Hunger in devil’s den as kidnappers, bandits demand foodstuffs as a ransom
Charles Nwoke, North-West, Nigeria
April 16, 2021
The current hardship being experienced by many Nigerians may have spread to the forests where criminal elements dwell while they carry out their nefarious activities as kidnappers and bandits now demand bags of rice, cartons of noodles, bread, and other food items as part of the conditions to free their captives instead of money.
Unarguably, many Nigerians believe that the level of deteriorating security situation bedeviling the entire nation at the moment may not be unconnected to the current hardship in the land birthed by the high cost of living as prices of essential commodities in the market have continued to rise on daily basis, and the government seems unconcerned.
Kidnappers of some residents of the Kiyi and Anguwar Hausawa community in Kuje and Abaji Area Councils of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, recently demanded that members of the families of their hostages should include foodstuffs in the ransom.
Some of the items demanded by the abductors involve bags of rice, noodles, spaghetti, and cartons of seasoning cubes.
A relative of one of the victims who simply identified himself as “Joshua” said, the items were taken along with N1.5 million as a condition for the release of each captor.
Findings revealed that all the families of the eight persons who were abducted alongside a Pastor of the RCCG, in Kiyi had to buy foodstuffs and cooking utensils as demanded by the kidnappers.
Joshua said, “Other family members did the same thing before their kidnapped relatives were released.
“If you fail to buy those things and take only the cash to them, they will collect it and still hold the victim until you get the foodstuffs for them.”
In a similar case, late last year, families of those abducted from Ushafa in Abuja were ordered by the kidnappers to include 30 loaves of bread, 40 packets of cigarettes, and other items. This was done alongside the payment of ransom before the victims were discharged.
This unholy trend has stimulated reactions from concerned Nigerians as some have blamed the bandits and Fulani militias for making farming activities cumbersome for farmers across the country which according to them, has caused food shortage and hunger in the land.
Many Nigerians are of the view that the inability of governments at all levels to attend to the plights of the citizens particularly in the area of job creation, has plunged the entire nation into unimaginable hardship, difficulties, and hunger which may have been extended to hooliganism in their various hermitages.
Ijanebu Odeh, a Kaduna State resident where scores were recently kidnapped and countless killed by bandits, traced the trend to lack of job opportunities which has triggered unbearable hunger in the land.
She said, “They are doing that because of the situation of the country. Imagine how employers are sacking their workers, leaving them with frustrations and hunger, to even get a job in this country now, one needs connection and when you don’t have the connection, then there’ll be no job for you.
“Those kidnapping and demanding foods for ransom are hungry. They are people that think of how to feed their bellies and those of their families too.
“No working-class person or a businessman will just decide to go into kidnapping because he/she has money to provide whatsoever they need.
“Just of recent here in Kaduna, El-rufai sacked so many local govt workers, leaving them jobless and most of these workers have families to cater for.
“So you see, the Govt is not trying at all and they are the cause of all these kidnappings. They should provide jobs for the youths because not everyone is good at business and there is the need to do something concerning the country’s poor economy.
“It’s not that there’s no money but our leaders have decided to take all the money to themselves and their family members.”
In the same vein, Simon Bameyi, another resident, believed that poisoning the food items before handing them over to the kidnappers, would be a better way of crushing them.
According to him, “It’s cool. Let’s poison the food and give them. Kidnappers killed a police officer in my area yesterday and abducted no fewer than four people.
“In fact, since this year, this place has been their abode. They also deserve to die so whenever they demand food items, it should be poisoned.”
Also, Aguredam Keghter Moses,
State Coordinator Africa Youth Union Commission, Benue State Chapter, lamented how prices of foodstuffs have hiked in the market places, making it inaccessible to average people in the country.
He cried out, “Do you know how much foodstuff is in the market now? Bandits are not allowing farmers to go to the farm. This has created hunger and a poor supply of foodstuffs.
“If not hunger what else could make kidnappers demand foodstuffs? They prevented farmers from engaging in their usual farming activities and now they are also facing the reality and the repercussions of their actions”.
Another resident of Benue State who pleaded anonymity said, the country is currently “about the survival of the fittest”.
In his words, “Kidnappers asking for food as ransom! As hilarious as it might sound, it just exposes us to the current reality of things in the land. It’s about the survival of the fittest and in this case, the kidnappers are holding firm because one is beginning to wonder why there is this sudden rise in cases of kidnapping and banditry.
“There’s hunger in the land, universities keep churning out thousands of graduates yearly with no employment opportunities, farmers and herders crisis is persisting daily, families are losing their means of livelihood. This sudden food for ransom is a clear departure from the norm. This is simply an act of desperation for survival.
“The government of the day needs to sit up because it is in this same country in 2020 that foods meant for the poor as palliatives were stored and not given to the masses even when there was hunger ravaging the land.
“They shouldn’t forget that desperate situation calls for desperate measures or like Sound sultan said ‘one day, the bush meat go catch the hunter’. A word is enough for the salacious”.