Sunday, July 08, 2007

Three-Year-Old Tot Kidnapped in Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Last week’s kidnapping of three-year old Margaret Hill in Port Harcourt by a so-called Niger Delta Militant group gives patent lucidity to the extent of decadence and depravity of the criminal organizations prowling the Nigerian Niger Delta enshrouded in the dubious cloak of environmentalism and freedom fighting. The lukewarm and conciliatory approach of the Obasanjo government in past 8 years in handling the Niger Delta crisis has done nothing but to embolden these criminals and spurned several tens, possibly hundreds of criminal gangs who prowl the region maiming, kidnapping, disrupting oil production and extorting ransoms from the oil companies, government and private citizens.

Often, these ransoms are negotiated through intermediary negotiators, who in many cases, are in cahoots with the criminal militant groups and are just a component of the larger organized criminal industry. What exists now is an efficient criminal industry complete with symbiotic relationships between arms dealers, pirates, illegal oil bunkerers, kidnappers, negotiators and criminal politicians. Granted, not all negotiators and politicians are in cahoots with these criminal groups, but it would be difficult to make a case in the contrary for many of them. For example, the impeached former governor of Bayelsa state, Alamieyeseigha was known to have retained the services of MEND and other militant groups while he was governor to keep his political opponents in check in return for several millions of Naira (labeled security vote) paid out to these militant groups.

Indeed, Alamieyeseigha’s impeachment may have been partly responsible for the explosion of militancy in the Niger Delta. With their benefactor incarcerated, and government’s unresponsiveness to their demands for his release, these groups stepped up their activities in pursuit of other avenues for money. Kidnapping, bunkering and piracy came easy particularly as they were left unchecked by the Obasanjo government either by the lack of political foresight, attitudinal apathy to the plight of the Nigerian polity or a confused and convoluted bid to be politically correct.

The Yar’Adua government faces a Herculean job to undo the damage done by his predecessor’s years of inept management of the Niger Delta crisis. One can only imagine the anguish and grief the Hill family must be going through with their toddler daughter’s kidnapping. This is as good as any time for all well-meaning Nigerians to stop being tongue-in-cheek and out rightly condemn the despicable actions of these so-called Niger Delta militants. The Yar’Adua government should do all it can to ensure that the toddler, Margaret is returned to her parents unharmed, and promptly too. And after this is done, not only should the perpetrators be hunted down like the dogs that they are, but all other criminal Niger Delta militant groups should be brought to book for theirs is a criminal cause dubiously enshrouded in the legitimate cloak of environmentalism.

If the Yar’Adua government’s actions in the past couple of weeks are predictors of its future posture then it may well be that Yar’Adua seeks to pursue the “head-in-the-sand” posture of his predecessor, indicated by his release of indicted secessionist Niger Delta militant leader Asari Dokubo. It appears the charges of treason have been dropped against Dokubo, in return, Yar’Adua is paid back with the Margaret Hill kidnapping.


Chxta said...

While I support your suggestion, it would be rather difficult to pursue that course of action to say the least as Pandora's box has truly been opened, and so many now benefit from this criminal enteprise. Kind of like NEPA, so many benefit from the poor power situation.

A catch 22 scenario really...

Veracity said...

Pandora's box indeed it is in the Niger Delta. But I don't quite see it as a catch 22 situation. What needs to be done is to apply a zero tolerance to all the banditry and mayhem. The Nigerian military should be seriously kitted and engaged in this situation. It is no coincidence that this type of militancy was not as common under the military regime of Abacha. Abacha was the worst dictator Nigeria ever had, but he knew when and how to crack the whip, as he did to Saro Wiwa's MOSOP after the grievous murder of the "Ogoni Four" by the Saro Wiwa led faction.

The only way the Nigerian government can be taken seriously is if it matches it's threat with some might, to give it some credibility and show these criminal groups in the Niger Delta that it is in control and means business. Government's prime responsibility is to ensure security for its citizenry and uphold law and order. It fails at these if it condones criminal groups of the sort in the Niger Delta for political correctness.