Ibadan blast, widespread kidnapping show no part of Nigeria is secure under Tinubu

THE blast that rocked the Bodija area of Ibadan, the Oyo state capital, on Tuesday, and a series of kidnap incidents across Nigeria have shown that no part of the nation is secure under the Bola Tinubu administration.

A bomb blast occurred at Dejo Oyelese Street in Ibadan on January 16 2023, killing some residents and injuring dozens of people.

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Police Public Relations Officer in Oyo State, SP Adewale Osifeso, released a statement immediately after the blast, saying that the immediate cause of the Ibadan blast was unknown.

Facility destroyed by the blast Source: Reuters

Hours later, Oyo State Governor, Mr Seyi Makinde, confirmed on his X (formerly Twitter) handle that two persons had been dead and 77 residents, injured.

“Earth moving equipment, ambulances, emergency lights, and security were deployed to the scene of the incident. The wounded and injured are being treated and moved to public and private hospitals within Ibadan,” he said.

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He further isclosed that “preliminary investigations by the security agencies” had revealed that illegal miners occupying “one of the houses in Bodija had stored explosive devices there which caused the blast.”

He noted that investigations were ongoing, and \all those found culpable for this will be brought to book.”

Widespread kidnapping

Kidnapping has spread to all parts of Nigeria, particularly Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Six sisters were kidnapped in the FCT in early January 2024. One of the six sisters, identified as Nabeeha Al-Kadriyar, was later killed by the terrorists who kidnapped her, throwing the country into mourning.

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The kidnappers had invaded the residence of the family in the Bwari area of Abuja and shot three police officers before kidnapping the sisters and their father. The kidnappers demanded N65 million ($81, 250) and threatened to unleash more mayhem if their demand was not met.

Former Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami, had revealed in a tweet on his X handle on Sunday, January 14,  that his friend, whose name he did not mention, offered to contribute N50 million to their release.

Insecurity weakening in FCT

Data show that insecurity is rising rapidly in the FCT. A June 2023 Nextier report said there had been 40 kidnap cases involving 236 victims in the FCT between January and June 2023.

Its April 2023 report had noted that there were 29 persons involved in one kidnap incident.

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The report had claimed that “there is no week in Abuja without a record of kidnapping or related violence,” stressing that “Kwali Area Council and towns on the outskirts of Abuja were worst hit by the menace.”

Nextier cited a report saying that kidnapped victims in the capital city paid ₦653.7 million between 2021 and 2022.

In late 2023, the father of Vice Chairman of Kwali Area Council of the FCT, Mr Mohammed Yakubu, a pregnant woman and five others were kidnapped by criminals, with one person shot during the incident.

Kidnappers demanded N30 million ransom, according to reports.

Similarly, a staff member of Zenith Bank at Suleja branch was kidnapped in late 2023 at Kubwa, Abuja. Mr Austin Ilom died after paying N11 million ransom, according to reports. There were conflicting reports about the incident, with some claiming that Zenith Bank was not part of the negotiation process since the incident did not happen while he was on duty.

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Zenith Bank’s Team Lead for Media Relations, Mr Ayoola Kusimo, did not respond to Economy Post‘s enquiries as to what really happened to Mr Ilom.

On December 12, 2023, kidnappers killed one person and took away 12 residents, including a 9-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl at Gbaupe, Lugbe, Abuja, Legit reported.

Similarly, kidnappers took away 10 people from Sagwari Estate Layout at Dutse in Bwari Area Council of the FCT on January 7, 2024, killing at least four of the abducted persons.

A resident of Kubwa, who preferred anonymity, blamed security agencies for not being proactive, cautioning the FCT Minister, Mr Nyesom Wike, of the need to put his house together.

“For me, security agencies are failing here, which is the seat of power. On the other hand, the minister, Mr Wike, is also not doing much to curb this situation. They should all begin to tackle this urgently to save the capital city.”

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MR Wike, who has shown more interest in Rivers State politics than the FCT, has summoned a security meeting to fashion out strategies to deal with the menace.

Insecurity everywhere

Kidnapping is growing nationwide. According to SBM Intelligence, “between July 2022 and June 2023, 3,620 people were abducted in 582 kidnap-related incidents in Nigeria and at least N5 billion ($6,410,256 as of 30 June 2023) were reported as ransom demands, while verified ransom payouts amounted to N302 million ($387,179), or six percent of what was demanded.”

Within the period, Zamfara reported highest kidnap incidents with 765 cases. It was followed by Kaduna and Niger, which had 690 and 468 cases respectively. Katsina and Sokoto states were next with 241 and 176 cases respectively, trailed by Kogi and Edo with 163 and 130 cases respectively. Other states not represented in the graph above had fewer than 10 cases of kidnapping within the period.

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Currently, no part of Nigeria is safe. Terrorists and bandits are wreaking havoc in the North-East, North-West and North-Central, while unknown gunmen and oil thieves are terrorising the South-East and the South-South regions. Similarly, kidnappers and terrorists are making incursions into the South-West.

“Why can’t we use technology to fight insecurity? We just did NIM-SIM registration yet can’t deploy that to fight kidnappers. This is pathetic,” said a Lagos-based IT expert, Mr Joshua Okpala,

Tinubu’s failing security architecture

President Bola Tinubu has made several comments on insecurity, but none of them has translated into any concrete action.

In his inaugural speech on May 29 2023, Mr Tinubu had promised to prioritise security, saying that “security shall be the top priority of our administration because neither prosperity nor justice can prevail amidst insecurity and violence.”

Mr Tinubu recently said he would use the weapon of education to fight kidnapping and poverty in Africa’s most populous nation, stressing, “there is no weapon against poverty that is as potent as learning,” as reported by Vanguard.

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However, kidnapping, armed robbery and other violent crimes have continued to rise under him, as there hasn’t been any security agenda by the president to quell them.

A security expert, Mr Joshua Ndalegwu, said the Tinubu administration was yet to envision any security strategy to deal with violent crimes.

“Tinubu may have the interest of Nigerians at heart, but he is yet to show us what he has in stock for us in terms of dealing with insecurity. In all honesty, security agencies have deployed kinetic and non-kinetic measures, but none seems to be working now because it is the government that must lead the discussion with policies.

“If Tinubu’s plan is to battle kidnappers and other violent criminals, he should increase the number of personnel via employment, train them and provide them with weapons to fight.”

A social crusader, Ms Bridget Ajoko, said it was important for the government to close northern borders and provide identities for Nigerians.

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“There is a need for the Nigeria Immigration Service to monitor who comes in and goes out. Two, it is time to conclude the process of identifying who a Nigerian is through identity cards.

“Three, we must stop pretending as if thing were working. Let us have state or local police. No matter the fears anyone may have, local security agencies know who comes in and who goes out,” he added.

According to SBM Intelligence, “efforts to combat kidnapping must be comprehensive, addressing the root causes and consequences alike. Strengthening law enforcement, improving socio-economic conditions, and fostering education are essential to eradicating the economic incentives for kidnappers.”

It suggested that international cooperation, intelligence-sharing, and stringent legal frameworks would help in curbing cross-border kidnapping networks, stressing the need for collaboration.

“Governments, organisations, and communities can work collaboratively to develop holistic solutions and effective strategies to prevent and combat this crime by understanding its economic costs.”

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