Tinubu Federal Government Declares Ransom Payment To Bandits Illegal – Warns Against Crowd-funding

Minister of Defence Mohammed Badaru Abubakar has expressed concern over persistent payment of ransom by Nigerians, particularly the increasing cases of crowd funding on social media platforms, saying such action fuels kidnappings in the country. The minister said this while fielding questions from State House correspondents at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

He said raising huge money to free abductees in the hands of kidnappers is not only against the law but counterproductive. “In FCT, these kidnappings happen around the suburbs, and around locations that are bordering Kaduna and Niger states. And this is as a result of the current operations going on in the northwest and some parts of North-central.

“The bandits are fleeing and they are getting shelters around these areas and the security agencies are working very hard to push them out, block their movements and finish this thing once and for all. The president has given us the marching order and all the support that we need and what the security agencies need to end this thing.

“On crowd-funding, we all know there’s an existing law against payment of ransom. So, it is very sad for people to go over the internet, radio asking for donations to pay ransom. This will only worsen the situation; it will not help the situation at all as you have seen.

“Initially, they asked for N60 million and now because of this funding and I learnt somebody has raised N50 million already through friends and media, they jacked up the ransom. We believe we have to stop it, as painful as it is. We have to stop responding to payment of ransom. If we stop, over time, the kidnapping will not be profitable and they will stop.

“It is not easy though but that is the law. So we want to call on the people to manage the kidnapping situation intelligently and very quietly, because talking too much about it, most especially raising funds through the public media is not productive at all and should be discontinued,” Badaru said.

The statement by the minister followed a series of tragic kidnappings on the outskirts of Abuja.

In one of the scenarios, the captors, who initially seized ten individuals from Sagwari Layout, Dutse, Abuja  January 7, 2024, escalated their ransom demands from N60 million to N100 million for each of the seven remaining hostages, in response to public efforts to raise funds through social media.

Tragically, three hostages have lost their lives, attributed to delays in ransom payments by their families.

The situation gained further complexity when former Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, endorsed the crowd funding approach after an anonymous associate contributed N50 million towards the ransom.

This development has sparked heightened concern on social media platforms, as many worry that resorting to public fundraising for ransom payments might encourage similar incidents in the future.

And to stem the tide of the ugly trend, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Kayode Egbetokun has inaugurated a Special p Squad (SIS) in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to address the increasing rate of crime in the territory.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony Wednesday in Abuja, Egbetokun said the squad was made up of trained, well-equipped and highly mobile police officers.

The police boss said the alarming rise in criminal activities, without equivocation, demanded immediate and resolute action from all.

He said; “This initiative is not just born out of necessity, but out of foresight, diligent planning and commitment to enhancing the already robust security architecture of the FCT. The FCT remains a bastion of safety and an example of efficient urban security management and in our pursuit of excellence; we must proactively address even the slightest signs of potential threats. We are thus duty-bound to confront all challenges head-on to protect the lives and welfare of our citizens.”

Egbetokun further said the squad was envisioned to include a thousand personnel in each state, comprising officers and men from each tactical unit of the force. The squad, he said, would be complimented by a formidable arsenal of operational assets, including sophisticated arms, drones, and vehicles.

Egbetokun said: “These assets, some of which are displayed here, are ready for deployment to counteract the security threats. This deployment symbolises our unwavering commitment to the safety and security of our people, sending a clear message that criminal elements will find no sanctuary within the FCT, and by extension, Nigeria.

“I wish to reiterate here that this operation is more than a mere response; it is a bold strategy aimed at dismantling the criminal networks entrenched in our communities.”

He said the squad would also engage in community-oriented policing, a testament to the Nigeria Police philosophy that public safety is a collaborative endeavour.

Egbetokun said working hand-in-hand with community leaders, residents and all stakeholders, would fortify the already strong bonds between the Police Force and the communities. He said the idea was to ensure that every corner of the FCT remained a haven for its inhabitants.

In a related development, the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore Fulani Socio-cultural Association has inaugurated a 1,144 nomad volunteer vigilante team to fight banditry, cattle rustling and all forms of insecurity in the state.

Speaking at the inauguration Wednesday in Lafia, national president of the association, Abdullahi Bodejo, said the volunteer vigilante members carefully selected, screened and profiled, would operate within the ambit of the existing laws of the country.

He said the primary objectives of the Nomad Vigilante Group was to  encourage peace in rural communities, help secure the livelihoods of farmers and herders,  aid in information gathering and intelligence to the Nigerian security agencies of criminals and criminalities within the local communities amongst others.

“To all Nomad Vigilantes, this is a clarion call to unity in purpose. Let us forge alliances with relevant security agencies to fish out criminal elements among communities and reduce the allegation on those who are treated unjustly for crimes not committed as a result of the bad eggs. Together, we shall foster dialogue, build bridges within our communities, and usher in an era of lasting peace and harmony,” Bodejo said.

He urged the volunteer vigilantes to collaborate with the Nigerian Army, the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies while carrying out their activities across the 13 local government areas of the state. Bodejo expanded that the narrative in the country that all Fulani herdsmen were criminally minded was not true.

He, however, urged his kinsmen to always live in peace and harmony among other Nigerians to avoid been arrested by the security agencies.  The Fulani leader added that any of them who willingly troubles other citizens of the country and gets arrested by the security agencies, will not be rescued by the association.

Austine Ikeru
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