President of Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria (AISSON) Dr. Ona Ekhomu and the Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) for Lagos and Ogun Mr. Mamman Tsafe have said kidnapping thrives because it is a source of easy cash.
Ekhomu said more high profile kidnap incidents are likely to be recorded this Christmas season.
Tsafe also attributed the high rate of kidnapping to payment of ransom by relatives of the abducted.
Tsafe told reporters in Abeokuta that it was important for relatives of victims to trust the police and show understanding in the rescue operations.
Tsafe, who was in Abeokuta as part of his routine visit to formations under his commands, said: “When you pay ransom to kidnappers you are only telling them that they are in the right business. We implore relatives to believe in us rather than discuss with kidnappers.’’
In a statement yesterday, Ekhomu said kidnapping was now preferred by criminal syndicates as low risk but high-profit venture.
He said children of rich Nigerians on holidays could also be targeted by kidnappers as a way to make easy money. He said parents should caution their wards on being security conscious this Christmas.
Ekhomu said kidnappers preferred their trade as it did not carry the high risk that was involved in bank robbery, home invasion and car-jacking.
The security expert said several vulnerabilities were exploited by the kidnap gang in the abduction of Prof. Kemana Okonjo in Ogwashi Uku, Delta State. He said the absence of a capable guardian (policeman, security guard or vigilante) was quite unfortunate. He also said the occupants of the compound did not display security awareness as they did not observe the attackers who were said to have been lurking around the entrance of the king’s palace.
Ekhomu said: “This dreadful criminal act was foreseeable and preventable.” He said prominent Nigerians should conduct kidnap risk assessment for their relations in their villages.
He added: “If the probability of victimisation was high, then one must act to strengthen the target against attack. The target-hardening measures include hiring security personnel to provide access control, installation of security technology, including CCTV surveillance systems and intruder alarm systems, including installation of vehicle tracking and personal tracking equipment and risk avoidance by temporarily relocating from the village.”
He urged vigilance on the part of parents in major urban areas, such as Lagos, Ibadan, Benin City and Port Harcourt.
Tsafe called for the cooperation of relatives of kidnapped victims as well as public-spirited individuals in the fight against kidnappers.
He said it was important for citizens to provide information that could help the police in tracking down not just the kidnappers, but also other criminals in the society.
The AIG said that Lagos and Ogun commands had been adequately equipped to tackle the menace of armed robbers, and to make both states safe for all and sundry during the Yuletide period.
“We understand that the government of Ogun is making roads, and banks are relocating; we are adequately prepared and I will not like to disclose our strategies.
“In addition to our normal routine patrols of banks and other strategic places, we also have taken some measures to check criminals and make our people sleep with their eyes closed.”
He stated that some suspects had been arrested in connection with the killing of five policemen in Ogun in November, adding: “they are giving us very useful information that could lead to more arrests’’.
“They have confessed that their gang had killed more than 11 policemen across the country, but we don’t want to talk too much for now,’’ he said.
Tsafe urged residents to go about their normal duties, saying that the police were on top of the security situation in both states.