PERCEPTOR: 7 Questions On The Anti-Kidnapping Strategy
Perceptor: “By doubting we come to question, and by questioning, we perceive the truth.(Peter Abelard, 1079-1142)
7 Questions on the Anti-Kidnapping Strategy: Perceptor had not intended to write about this matter, because frankly, Perceptor is totally fed up by the way everybody is jumping up and down and acting as though something strange and unusual has happened because this time, it is some journalists who have been kidnapped.
The formal ‘profession’ (i.e. not us here) may have been rather surprised at the acerbic reaction from members of the public, especially those who live in the Eastern states. The general feeling is that since it is the journalists who have refused to report on the situation in the region – how much prominence was given to the fact that banks in Aba were closed for over a fortnight because of armed robbers, or the refusal by NUPENG to deliver fuel to Abia State because they were tired of having their members kidnapped? – then ( leaving aside people looking for public relevance by making clichéd statements as if they too have just discovered that kidnapping is a menace in the country) why all the noise now? In fact, if Perceptor is to be brutally honest, many people outside the charmed circles of journalists and politicians are firmly convinced that the press was taking money to keep quiet about the situation. Or were just too lazy or blind to notice that for more than a year now, nobody in Abia State dresses up for anything or rides big cars any more. Was the press keeping quiet so that unsuspecting innocents would keep coming to the region and get kidnapped because the “watchdog” had gone to sleep or been induced to close its eyes?
So no, Perceptor wasn’t going to write about kidnapping just because journalists were the victims. They seem to be doing quite enough of that themselves anyway. (Journalists writing about the kidnapping of journalists, that is.)
But the more Perceptor sees of the way that the Nigeria Police Force is handling the matter, the more the questions that arise about the strategy that they seem to be employing ...
It may seem callous, but Perceptor must confess to heaving a bit of a sigh of relief when the IG’s ultimatum to the kidnappers to release the journalists and their driver within 24 hours or face the full wrath of the law expired. Because what Perceptor was worrying about was: if the kidnappers release the journalists within the 24 hours, does that mean that they will be allowed to go scot free? Because if they have to release the journalists and NOT face the full wrath of the law, doesn’t that mean that they will be free to make up their losses from ordinary people? Over whose sufferings the media professionals can go back to sleep?
2. Does Mr. Onovo really think that registration of SIM cards is going to ‘flush out’ kidnappers?
If he does, may Perceptor recommend that he find time to read the harrowing account of his kidnapping ordeal by Dr. Ohaka. Perceptor doesn’t know whether the IG would have read or heard the account in any of the print or electronic media whose members are now the subject of so much official concern, but it was widely circulated through the Internet at the end of May this year.
If the IG can get hold of a copy, he will discover that when the kidnappers want to make contact with the relatives of their victims, they don’t use their own mobile phones. They use their VICTIMS’ phones.
And that’s before we even get to the subject of the number of mobile phones (with SIM card intact) that are simply stolen from the owners ...
3. Does Mr. Onovo really think that all SIM cards are going to be registered in any meaningful way anyway?
It is all very well to insist that all SIM cards must be registered, but Perceptor doubts that that is really going to happen. For example, when it comes to registering for post-paid telephone services, you have to produce electricity bills, international passports or documents like that to back up your request. Now, Perceptor invites you, dear reader, to take a straw poll of the number of people you know who have a mobile phone, and find out how many of them can produce any of these documents. Perceptor is very glad that we’ve moved beyond the days when telephones were only for the rich, but since they are now for everybody and his housegirl, Perceptor wants to suggest to Mr. IGP, ever so gently, that IT WON’T MAKE A BLIND BIT OF DIFFERENCE!
Why? Because does anybody really believe that mobile phone operators are going to strangle their business by stopping anybody who wants and can afford a SIM card from getting one just because they haven’t got some solid proof of identity? Perceptor doesn’t THINK so! And if Mr. IG does think so, Perceptor wonders whether he can tell us what is the current state of the requirement that the same mobile phone operators should start using the IIEE numbers of telephone handsets to deter mobile phone theft ...
Perceptor also draws Mr. IG’s attention to the fact that even countries that started with all sorts of stringent requirements for someone to get a mobile phone are moving away from that sort of regime because they know that there’s so much fakery and theft in the field that IT WON’T MAKE A BLIND BIT OF DIFFERENCE!
