Cheta Nwanze: Why are we encouraging bad behaviour? (Y! FrontPage)

Chxta back

You do not, as a government show any form of weakness to miscreants. There is no surer recipe for anarchy as this kind of behaviour gives all sorts of miscreants the confidence to perpetuate their activities.

There were two events that happened on the same day last week in different parts of the world. To the casual observer, they appear unrelated. But a connection can be made, and that is what we will attempt to do now…

On Monday, April 15, in Boston, Massachusetts two bombs went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. As soon as he was briefed, the US President made a statement, and ended it with the following words, “Any individuals or groups responsible for the ‘senseless’ bombing will feel the full weight of justice.” Five days later, one of the suspects in the bombing was dead, and the other is in custody, with high ranking interrogators waiting for him to utter his first words, then he will begin to sing like a bird. Rest assured that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will, if found guilty of involvement in the bombing, spend the rest of his natural life locked away in some cooler somewhere.

On the same day in Ejigbo, Lagos, the highest ranking official of the government in that area was kidnapped. Kehinde Bamigbetan was ambushed just outside of his home, and whisked away to an unknown location. The next day, the kidnappers placed a phone call to his wife from his cell phone and demanded for the sum of N158 millions. Our state government’s reaction was typically Nigerian. There was no official statement from the office of the Lagos State Governor, and well, the police in Lagos did not consider the situation important enough to have the police commissioner speak. As a matter of fact, the highest ranking police official to speak to the press was Lagos State Deputy Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Damasus Ozoani, who reeled off the usual platitudes, “The police are investigating. We do not want to do our investigations on the pages of the papers so that it will not jeopardise our investigation.”

By Saturday morning, Bamigbetan had been released, and well, someone parted with the sum of N15 millions to secure his release. As of this morning, there were reports that a suspected kidnapper jumped to his death as the police closed in on his location.

If that is true, then some credit must be given to the police.

However, it is our duty to point out the differences in the reaction. You do not, as a government show any form of weakness to miscreants. There is no surer recipe for anarchy as this kind of behaviour gives all sorts of miscreants the confidence to perpetuate their activities. Witness the brazenness in the rise in oil theft even as the country has spent a yet to be calculated amount in an amnesty to hoodlums who took up arms against the Nigerian state. As of today, we are contemplating giving amnesty to another set of brigands in the country’s north, and laughably, those chaps are rejecting our offer. Do we not learn?Looking at kidnapping in the southern part of the country. It became a cottage industry there on the back of continuous payment of ransoms to kidnappers, and worse, not many, if any, were brought to justice. This kind of behaviour simply emboldened other would-be kidnappers. The situation has gotten so bad now, that in Benin where I grew up, so many of my contemporaries do not even bother to go back home. A childhood friend of mine who is based in Port Harcourt told me only last week that he received a phone call from a mutual childhood friend asking whether he was coming “home” for the Easter. That call effectively ended his holiday plans as that friend of ours has a dodgy past, and is known to have fallen on hard times. The fear of kidnap is that real.

Back to the Bamigbetan case: let us assume for one moment, that the ransom payment was a honey-pot meant to trap the kidnappers, then why have they not been caught?

Why did the government not use its authority to trace the phone call made from Bamigbetan’s phone? Truth is this, when you make a phone call from a cell phone, the cell phone reports itself to the nearest base station tower. Using triangulation methods, the networks can locate where the call was made from to within a reasonable degree of accuracy. Why was this not done?

Why are we so unserious?

Bamigbetan was reputed to have refused a police orderly. Fact: he will reconsider this decision. Which means another police man will be taken from the crime fighting arm of the force, and put out on guard duty. One man will reduce our already poor police-citizen ratio. All of this because by paying ransoms, we encourage(d) more bad behaviour.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

One comment

  1. Cheta, If they kidnap you “wife”, abet, no pay ransom. The police obviously track those calls, and also put tracking devices in the money. They wont tell you all that. I thought it’s something you should have known.

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