Despite a bill prescribing death sentence and life imprisonment for kidnappers in Taraba State, which was recently signed into law by the state governor, Architect Darius Ishaku, as well as several security meetings between the governments of Benue and Taraba States, criminals have continue to ply their evil trade in the state.
Similar meetings were convened by the Federal Government to contain insecurity and protect the state from the activities of hoodlums, especially kidnapping, armed banditry.
Although the Tiv and Jukun killings seem to have waned, the reverse seems to be the case in the area of kidnappers as criminal have continued to smile to the bank on daily basis with their ransom taking.
Of recent, it was discovered that the hoodlums, who have not only penetrated the state capital Jalingo, have also not also spared persons living in the rural communities of the state.
The villagers are said to be in a hurry to pay ransoms to get victims out of the kidnappers den unhurt instead of involving the law enforcement agencies.
It was gathered that ever since the members of Taraba State House of Assembly, passed the bill, which was immediately signed into law by the governor, it has not taken a toll on any of the arrested suspects.
Perhaps it was based on the inability of the law to bite that the evil trade has continued to thrive on a massive scale. It should be noted that the said bill, which was earlier welcomed by the people, has started losing its appeal, especially given that nothing positive has came out of it.
Parts of the bill which gladdened the hearts of the people in the hope that their nightmare would be a thing of the past stipulated: “Any person, who threatens to kill, maim, injure or cause panic in order to compel another person, corporate or government organisation to do or refrain from doing any act, committed an offence and is liable on conviction to 20 years in prison without an option of fine.”
Further, it stated: “Any person, who threaten to kidnap another person by means of phone calls, text messages or any electronic device shall be convicted to 20 years imprisonment without an option of fine.
“Any person who conceals any information or has knowledge as to the existence of a kidnap group or is aware of the planning and execution of a kidnap or abduction without informing relevant security agencies commits an offence and shall be convicted to 20 years imprisonment without an option of fine.”
But, as if all these were not enough to force the kidnappers to drop their evil occupation and take to alternative means of livelihood, the state governor, went extra miles to donate no fewer than 26 operational motorbikes to troops of the Nigeria Army.
The governor said the gesture was to assist them in accessing rugged terrains and be able to flush out the faceless persons perpetrating heinous crimes in the state.
While stressing that the safety of lives and properties of Tarabans remain of paramount concern to him, Governor Ishaku said the launch of Operation Ayem Akpatuma 2 (Cat Race) would not doubt address all security challenges in most parts of the state.
But with the recent attacks in the state have prompted citizens to think that the governor’s dream seems to turning around as a mirage. The development has no doubt put most people in a fix.
Stakeholders that spoke to The Guardian expressed the belief that the daily activities of the kidnappers have defied the speculations that they were related to political confrontations.
Although the activities for the kidnappers are not targeted to any political party, religion or ethic group, the fact that they extend their tentacles to all corners of the state, gives the impression that the crimes are orchestrated to frustrate the governor from actualizing his electioneering promises to the people.
Some of the victims of abduction, who pleaded anonymity, said they are still afraid of being kidnapped again, alleging, “some prominent persons must be feeding fat form the nefarious business.”
Said one of the victims: “The conversations the kidnappers made with some persons when I was in their den indicated that some big people are behind them.
“I heard them discussing with some prominent persons, whose voice I could not identify. It is like the government is doing anything positive to track down the hoodlums.
“If the government and security operatives are actually ready to put an end to all these mess, what stops them from collaborating with the various communication companies to track the kidnappers through their phone numbers?”
Also, piqued by the spate of kidnappings, which he said has made a lot of “our sons and daughters to cease from coming home,” the national President of Jukun Development Association of Nigeria, Benjamin Bako, called on the government to collaborate with security agencies in the state, saying that that would assist in exposing the hoodlums.
Bako expressed dismay that a lot of victims of abductions have been forced to pay ransom, but are still held hostage despite the payment, adding that there was need for President Muhammadu Buhari to wade in by drafting enough security personnel to the state.
“This,” he stated, “would help in addressing the current security challenges confronting the state. But all hands must be on deck.”
However, members of the state House of Assembly, who did not stop at the passage of the bill, recently took further steps by joining forces with the service chiefs to confer with the governor.
They prayed the governor to as a matter of urgency, procure trackers and other security apparatuses that would assist security operatives to tackle the menace with expertise.
Perhaps recognizing that they have become prime targets of kidnappers, the lawmakers, urged the governor to consider lighting up the streets, especially against the background that one of them was not only kidnapped, but also brutally murdered.
The regretted that the streets of Jalingo are always enveloped in thick darkness, saying that that situation gives impetus to the kidnappers to escape with their victims.
After a closed door meeting, which lasted for several hours, the security chiefs and the state lawmakers collectively agreed as follows: “Despite the fact that Taraba State is the most peaceful state in the Northeast sub-region, the rate of kidnapping in the state calls for more effective surveillance by the security organizations to completely reduce the menace.
“The meeting particularly emphasized the need for the state to procure a tracker and other necessary machineries and equipment needed to combat criminality.”
The communiqué released after the meeting also condemned the way and manner kidnappers have continued to have field day, noting that the security outfits are in need of modern facilities and logistics to enable them patrol the entire state to check security breaches.
In the interim, the security chiefs and lawmakers urged the state government to immediately install street lights within Jalingo and other major towns so as to prevent criminals from taking advantage of the pervasive darkness to execute their ugly mandates.
Earlier, the Senor Special Assistant to the governor on Media and Publicity, Bala Dan Abu, said the governor is not resting on his oars, stressing that as the chief security officer of the state, Governor Ishaku has invested “heavily and still investing in security.”
“He is doing all this because he believes that without security, nothing meaningful can be achieved,” Abu said.
Also wondering why some people have continued to point accusing fingers at security operatives for perceived inefficiency, the Police spokesman, Dave Misal, said the command has been working round the clock to apprehend those behind the hideous acts and bring them to book.
He cited several instances of rescue of victims from kidnappers den, assuring that the command would leave no stone unturned in its determination to bring all the perpetrators, their sponsors and collaborators to book.