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Kidnapping: The flourishing crime taking over from yahoo yahoo

Kidnapping: The flourishing crime taking over from yahoo yahoo
January 26
22:42 2022

I was chatting with a friend of mine on Saturday, who was telling me about an incident that happened in Ijebu Ode in Ogun state. He said some group of gun-wielding men stormed his area and kidnapped one person, shooting sporadically. Where the victim was taken to and what happened next, he could not tell.

He said that was not only the scary incident in Ijebu Ode. Cultists are also involved in a free for all with guns and other dangerous arms against rival groups, and in one of their recent fights, a father and his son were hit by a stray bullet.

According to him, when you walk the street in Ijebu Ode, talks of kidnapping have been the major topic on the lips of residents as they now live in fear both day and night.

I was befuddled and told him that ‘but we don’t read any of these in the news’. He was not surprised that some of the stories has not been in the news. He went ahead to tell me of a man who shared his personal experience in a kidnappers’ den.

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The man was kidnapped in Ogun state, taken to the bush and as usual, a ransom was demanded for his release. After many days of pleas and negotiations, he was released after N300,000 was paid. Yes, you read that correctly, N300,000 was the amount collected for his release by his abductors.

Another baffling thing is that the ransom was collected at a place beside a police post. In fact, when they were describing the location to bring the ransom to, the kidnappers used the police checkpoint as a landmark for the family of the victim. The man added that he is convinced that some police officers are either part of the kidnappers or business partners of the booming trade.

Continuing his narration, the man said some traditional rulers in these villages and residents in the area are also accomplices because the hideout was not far from a village in Ogun state. As a matter of fact, these kidnappers go to the nearby village to charge their phones batteries, rechargeable torchlight, and other gadgets.

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He also witnessed how his abductors collected N100,000 as a ransom for one of their male victims, while some women were raped and a few other victims could not make it out alive. He concluded by saying kidnappers have now turned our villages and farms into criminal hideouts where they keep their victims and weapons.

Whether we like it or not, kidnapping is now the new yahoo yahoo and it is fast flourishing. You may be talking to someone innocently and ignorantly without even knowing that person is either a kidnapper or an informant working with some kidnappers. They are closer than we think.

Just like the case of yahoo yahoo, the internet fraud that has now blown up into what I call blood money ritual among youths as young as those under 20. It started many years ago when youths who are idle tried to get their hands on something that will generate money. Its growth was gradual but consistent until it became a monster that cannot be tamed.

In the last three months, there have been stories of young girls and boys, about 10 in total, being brutally killed for money ritual purposes known as yahoo plus. I remember it started with just yahoo, then grew to yahoo yahoo, now it is called yahoo plus. I have also seen videos in the public domain of people who dug graves in their houses where they did or intended to kill and bury their victims for money rituals.

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This desperation for quick wealth by youths of today, coupled with the government’s failure to get them engaged in a meaningful enterprise has damaged the society where we live. Just like the yahoo yahoo started with just internet fraud and metamorphosed into killing for big money, people now kidnap, not for the purpose of collecting ransom and releasing their victims, but to kill them for rituals.

Some are even involved in the trade of organ trafficking where they kidnap unsuspecting men and women, kill them, and remove their organs to sell and make quick money.

Little children are not being spared anymore. Recently, Hanifa Abubakar, a five-year-old girl was killed and buried in a shallow grave by her abductor in Kano. The devilish act was carried out by her own school proprietor at Nobel Kids School at Kwanar Dakata in the Nasarawa local government area of Kano state, Abdulmalik Tanko. Who would have thought that such a thing could happen?

The crime is not only committed by herdsmen or Fulani anymore. Today, many kidnapping groups and gangs have sprung up in various parts of the country. The number is increasing because the business is lucrative with little or no fear of getting caught because of the successes of past kidnapping groups and protection from those in top positions. Many people are keeping quiet, others are making so much money from it until this evil, just like the Boko Haram burden that appears to have come to stay, becomes an indomitable colossus.

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From kidnapping on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway and Abuja-Kaduna highway, this crime has now moved from the road into the neighbourhood. Are we going to continue paying for ransom after many sleepless nights and borrowings or are we going to urgently and deliberately handle this madness before it outgrows us?

Parents must instill good morals into their children and teach them that getting rich takes time, and must be built over time. These youth should learn that they must get educated and begin a career path with patience and contentment. The government must also play its part by creating job opportunities for citizens in order to disabuse their minds from crime.

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Society must not encourage evil; any suspecting move by a family member, friends, or neighbours must be exposed. The Nigeria police and other security outfits must go into those bushes and villages and fish out kidnappers from their hiding place. Makeshift shelters have been built in these bushes where they keep their victims until a ransom is paid. When caught, kidnappers must be made to face the full wrath of the law.

We all must join hands to ensure this new yahoo yahoo menace does not eat into the foundation of our safety. We must not put all our attention on politics and the next president of Nigeria while neglecting our safety and a crime that is gradually taking over our society.

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Ojoko is a Nigerian journalist and can be reached via [email protected]

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