As Nigerians continue to grapple with a high level of insecurity, Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, on Friday, opposed alleged payment of ransom by the government to bandits and kidnappers to free victims.
Speaking with Vanguard, CSOs expressed disappointment, dissatisfaction, and condemned negotiation and payment of alleged ransom by the government to these elements under any guise.
Some of them expressed worry over the implication of this alleged payment of ransom for national security that could lead to anarchy as these groups use proceeds gotten to purchase weapons and continue to unleash terror on innocent citizens.
Ransom payment makes banditry lucrative, attractive industry — CN
The Convener, Concerned Nigerians, Comrade Deju Adeyanju said, “Government is not doing anything really about the abductions and Government has become an enabler of all these things going on in the country because government negotiates with bandits, the government pays them ransom that has been alleged by several people.
“So you cannot, therefore, say that normal and law-abiding citizens will now be seeing the banditry industry as an attractive industry that they should also explore. I don’t think the government is doing anything to curb it.
“The implication of the current insecurity condition in the country is that it will distract investors from coming into the country, it will affect food production it will lead to inflation and there’s a looming food crisis that we may soon be battling with in the country.
“On the issue of the new service chiefs, I don’t think they are bringing anything new to the table, they were part of the former regime of the former service chiefs. And all that we have witnessed so far I have not seen any new ideas from them.
“Lastly, whether there are solutions? The problem is from the top and this general belief that when the head is bad, the whole body is rotten, so basically the president has not gotten it right and I don’t think he will get it right because the body language of his government supports banditry, abductions, terrorism and this why we have a situation where Boko Haram members are been pardoned but protesters and critics of the government are been handed left right and center, so it’s just unfortunate.
National security is compromised by negotiation and ransom payment — GEJ Initiative
The National Coordinator, Grassroots Empowerment and Justice, GEJ, Initiative, said, “I am afraid national security has since been compromised, and all of these things happening almost every day across the country shows that our national security is in shambles, and the same people in authority are the ones profiting from it.
“It is most unfortunate, to hear that the government is paying ransoms to rescue students. This has confirmed the whispers that some of this so-called kidnapping of students are being done with the backing of the government through their secret agents. And the alarming rate at which there happen unchecked leaves one in no doubt that the hand of government is in it.
“This clearly shows also that security in the north has been highly compromised to enrich those profiting from this evil the more. It is condemnable, unacceptable and it is time the government put a stop to it. There should stop giving ransoms and end the insecurity. They should stop what there created.
“We thought with the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari, the issue of insecurity would have been a forgotten issue, since this is one of the key issues his administration has outlined to tackle head-on. But now we have been proven wrong. Both governments at the federal and state levels have lost control despite the billions being allocated as budgetary provisions.
“It is time government stop playing hide and seek and come out clean and end this unfortunate development in our national life. Nigeria was safer than what it is today.
“Information gathering and all the rest that would stabilize and strengthen national security are collapsing by the day. It is the responsibility of the government to end it now.
“The new service chiefs are part of the rot. It is now their time to also come and chop from the national cake. Even if some of them are ready to work, the already compromised system won’t let them.
“No wonder just after the President announced that the kidnapping of students in Zamfara or so would be the last, the kidnappers and bandits went on rampage in Kaduna, Niger, taking hostages and killings.
“Their hands are all stained with the revenues from the insecurity challenges, which are all man-made.
“So it is still the same old bitter stories, bitter tales, and deliberate wrong moves. New wine in old bottles, so they are all beginning on a wrong footing like a curse is placed on the system from somewhere.
“The only option and best steps to be taken is for government and the service chiefs to be patriotic and come out bold and hard on the insurgents, bandits, and kidnappers. What they doing anywhere in or near Nigeria’s territorial forests.
“The government must be sincere and come all out to destroy such elements without mercy with the view to ending it once and for all. No to ransom!”
Ransom payment encourages more kidnapping and banditry — OLF
The Founder, One Love Foundation, Chief Patrick Eholor, said, “It is sad and shameful that both the federal and state governments had always denied paying the ransom, and yet they often do so.
“Remember, schoolboys and bandits involved in the Kankara abduction contradicted official denials that ransom was paid. Reports in some quarters suggest the Katsina State government paid N30 million to recover the schoolboys. Hence, the expectation should be that unless the Kagara victims are quickly recovered, which is unlikely, either the state or federal government will pay ransom to secure the release of those who have survived.
“It is totally wrong for the government at any level including individuals to pay ransom to criminals.
