It is perhaps somewhat odd that, on the day Nigeria was scheduled to play its last group match against Argentina in the ongoing soccer World Cup, a band of criminals plotted and successfully kidnapped the father of Mikel Obi, the captain of the Super Eagles. This happened at a time when everyone focused on the impending match in Russia. What a country. What a national embarrassment. What a demonstration of national betrayal. What a show of shame.
What was the kidnappers’ objective of seizing Mikel Obi’s father? Obi has served his country very well and has continued to do so. Kidnapping his father on a very important day at the World Cup was a sneaky way of belittling all the sacrifices that Obi and all members of the Super Eagles have made to their fatherland.
That match against Argentina was a priority and, therefore, crucial. A triumph over Argentina would determine whether the Super Eagles would advance to the last 16 teams. It was important that all Super Eagles’ players should concentrate on firming the strategies they would adopt in the match against Argentina. The abduction of Obi’s father was a bad distraction. The criminals succeeded in ensuring the Super Eagles lacked maximum concentration ahead of that decisive match against Argentina.
The nation did not realise that Mikel Obi played in that match with half his mind on the game while the other half was weighed down by thoughts of what the kidnappers might be doing to his ageing father. Obi revealed the sad news of his father’s abduction only days after the Super Eagles lost the match to Argentina. He said he received news of his father’s abduction two hours before the match. It was a distressing moment, indeed an excruciatingly painful and embarrassing experience for Obi and the Super Eagles.
Obi said: “We were few hours to kick-off against Argentina when I got wind of the report that my dad had been kidnapped but I had no choice than to pray for his safety and play the game … I felt I had 180 million people behind me and I must make them proud … And it is very painful that we lost to Argentina, if you put all these that happened before the game.”
That sad experience marked the second time Obi’s father was kidnapped. What must have prompted the abductors to target the old man for the second time? Whatever it was could not possibly justify the criminal action of holding someone prisoner against their will. The abduction of Obi’s father was sickening. It should never have happened. Kidnapping is a crime. It is nasty and intolerable. It is abhorrent but the practice is becoming widespread. General poverty or mass unemployment in Nigeria is not sufficient ground to explain why the crime is growing. Nigeria is not the only country in which citizens suffer economic deprivation, poor quality of life, and all forms of hardships.
I have often wondered why countries that used to receive financial support and economic aid from Nigeria have leapt ahead and have recorded successes in various areas while Nigeria continues to move in the wrong direction. Why do some citizens engage in kidnapping that is chiefly designed to earn them ransom, not minding the psychological, emotional, and physical damage to the victims? There are more decent ways to earn a living other than depriving other people their liberty.
Rampant kidnapping is mystifying essentially because Nigeria is not the only poor country in Africa in which such evil practice is non-existent. It is true that the number of Nigerian citizens who engage in all forms of crime is small relative to the overall population of the country. Unfortunately, the criminal activities of the few citizens, combined with illegal raiding of the nation’s treasury by decadent political leaders, have contributed largely to the negative way the international community perceives us.
Re: When a president says ‘Let us pray’
‘Let us pray’ – is that what our president said in Jos, Plateau State, during his visit to the state following the massacre of over 150 citizens in some local communities? What a surprise statement!
President Muhammadu Buhari is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The Constitution grants the president all the powers to ensure that law and order are observed across the country. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Police and all security outfits and intelligence organisations take direct orders from the president. A typical example was the swift move into Abia State by the Nigerian Army to wipe out members of the IPOB. The president also followed up with the proscription of IPOB. Military operations against IPOB took hours and days to enforce. The other example is Boko Haram, the terror group whose capability has now been degraded by the military, despite its initial occupation of some northern communities.
The military and police cannot carry out an illegal order; that is, security forces cannot go after the killer herdsmen without the order of
the president. Any security agency or person that acts without presidential authorisation will be tried under the Armed Forces Act. In some cases, the punishment could be death. Changing the service chiefs will not change the current situation in which people in various parts of the country are massacred by marauding herdsmen. What will change it is an order from the president to the armed forces to use whatever means necessary to protect the life and property of citizens, regardless of where they might reside in the country.
Unfortunately, for so many reasons, the president has failed to issue that order for whatever reasons, including religion, ethnicity, political advantage, and personal benefits. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo realised the president’s biased handling of security matters and cried out. Former Chief of Defence Staff General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma also reacted, somewhat late, to the security problems in the country and the president’s inability to take vigorous action. The uproar from the Christian
Association of Nigeria (CAN), people in various geopolitical zones, and other less privileged citizens will only have effect if God, in His infinite mercy, intervenes. Yes, Jehovah is a man of war – that, I know too well. However, if God, in His sovereign nature, decides to keep quiet, the massacre and genocide will continue.
From the above, Levi, you can draw conclusions and formulate solutions on how to eradicate a clearly terrorist group, known internationally as such but unfortunately protected and operating safely all over the country. For me, I see no major difference between the killer herdsmen and Boko Haram. Boko Haram probably belongs to a wrong sect of the same religious group. The killer herdsmen belong to the right wing of the same religious group. It is a contest within the same group with different propensity. We have a long way to walk: grammar won’t secure peace and justice in various parts of the country currently under siege by evil herdsmen.
Col. R.N. Oputa (rtd), Owerri