Reps Lament Kidnap of Judges, Senate Seeks Permanent Solution

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The House of Representatives on Wednesday lamented the rising spate of insecurity in Nigeria.

It condemned the kidnapping of judges in different parts of the country  and called for better security around judicial officers.

Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Mr Onofiok Luke,  moved a motion on the matter at the plenary on Wednesday, which  was unanimously adopted.

The motion was titled, “Urgent Need for Security Agencies to Ensure the Release of Hon Justice Chioma Nwosu and Increase Security and Protection Around Judicial Officers Across Nigeria.’

Moving the motion, Luke noted that judicial officers were charged with the fundamental responsibility of interpreting laws, adjudicating and resolving disputes, as well as conflicts and controversies between persons, natural or artificial.

He added that the responsibility involved presiding over serious criminal matters and politically charged cases, convicting and passing sentences on hard criminals, including drug dealers, kidnappers and murderers.

According to him, the exercise of this responsibility by judicial officers helps to maintain and preserve stability, peace and equipoise in the polity, and protect and safeguard the rights of citizens.

Luke said, “The House is conscious of the risks associated with performance of judicial responsibility on the lives of judicial officers and their families, and the necessity for judicial officers to be provided a safe, comfortable and conducive environment to operate; disturbed that judicial officers are becoming preys in the hands of criminals and the security of their lives and that of their family is under serious threat.

“Some weeks ago, Justice Abdul Dogo of the Federal High Court, Akure Division, was kidnapped on his way to discharge his official functions, and was later released after spending some days in kidnappers’ den. Just a few days after the release of Justice Dogo, Justice Chioma Nwosu of the Court of Appeal, Benin Judicial Division, was kidnapped in brutal circumstances.  His lordship’s orderly was shot dead.”

The lawmaker said the House appreciated the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies for general security of judicial officers, particularly for securing the release of Dogo.

The House, therefore, unanimously resolved to urge the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies “to ensure the immediate release of Hon. Justice Chioma Nwosu and the apprehension and prosecution of her kidnappers.”

The lawmakers also urged the police to “increase protection and security around judicial officers and their families across the country.”

Also on Wednesday, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said the National Assembly and the executive arm of government  were collaborating on the best ways to tackle insecurity and kidnapping in the country.

Lawan stated this following a  motion on the “Urgent need for Security Agencies to intervene in the increasing rate of kidnapping in the riverine areas of Ogun East Senatorial District and Securing the Waterways.”  The motion was sponsored by Senator Lekan Mustapha.

Lawan said there was an ongoing collaboration between the National Assembly and the security agencies to seek alternative ways of finding a permanent solution to the lingering situation of kidnapping and insecurity across the country.

Lawan identified funding as a major setback in the fight against insecurity.

He said the legislature with the support of the executive arm of government would explore the possibility of sourcing for funds separately from what was budgeted for security agencies in the 2020 budget.

He said the National Assembly had requested the National Security Adviser, Babagana Munguno, to come up with a proposal for the acquisition of drones that would be deployed across the country to facilitate the arrest of kidnappers.

He said the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, had also received the nod to devise a means of tracking kidnappers through active mobile numbers used in the course of negotiations.

The Senate President disclosed plans by the Federal Government to launch a National Emergency Call Centre.

He said an emergency phone number was already activated for the purpose of contacting the various security agencies in times of distress.

He said, “In the last one month, I’ve been holding regular meetings with security agencies, including the Ministers of Communications and the Federal Capital Territory.

“What we are trying to do is to get a better and result-oriented approach to fighting kidnapping and insecurity.

 “We have insisted that no amount of resources will be too much because we need to protect our people and secure the country.

“It will remain a pipe dream if we continue to ask investors to come to Nigeria; even those in Nigeria will not invest properly if the security situation remains very dicey.

“This is something that the National Assembly will have to do together with the executive arm of government. We have to look for something out of the ordinary for funding.

“We have to go out of our way to look for resources outside the national budget. If we can release seven billion naira to Distribution Companies (Discos) or Generation Companies (Gencos), nothing stops us from looking for such money to address the security situation of the country.

“We have already given a request for the NSA to come up with the different designs and models of drones.

“We hope there should be drones properly deployed to ensure kidnappers are arrested.

“We have to find a way to be able to track kidnappers through phones. We should have launched the National Emergency Call Centre with a specific number about two weeks ago.

“We have tried to reconcile all security agencies to have one specific number instead of separate and different ones. We want the emergency call centres to be established across the country. At the moment we have only two major ones.”

Mustapha had condemned  the recent increase in the activities of criminal syndicates who specialize in kidnapping and militant activities in and around riverine communities in Ogun East Senatorial District.

He said  Ode-Omi, Makun and Iwopin in the Ogun Waterside Local Government Area of Ogun State, were the most affected.

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