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Kidnappings, terrorism fuel irregular migration –HURIWA

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•Tasks Buhari to stem insecurity 

Jude Johnson 

 The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has tasked President Muhammadu Buhari and the hierarchy of the National Assembly to put practical measures in place to effectively combat, what it described as hydra-headed monsters of kidnappings for ransom (KFR) and terrorism.

In a statement on Tuesday, the rights group also charged the Houses of Assemblies of the 36 states to brace up to the challenge of the 21st century dynamics of sophisticated and organised crimes of kidnappings for ransom and terrorism which require both sophisticated technology and legal mechanisms to stamp out with a view to creating political stability and security of lives of the citizens which remains the irreducible minimum duty of government under the constitution.

According to HURIWA, the twin evils of kidnappings for ransom (KFR) and Islamic terrorism which have assumed larger-than-life dimensions across the country are directly responsible for the extraordinarily high rate of irregular migrations by young Nigerians and the concomitant deaths on the Mediterranean Sea.

“The high mortality rate in the Mediterranean sea of youngsters from Nigeria constitutes both global opprobrium and deny Nigeria of the scare human talents to turn around the global mess that contemporary Nigeria has become”.

The pro-democracy group made the observations against the backdrops of the recent spike in armed kidnappings for ransom including the killing of a British missionary in the Niger Delta and also the reported deaths of 26 Nigerian women in the Mediterranean Sea which case is currently a subject of a legal inquisition by the Italian government.

But the Rights group said the central government  alongside the 36 state governments and the National Assembly have prevaricated on the urgent need to enforce law – based mechanisms for combating two of the greatest social afflictions of contemporary times which are kidnapping for ransom by well-armed hoodlums and the resurgence of Islamic terrorism threatening the peace and stability of North East of Nigeria – a geographical area that is wider than France.

HURIWA believes that the involvement of hundreds -of- thousands of disaffected youngsters who are fleeing Nigeria could be checked if effective steps are adopted by all relevant agencies of government at both the national and sub-national levels to put to good use effective mechanisms to stamp out the two evils of terrorism and kidnappings. 

The Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) dismissed the straight-jacketed perception that irregular migrations are fueled by the collapsing national economy as intellectually lazy and challenged governmental think-tanks to come up with fresh ideas on how to encourage and motivate Nigerian youngsters to pursue their aspirations within the framework of regular and legal migration if they must export their special talents to generate the much needed foreign denominated currencies or stay back in a liberated and crime reduced Nigeria to realise those dreams without embarking on social and organised crimes. 

“The National Assembly alongside the states’ Assemblies of the 36 states including the Federal Capital Territory should meet as soon as possible to implement quick-fix measures to amend relevant statutory provisions including the ambiguous anti-terrorism Act to include punitive provisions such as capital punishment for the offences of terrorism and kidnappings for ransom which are one and the same and which have constituted grave threats to national security of Nigeria and creating room for mass exodus of young Nigerians who are not confident in the capacity of existing law enforcement mechanisms to efficiently tackle and combat these social afflictions.” 

The Rights group said police reforms are urgent and critical to have a national policing institutions with the required capacities and resources to combat these sophisticated crime driving up the rates of irregular but dangerous migrations. “Too much of lips’ service is paid to these two most dangerous factors causing a large number of irregular but dangerous migrations”. 

The Rights group blamed the Federal administration and the states mostly in the North East of Nigeria for doing practically nothing to quickly bring suspected terrorists to decisive trials and conviction but instead have chosen the politically suicidal measures of progressive releases of these hardened members of the Boko Haram terror network in the guise of rehabilitating and reintegrating them.

Also, on the rising cases of kidnappings, HURIWA said the central government must demonstrate good enough political will to galvanize the justice sector agencies of the 36 states so as to come up with uniform but effective judicial sanctions and to create fastrack justice administration system and the rebuilding of the prison system to effectively embark on widespread vigorous pursuits of armed kidnappers and terrorists.

HURIWA regretted that hundreds -of- young Nigerians fleeing from insecurity and instability in many parts of Nigeria have chosen the devil’s alternative of irregular but dangerous migration through Libya and lamentably, many of such young vulnerable Nigerians have fallen into the hands of human trafficking gangs in Libya who would end up wasting the lives of these Nigerians on the High seas.

“The lucky few who have been flown back to Lagos from captivity in Libya courtesy of the efforts of the United Nations office on international Migrations do often find their ways back to Libya to keep trying their lucks hoping to sail successfully into Europe through the roughs and tumbles of Mediterranean sea”.

“Let the presidency set up a department to fashion out implementable policies to economically empower young but desperate Nigerians so they are not exposed to the vulnerability and tempting deceptions churned out by internationally sophisticated human trafficking gangs.”

“Sadly, the Foreign Affairs ministry is too preoccupied with banal politics rather than realistically embark on time-tested and trusted strategic engagements with young Nigerians to try to dissuade many of them from adopting irregular and dangerous migration. The anti-irregular migration advocacy campaigns are not being waged by the relevant Foreign Affairs ministers but they are deeply involved in local politics of 2019 polls.” 

The Rights group said the Federal Ministry of Foreign affairs must partner credible civil society groups to drive the process of waging effective advocacy media campaigns to check the rising ugly trends of irregular but dangerous migrations in Nigeria.

HURIWA recalled that three weeks after being kidnapped by Niger Delta militants in Delta State, a British national, identified as Lan Squire, died in captivity.

However, three other Britons, who were taken along with the dead one, were freed and returned to Britain, the British High Commission confirmed in a mail to newsmen.

HURIWA recalled that records showed that Lan Squire was one of four Britons forcefully taken at about 2 am on October 13, prompting the Nigerian Government and the British High Commission to launch a spirited bid to free them.

Conversely, HURIWA recalled that Italian prosecutors are investigating the deaths of 26 Nigerian women – most of them teenagers – whose bodies were recovered at sea.

HURIWA which cited a report by BBC, disclosed that there are suspicions that they may have been sexually abused and murdered as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean.

Five migrants are being questioned in the southern port of Salerno, Italy.

The Rights group has therefore charged the presidency and the National Assembly to urgently organize national summits on the twin evils of terrorism and kidnappings for ransom with a view to resolving them and to implement enforceable measures to check the trends quickly and decisively.

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