Why Nigeria must take abductions seriously

(By Adejoh Idoko Momoh)

Close to 54 years after the Federal Republic of Nigeria swore in its constitution to protect its citizens and guarantee them the freedom of movement amongst other fundamental human rights, people like you and me continue to be abducted, arrested and held against our will. In other words, in every one of 54 years we have existed as a sovereign nation, this country has continued to betray its self imposed responsibilities to its citizens

IN the days leading up to Monday, Fatima struggled with sleep; reconciling the need to wake at night to study and the deprivation of a past time she really enjoyed. Ten minutes after she finally found sleep, she was rudely awakened and forcibly loaded onto a truck. It has been almost 120 days now and she is still held outside her will in the camp of dreaded Islamist sect Boko Haram. She has neither seen family nor all that is familiar to her and probably cries herself to sleep every night. This very easily can be the story of any one of the 300 girls that were abducted on the night of April 14 from the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.

   There are many reasons to be angry with a system that has for the most part been a disappointment and failed to deliver on its principal obligation of security for its citizens.   However, you cannot afford to sit on the sidelines; put yourself in the situation of the girls or their parents. Imagine a daughter birthed and nurtured till the age of 18, and then she is carted away and you get no information on her wellbeing or livelihood for about four months? Or imagine yourself going to work or the farm, a lone Land Rover drives by and you are coerced into it, kidnapped for close to 80 days? The thought that this could just have easily been you or a close relative should motivate you enough to speak up. It may be a Fatima from Chibok today or an Elizabeth from Gwoza tomorrow. It may even be your own daughter; she can be kidnapped just as you drop her off in school.

  Abductions should concern us and we should lend our voices to causes that demand that governments everywhere fund and motivate their armed forces adequately to go on rescue missions and bring back people who are abducted in a timely manner and deliver them safely to their parents.

  If you are concerned about geographical locations and you naively think you are too much of an elite to be abducted or you live in towns far away from where these gruesome acts take place, let me share with you the story of a personal friend; herself a veteran Nollywood actress.

    One evening as she returned from seeing her brother at Dreams Garden in Abuja’s Wuse 2 District, she was stopped by thugs from the Abuja Environmental Agency and the Society against Prostitution and Child Labour who accused her of prostitution after hauling her into a bus. She was held against her will for two days: condoms thrown at her, her clothes torn and photos taken to lay credence to their false allegations that she was a sex worker. She has since been released and has sought justice. Sadly, the process is slow or deliberately not yielding any result as people who constitute Nigeria’s ‘high and mighty’ are the same people on whose authority this abduction and illegal arrest was carried out.

   Abductions in Nigeria are thriving because of cases similar to the above. Consider also the recent case of the two sisters who were kidnapped in Abuja’s Karmo district just outside their home. It is speculated that the family had to pay some N10m to secure their release two weeks after they were taken. Who could have imagined? Two girls kidnapped from their home in Abuja metropolis?

   As long as people know they can carry out these dastardly acts and not face the wrath of justice, they will keep performing them. As long as we do not speak out, abductions will continue.

  Close to 54 years after the Federal Republic of Nigeria swore in its constitution to protect its citizens and guarantee them the freedom of movement amongst other fundamental human rights, people like you and me continue to be abducted, arrested and held against our will. In other words, in every one of 54 years we have existed as a sovereign nation, this country has continued to betray its self imposed responsibilities to its citizens.

  Be attentive. Make it a habit to avoid dark walk ways and deserted parking lots. Or in situations similar to the above, get an escort; except in cases of terrorism, it is more difficult to abduct two individuals as opposed to one. Ladies can walk around with small vials of pepper spray in their hand bags; do whatever makes you feel safe.

   Alternatively, you can join movements like the BringBackOurGirls or the Women Rights Advancement and Protection Agency, both engagements that seek to let government know that we have had enough. We all have the right to live in a country that is abduction free. We must demand of our government who is the authority we voted into office to secure our lives and properties. We must make bold and say that we cannot condone these injustices to us, women and children.

• www.adejoh.blogspot.com

The YOUTHSPEAK Column which is published daily, on weekdays, on the back cover of THE GUARDIAN Newspaper, is powered by RISE NETWORKS, Nigeria’s Leading Youth and Education Development Social Enterprise, as a substantial advocacy platform available for ALL Nigerian Youth to engage Leadership at all levels, engage Society and contribute to National Discourse on diverse issues especially those that are peculiar to Nigeria.

Regarding submission of articles, we welcome writers’ contributions by way of well crafted, analytical and thought provoking opinion editorials that are concise, topical and non-defamatory! All Articles [which are not expected to be more than 1000 words] should be sent to editorial@risenetworks.org.

To read the online Version of this same article plus past publications and to find out more about Youth Speak, please click www.risenetworks.org/youthspeak and join the ongoing National Conversations.

“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”

RISE NETWORKS

"Nigeria's Leading Private Sector and Donor funded Social Enterprise with deliberate interest in Technology and its relevance to Youth and Education Development across Africa. Our Strategic focus is on vital human capital Development issues and their relationship to economic growth and democratic consolidation." Twitter: @risenetworks || Facebook - RISE GROUP || Google Plus - Rise Networks