On Wednesday, August 30, 2017, the relentless fi ght against kidnappers by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, got a boost.
Th e is as a result of the owning up and pleading guilty by the accused notorious and sophisticated kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, aka Evans, and some of his gang members.
Evans was arrested on June 10, 2017, in his Magodo, Lagos residence, by the IGP’s Intelligence Response Team (IRT), led by Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Abba Kyari.
For six years, Evans terrorized Nigerians and nationals of other West African countries before the arm of the law caught up with him.
“For several years, Evans terrorized Nigerians and nationals of many countries across West Africa.
Eff orts to apprehend him did not yield the desired results until we spread our search net wider,” Idris revealed while delivering a paper in Accra, the Ghanaian capital, recently.
Evans was arraigned alongside his accomplices including Uche Amadi, Ogechi Uchechukwu, Okwuchukwu Nwachukwy, Chilaka Ifeanyi and Victor Aduba on a two-count charge of conspiracy and kidnapping.
While Evans, Amadi and Nwachukwu pleaded guilty to the charges Uchechukwu, the only female defendant, Ifeanyi and Aduba pleaded innocence of the off ences.
According to the prosecution led by the Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeniji Kazeem, Evans and his accomplices committed the off ence of conspiracy at 7:45 p.
on Feb 14 on Obokun Street, Ilupeju, Lagos.
Th e prosecution said the defendants between Feb 14 and April 12 on Obokun Street, Ilupeju, while armed with guns and other dangerous weapons, captured and detained Mr Duru Donatus.
According to Kazeem, the defendants collected a ransom of 223,000 euros for the release of Donatius.
However, this singular act of pleading guilty to the charges by Evans has generated a lot of reactions from many prominent Nigerians.
While others are applauding the IGP for standing fi rm despite all distraction in the fi ght against kidnapping and other crimes in the country, others, however, lamented the lack of the needed harsh laws and punishment to be meted on such suspects when convicted that will be commensurate with their off ences.
Since he took over the mantle of leadership of the Force, the police under IGP Idris, arrested over 1000 kidnappers as at the end of July 2017.
“Since my assumption as the IGP of this great country, most heinous crimes, especially kidnapping and armed robbery are being detected with great success.
“More than 1000 kidnappers and armed robbery suspects have been arrested and over 270 of them in the month of July alone and many of these kidnappers are being prosecuted in various courts in Nigeria,” the IGP revealed while presenting a paper in Lagos.
Th is is apart from the ones that were paraded in August in Niger state and on the Abuja-Kaduna highway.
Of recent, the Abuja-Kaduna highway became one of the dangerous roads to pass through in Nigeria.
Th e highway was literarily hijacked by deadly kidnappers and armed robbers.
Many high profi le Nigerians have had their bitter experiences in the hands of kidnappers on that road.
Also, farming activities in towns and villages around the Abuja-Kaduna highway were badly aff ected as farmers could not go to their farms and women were being raped recklessly by the kidnappers.
Worried by the development, Idris in June deployed 600 personnel and 90 vehicles to patrol the road in order to fi sh out these kidnappers.
Few weeks later, the IGP also launched another operation along the Abuja-Kaduna highway christened, Operation Absolute Sanity.
Th is led to the deployment of a joint Police team comprising special police force, counter terrorism squad, anti-kidnapping units, intelligence response team, special tactical squad, the force intelligence branch, the police mobile force with headquarters at Rijanah, Kaduna state.
Th ey were given specifi c and defi nite mandate- to root out the kidnap for ransom and armed robbery gangs that have being terrorizing innocent Nigerians along the AbujaKaduna highway.
Th is strategy seems to be the fi nal stroke that broke the back bone of the kidnappers and armed robbers along the Abuja-Kaduna axis, because within two week of the operation, 72 suspected kidnappers were arrested and paraded.
32 at Katari while 40 at Rijanah.
Also, on August 22, the police paraded 26 suspected robbers, rapists and kidnappers, who were allegedly responsible for terrorising innocent citizens and travelers on the Niger state axis.
Th e suspects, who were also alleged to have relocated from Kaduna due to the security operations going on there, confessed to terrorising AbujaKaduna highway, Kogi state, among others.
However, commenting on the eff orts by the IGP to rid the country of kidnappers, a prominent politician in Abuja, who preferred anonymity, said that it is in tandem with the promise of the Muhammadu Buhari government to keep the country safe.
“Th is guilty plea by Evans and other members of his gang is a vindication of the Nigeria Police Force.
To be fair, the Police under the leadership of IGP Idris have demonstrated commitment to fi ght and halt all criminal elements in the country.
“Nigerians should know that there is no perfect system or organization in the world, we should therefore overlook some of the weaknesses of the police and look at the good things they are currently doing.
“What the current IGP and indeed, the entire Nigeria Police Force need is the support and prayer of all Nigerians to enable them use their meager resources to make the country safe.
” On his part, an Abuja based legal practitioner, Charles Mbalisi, described the arrest, prosecution and the subsequent guilty plea by Evans and his gang members as a land mark victory for the Nigeria police.
“Th is is headway actually for the fi ght against kidnapping by the police,” he said.
He, however, expressed fear that the eff orts by the police might be rubbished due to lack of specifi c laws against kidnapping in Nigeria.
“Meanwhile, the National Assembly should ensure that they come out with specifi c laws against kidnapping.
As it is now, there is no specifi c punishment against kidnapping in our laws.
I think, they should work on that regard so that as soon as somebody owned up that he or she is guilty of kidnapping, he should be sentence according to the law.
“But if there is no law, the judge will have no option than to begin to look for lesser laws that will not be commensurate with the heaviness of the off ence and the expectation of the society as to the punishment that should be meted out,” he noted.
While saying that he is not expecting any heavy punishment to be meted on Evans due to lack of stiff er and harsh laws, the legal practitioner said: “I know that some states have come with laws to say that kidnapping attracts death penalty.
But as for the National Assembly, I don’t think there is any law that has any heavy punishment for kidnapping.
“In the event there are no specifi c laws against kidnapping, the people should not expect heavy conviction on Evans because the judge cannot go and manufacture laws against kidnapping, he has to mete out the ones available.
“Nigerians should not expect heavy punishment like death penalty if there is not law prescribing death penalty for kidnappers.
” However, most Nigerians expressed the belief that whatever happens with Evans in the days ahead, the IGP and indeed the Nigeria Police Force, have done their part and posterity will judge them right.
Abayomi writes from Abuja