There is hardly any week that passes without a prominent person, including students being kidnapped. In this interview, former Commissioner of Police, Federal Capital Territory, (FCT) Abuja, Compol Lawrence Alobi castigated telephone service providers for not doing enough to detect criminals who register multiple SIM cards. He spoke with Okosun Dennis, excerpts
Chukwudi Dumeme Onuamadike aka Evans, the most notorious and richest kidnapper, was arrested a couple of weeks ago by the Nigerian police. Is it right to pay ransom to kidnappers?
Families and relatives of kidnapped victims give ransom because they nurse the apprehension that the life of the victim might not be safe. Unfortunately, kidnapping is growing by the day as a result of what they are benefiting in ransom. They kidnap because they know that people don’t have money in their houses and when they kidnap the person, the victim is at their mercy and relatives would run helter-skelter to gather money to pay them in order to regain freedom. I don’t encourage the payment of ransom at all. It is like legalising illegality. People should be conscious; always be at alert and work with the security agencies where they live.
Some people are of the view that when victims are in kidnapper’s custody and their families refuse to pay ransom, the fear is that they might be killed. Therefore, if the family members refused to pay ransom, don’t you think kidnapping will also be discouraged because it is no longer profitable?
Actually, like I said, when kidnappers demand money, because they know the victim is at their mercy, they might do something stupid. However, when security is beefed up and there are CCTV cameras everywhere and the communication providers assist in tracking the criminals in addition to having tracking systems in all the police division, at the slightest movement, kidnappers can be tracked down and apprehended. That would reinforce the security agencies as well. I advised that there should be joint efforts – DSS, Police and military – with such collaborative efforts, a lot will be achieved in the war against kidnappers. When the complainants know that the security is very formidable, they will also have trust in the abilities of the security agencies to deal with any monstrous attacks from kidnappers. Ransom is actually a motivating factor and they know they will make more money in kidnapping hence they want to continue in doing it.
Some security analysts are of the view that Evans couldn’t have operated over seven years without some police personnel getting to know of his existence and perhaps given some vital information to him. What is your take on that?
For me, I wouldn’t subscribe to that. People’s assumption might be based on the imagination of whoever that is saying that. No policeman that is worth his onions and has taking the oath of office would want to connive with criminals. They are paid to prevent, detect and arrest criminals but when you now begin to involve in crime; conniving with criminals, then, you are not ready to be a police officer. That is against the oath of office. However, police are not spirit. Therefore, the citizens should assist the security agencies with useful and prompt information. The constitution provides that the citizens should assist the security agencies in maintaining law and order; they should give information that will help in crime control and crime management and that will go a long way in nipping crime in the society.
In terms of punitive measure, do we really have laws in place that can actually deter criminals?
Actually, for instance, there are some states that have passed bills or acts that prescribes death sentence for kidnapping like Lagos. Yet, people still kidnap. Sometimes, it is attitude. What we need to do is that our moral and spiritual values should be rejigged that have been abandoned. The government and National Orientation Agency (NOA) should carry out social security education to reinvent our social and moral character. Life has a purpose and the purpose of life is to serve God and humanity not committing crime. Some people say unemployment causes crime, to some extent, I agree. However, you may be poor but doesn’t have the culture of stealing; you will not steal even when you are hungry. So, it is attitude. We have been overwhelmed by materialism and we celebrate people because they have money but nobody cares to ask how he/she made money? We should celebrate people with moral character not because of their wealth and power. People become wealthy and powerful through crooked, unpalatable and ungodly means. Therefore, we need to reinvent our moral and social character. Let us live by the pressure of God’s will. He says thou shall not kill, thou shall not steal; if as Christians and Muslims or whatever religion you belong; we keep to the doctrine, people will not be involved in all these kinds of crimes including kidnapping to make undesired money. Sometimes, we go contrary. Let us practice our religion in line with our attitude.
Lastly, Evans confessed to using about 126 SIM cards to evade police arrest. How could telecommunication subscribers sell to one person such numbers of SIM cards without detecting it or are they not taking SIM card registration seriously?
These network providers should also be conscious of security and should add value to the security of this country? They should not only be concerned about profit maximisation. They should include, as part of their corporate social responsibilities, enhancing the security of this country.
Don’t you also think that they are compromising?
Before someone registers a SIM card, they should ask him/her questions: What happened to his/her previous SIM card; what time did he register and so forth. Such interrogation will help to check criminals changing from one SIM card to another in order to commit crime. There should be some control measures that can detect what happened to the previous SIM cards and get all the data he wants to erase. I don’t think they are doing enough in this regards. They should step up their duties in that aspec