Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Fighting Kidnapping in Calabar and by extension, Nigeria —By Richard F. Inoyo

26 May 2020

From San Antonio, Texas to Tampa, Florida in America, we knew what the scores were during the Spanish-American War of 1898. Teddy Roosevelt and his regiment of Rough Riders demonstrated a high level of patriotism and left legacy that eventually gave birth to the local vigilantism that ultimately defined 1980 Milton which gave the residents of that very town reason to sleep and their eyes close at night knowing every person looked out for each other and in event when there were crimes tens of hundreds of citizens were willing to testify without duces tecum.

Down here in Calabar and several capital cities in Nigeria, the story is different. The rise of kidnapping and other vices is creating a tremendous concern for all. But that isn't the major problem, from my analysis, the fear of hoodlums coupled with gradual eroding sense of patriotism is making it possible for criminal elements to operate without fear of someday having witnesses testify of sighting them when they carry out their daredevil operations. 

This fear has got so high that even if today an entire community is subpoenaed duces tecum, you are likely going to get witnesses fidgeting at the witness stand.

Regardless what kidnapping case the state public prosecution department may wish to prosecute, even with subpoena capias, you are likely going to see fear of testifying by citizens ruining the entire prosecutorial protocol. And there is a reason for this fear either due to lack of trust for the Nigerian Police Force or outright lack of confidence in the doctrine of the state to protect all testifying citizens.

But then, as a people, it is important we let ourselves know that, the fight against kidnapping should be driven by a sense of patriotism with zero fear and strong willingness to assist police in gathering intelligence at community-level with willingness to testify in situation of arrest and prosecution of suspected kidnappers.

As it stands, a growing body of evidence reveals that most kidnapping occurs in broad daylight with one or two witnesses at the crime scene. 

On the overall, if these witnesses fail to assist in reporting their observations to aid our police men in tracking and arresting the culprits, how then do we as society expect to win the fight against kidnapping?

On a second dimension of thought, if we fail to find the courage to testify in court when suspected kidnappers are arrested and tried in court, how then do we expect kidnappers to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law?

I wish to seize this opportunity to encourage citizens to do their part in sharing information with the police force at community-level when they suspect a crime, and also testifying in cases where they are called upon to perform such in any court of competent jurisdiction; for this is our patriotic responsibility as citizens and a central ideology if we must defeat kidnapping as citizens.

Of equal importance too, I wish to call on the State and Federal government to fully equip the Nigerian Police Force, improve their living conditions in Police Barracks where most buildings look dilapidated, appalling and dehumanizing without basic amenities, while at the same time review the salaries of these men that risk their lives daily to protect community northward to enable them carryout their life-threatening duties with high sense of confidence in whatever superior counter-criminal response assets that will be given to them and the quality of reward and standard of living the nation provides to them as motivation to do more. The time to get this done is now.

Richard F. Inoyo
Country Director, Citizens Solution Network.

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