A leading non-governmental and pro-democracy organization – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has called for a concerted effort and synergy between religious and political leaders of Nigeria to adopt a holistic national policy on violent kidnappings and how to check the astronomic rise in the violent crime.
HURIWA also challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to table the matter of violent kidnappings in the sub-region before a high level consultative parley of the Economic community of West African States (ECOWAS) because the menace is harming industrialization in West Africa and discouraging direct foreign investors from bringing their businesses to the kidnappings prone region.
HURIWA said it has noted with regret that over the past decade the crime of violent criminal abductions/kidnappings of Nigerians for ransom payments have only received lips service and piecemeal cosmetic approach without any major national momentum to criminalize these vicious acts of depravity and enforce capital punishment as the legal sanctions. HURIWA accused the police and other security agencies of colluding to perpetuate the crimes of armed kidnappings going by the likelihood that they may be receiving pay offs from the bandits who have become increasingly daring and sophisticated. HURIWA wondered why the nation has failed to invest substantially in technology as a viable means of waging science based fight against violent kidnappers.
In a statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA disclosed that by next week it will present letters demanding global actions to the global office of Amnesty International in London and the British parliament in Westminster.
Besides, HURIWA has resolved to present a petition to the primate of Anglican Church worldwide in the United Kingdom next week and to dispatch a written presentation to the Holy Father Pope Francis in Rome to demand global leaders’ intervention because the crimes of kidnappings have become of the greatest cause of death of religious leaders in Nigeria and the sub-region.
“We call on the leadership of the Catholic Bishops conference of Nigeria (CBCN), the Christian Association of Nigeria and the Nigerian Council for Islamic Affairs, to meet President Muhammadu Buhari, the council of states and the National Assembly to confront the national security emergency created by the unprecedented rates of armed violent kidnappings in Nigeria.”
HURIWA believes that kidnappers both from within and without have discovered that the Nigerian government tolerates impunity of widespread mass killings by all kinds of freelance armed hoodlums so they have evolved a thriving industry of armed kidnappings for payments aided by some rogue elements in the police and security forces.” It therefore tasked the Federal government to also inaugurate a probe panel made up of internationally acclaimed forensic investors drawn from across the globe to fish out operatives and officers of the police and other security forces who are actively participating in the thriving criminal enterprise of armed kidnappings for monetary settlements.
HURIWA recalled that Killings and kidnapping of priests, the religious and other pastoral workers especially in West Africa, seem to be on the increase just as it noted that the English Africa Service, Vatican News from the Vatican City has now beamed its searchlight on this emerging but sinister criminal gagsterism of armed kidnappings.
HURIWA recalled that the Vatican news channel stated that although it is worth bearing in mind that by far the majority of victims in killings and kidnappings are ordinary innocent persons, crimes targeting religious pastoral workers seem to be on the rise, in Africa.
HURIWA recalled that six days after being kidnapped by unknown gunmen from his parish house, the body of Fr. Clement Rapuluchukwu Ugwu was found Wednesday, this week. He was buried Thursday after Mass at the Holy Ghost Cathedral Church, Ogui Enugu. The Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Callistus Onaga, celebrated the Mass.
Fr. Ugwu was abducted on the night of 13 March from the parish house of St. Mark’s Catholic Church, Obinofia, Ndiuno in Ezeagu LGA of Enugu State. The kidnappers shot him before taking him away with them.
The Guardian – Nigeria quoted Bishop Onaga saying the increasing spate of violent killings in the country was worrying. Both the Bishop and the Diocesan Director of Communications, Fr. Benjamin Achi, called on the state government to live up to its responsibility of protecting lives and property.
Besides, HURIWA recalled that Agenzia Fides reports that Capuchin priest, Fr. Toussaint Zoumaldé, a native of the Central African Republic was killed in Ngaoundéré, Cameroon on his way to Baibokoum in Chad.
According to a statement released by the General Custody of the Capuchins for Chad and the Central African Republic, Fr. Toussaint Zoumaldé had gone to the Diocese of Bouar, in the western part of Central African Republic to conduct some training. In the night between 19 and 20 March, unknown people attacked and killed him in Ngaoundéré (Cameroon) where he had made an overnight stop.
Fr. Toussaint (born in 1971) had worked as the Director of Radio Siriri, in the Diocese of Bouar.
Similarly, HURIWA recalled that In the meantime, the Bishop of Dori, Laurent Dabiré, in the northern part of Burkina Faso had through the media expressed sadness that there is no news concerning the disappearance of Fr. Joël Yougbaré, the parish priest of Djibo.
Recall that last Sunday after celebrating Sunday Mass in Bottogui, Fr. Joël Yougbaré was returning to his parish house along the Djibo-Tongomayel-Nianguel-Sergoussouma-Bottogui road and since then had not been seen. No one knows what became of him. However, the Bishop told Agenzia Fides that the area where the priest disappeared is unsafe due to the presence of jihadist groups.
Also, HURIWA recalled that in mid-February, a Spanish priest and four customs officers were killed in a jihadist attack in eastern Burkina Faso. Similarly, an Italian missionary, Fr. Pierluigi Maccalli, a priest of the Society for African Missions was kidnapped on 17 September 2018 in Tillaberi.
HURIWA recalled that the Islamic advisor to President Muhammadu Buhari Sheikh Ahmad Sulaiman was kidnapped last week in Katsina and a N300 million ransom demands made by the kidnappers to his family made through a call just as the mother in law of the Katsina state governor was kidnapped for two and later released. A reporter with Channels to was kidnapped at the weekend in Abuja and a N50 million ransom demand was slammed on his family.