups. There is a hypothesis, which believes that some Niger Delta militants, Boko Haram insurgents, Ansaru militants and the highways armed robbers have since joined kidnappings for ransom due to its lucrative nature.

There is another hypothesis, which believes that those who started the modern cattle-rustling were highway armed robbers that switched to it due to technological advancement, which virtually phased- out traveling with “cash” on our highways. Cattle-rustling has been long enough with us, but In the past it was mostly perpetrated through the connivance of our local butchers. Its escalation in the North began sometimes in 2004 in our big farms owned by both retired generals and public servants. Having rustled virtually all the cattle at the said farms and or at last discouraged the powerfuls from its establishments, the rustlers resort to rustling the cattle of our local herders. We often treat life threatening issues with kid gloves. Our general attitude of “playing the ostrich” to sensitive issues has largely fueled Kidnappings for ransom. We turned a “blind eye” and “deaf ear” on the issue of cattle -rustling from the outset. And now here we are!

However, one must quickly add that, cattle -rustling is not the only factor responsible for kidnappings in our society. The issues of unemployment, poverty and illiteracy have also contributed a lot to it. As a people and country we have not done quite well in the areas of poverty, unemployment and illiteracy reductions among our people. There are so many allegations out there as to why kidnapping lingers. There is the allegation of “complicity” by some personnel of our security agencies because of financial benefits. There is the allegation of the involvement of some politicians for political gains. There is the allegation of the involvement of some traditional rulers because of its financial benefits.

There is the allegation of the involvement of “informants” among us due to our “lust” for money. Most of us do not care anymore about ill-gotten wealth. The above said allegations must be properly investigated for us to get it right. Small and light weapons are too many in our midst. We must frustrate its supply to non -state actors. The NDLEA must be strengthened to do more on drugs abuse, which is the energiser to all sorts of crimes. It is high time we deployed technology driven approach to security challenges. May God bless Nigeria!

Nurudeen Dauda,

Kaduna [email protected]

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