“Payment of ransom will only encourage the crime of kidnappings and banditry in the country and across the Sahel which is becoming an extraordinarily lucrative enterprise.
“Countries like the United States and Italy as a matter of policy never pay ransom. The U.S. government had previously threatened to prosecute private individuals who seek to do so.
“The security chiefs met a highly bastardized and politicized architecture. They need to be given time to settle properly to restructuring and reviving the security sector thereby restoring the lost glory of the security sector.
“Finally, there can’t be security without properly funding the military and the police. It is all about funding and the welfare of the officers.
“We have heard of cases of misappropriation of funds meant for the purchase of weapons to secure the nation. No nation can be properly secured in a very corrupt environment.
“Therefore, we must fund the military and the police. Increase the salaries of our officers with better insurance and health care, purge corruption out of the system and deal with the issues of religious and tribal sentiments.”
Payment of ransom means reward for criminality — Yiaga Africa
The Programme Manager, Elections, Yiaga Africa, Paul James, said, “Payment of ransom is setting a bad precedent as it means the government is rewarding criminals for their heinous activities.
“As we may all have seen in recent times, payment of ransom either by an individual or by the government has only empowered bandits and terrorists to lead more heinous activities.
“Ransom payment has never been a good strategy as kidnappers will only use these proceeds to procure more arms to continue to attack innocent Nigerians. Thus the country will continue to become unsafe especially for innocent citizens.
“The implication is an indication that the security agencies empowered to secure lives and properties may be indirectly telling Nigerians that they aren’t capable of protecting the citizens they swore to protect. This will breed even more criminals and even overwhelm the security agencies.
“Our Security Chiefs are not here for honeymoon. They have been in the system for decades so it is expected that they should hit the ground running. The incessant kidnapping especially in schools is not a good sign as Nigerians expected so much from the new service chiefs.
“We need start asking the right questions around accountability and budget for Nigerian security architecture. Nigerians must start setting targets for their security agencies and failure to hit such targets should come with consequences.
“Intensify citizens’ intelligence gathering and build a cordial relationship between security and law-abiding citizens. We also need to deploy technological devices to track down terrorists and prosecute accordingly. Nigeria needs to start setting examples by prosecuting bandits and their sponsors to forestall incessant insecurity.”
Ransom payment makes govt ineffective — PMNN
The Founder, Peoples Movement for a New Nigeria, PMNN, Yahaya Ndu, said, “Government has already failed woefully in its primary duty as enshrined in the Constitution which is to protect lives and properties.
“If the government refuses to pay ransom as demanded the innocent students may be injured or killed so Government should pay ransom and secure their freedom
“The implication of this of course is grave as it betrays Government ineffectiveness where it matters most.
“Luckily a serious is by the grace of God coming up next week in Abuja where I hope that ideas on solutions to security challenges of Nigeria will be harnessed.
“To start with it is never the responsibility of the service chiefs to ensure the security of lives and properties within Nigeria. That is the function of the police.
“I am afraid that it is inevitably the time for zonal, state, and local government and community police to come on board and work in harmony with Federal police to secure lives and properties of Nigerians.
“I don’t support the idea of asking the Government not to pay ransom as that is simply to put the lives of the innocent on the line.
“Government should pay ransom but the ransom should be deducted from the salaries of the police, the service chiefs, and all charged constitutionally with the protection of lives and properties.”
Money paid as ransom should be used for weapon purchase — Shehu
The former National President of Miners Association of Nigeria, Sani Shehu, said, “It is unfortunate if the allegation is right because such heinous act will flourish as an industry where evil money bags and the heartless unemployed youths will highly be patronized.
“Kidnapping is a punishable offence anywhere in the world and should be treated as such. Punishing kidnappers will serve as deterrent and can minimise the occurrences of such act in our society
“It weakens the security outfits and makes them less responsible and accountable. The ransom paid to bandits should have been used to acquire weapons and additional intelligence for our security operative, give them training and appropriate technology to deal with the security challenges. They should infiltrate into the bandits and get intelligent information to help Nigerian security succeed.
“The new security chiefs are not Gods; They cannot change the situation automatically. They need to properly study the issues and re strategize to be able to draw a road map that will bring the end of the problem in the nearest future. It is too early to appraise their performance
“The Government should deploy more security to vulnerable schools and communities. The rumours that make the rounds said that some VIPs are involved in the kidnapping and banditry should be investigated. Those found wanting should be brought to book no matter how well placed they are.
“The Government should use technology to identify and tract the flashpoints, and attack them as a preventive measure to stopping the kidnapping and banditry in Nigeria.”