4. Do the Nigeria Police actually know how mobile telephones work?
As Perceptor understands it, the important thing with kidnappers is not: Whose phone are they using? but: Where are they calling from? Actually, Perceptor is sure that the NPF knows very well that you can trace the place where calls are being made from by the relevant tower that relays their signal. But does it help to start shouting (possibly on the basis of that simple bit of techno) that you’ve found the kidnappers’ hideout when you haven’t actually found either the kidnappers or their hostages?
5. What about all those unseen spies?
One thing Perceptor remembers from Chris Anyanwu’s book about her experiences in Sani Abacha’s gulag, ‘Days of Terror’ is that while she was being processed, the SSS was receiving reports from a wide variety of people that she would never have suspected were SSS informants, pepper sellers, taxi drivers, cooks, roadside tea canteens, vendors, and so on.
Have all these people been retired? Yes, Perceptor knows that in Anyanwu’s day they were probably spying on harmless human rights activists, but surely if they are still on the job, they would notice if someone in the area is keeping hostages wouldn’t they? Or ... aren’t the SSS talking to the NPF? And if they aren’t, why don’t they grab a bit of the glory for themselves?
6. Does any kidnap victim trust the NPF?
Perceptor really does advise Mr. Onovo to read Dr. Ohaku’s account. Because when he threatens the victims of the carelessness and inability of his own men to provide security with punishment for securing the release of their relatives by paying ransom, does it occur to him to wonder why people prefer to do that instead of going to the police?
As Dr. Ohaku said at the end his account, when he went to collect his car from the POLICE STATION where the kidnappers had parked it, he “guarded his utterances because you never know who the insiders were.” He also said “I did not involve the police and it was the best decision. The location of the camp is not hidden. ... The chairman/leader of the group who authorized each release has facial tribal marks, speaks same dialect. It may not surprise me if he is a northerner and security personnel.”
Well, it is Dr. Ohaku who had the terrible experience so he must know why he said that. But despite all the declaration of war on kidnapping by everybody from President Johnson to David Mark and the IGP, Perceptor can’t help wondering ...
7. ... how can the Police ever hope to stop kidnapping when nobody believes that they aren’t hand in glove with the kidnappers?
For those who don’t recognise her name, about 100 or more years ago, Mrs. Beeton wrote a famous cookbook. One of the popular dishes of the day was ‘jugged hare’, and several people were championing their own recipes for the favourite meal. Mrs. Beeton however, was expected to take a more practical and pragmatic approach. Thus it is that her own recipe for jugged hare is often popularly misquoted as having begun with the words: “First catch your hare ...” Because truly, all those fancy recipes are not going to do a cook much good if said cook doesn’t actually have a hare to jug! First things first eh?
You will understand therefore, gentle reader, why this misquotation sprang to Perceptor’s mind when news broke that Ibrahim Babangida had been boasting that “Nobody can annul my election.” All that Perceptor can say to Mr. Babangida is, as Mrs. Beeton might have said: “First win your election ...”
Perceptor’s unfinished perceptions ...
You, dear reader, are ever on Perceptor’s mind, and many is the time that Perceptor has put finger to keyboard only to have the matter overtaken by some other (preferably income-generating) events. That is why a lot that Perceptor starts, doesn’t get finished before the thing that it was about has become stale news. What follows are the ones that never quite got to the finishing line ...
(TRAVEL On Government Unlimited Estacode)
Yes, Perceptor knows, the 140 has been broken down into the President’s advance party, the ‘Recce’ party, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ own advance party, the ’plane-flying party and for all Perceptor knows, the First Lady Dame’s hairdresser’s trouser-press holder’s party. But when Perceptor tries to beat the upper limit for signing cheques at Perceptor’s bank by signing four or five cheques, each of which comes in below the limit, Perceptor’s bank joins all of them together and declares a foul. So Perceptor doesn’t think it is so out of order to join up all those Toronto-bound Naija public servants and say that Mr. President travelled for a meeting at which Nigeria is only a participant with 140 people at government expense. Or rather, at Perceptor’s expense. And yours.
What baffles Perceptor is that this ‘cast of thousands’ approach to official international travel manifests itself no matter what the particular reason for the trip is. So it was that two-thirds of the Senate went to watch our 23-man football squad score a total of ... three (3) goals without winning a single match. Perceptor is very sure that it was out of sheer sympathy for the long-suffering Nigerian masses that Yakubu Aiyegbeni’s foot refused to score that goal against South Korea the other day, thereby removing any further excuse (on footballing grounds at least) for further jamboree at their expense. Yes, Perceptor knows that you will say that the trip was arranged by MTN, but unless and until (and probably not even then) Perceptor hears a categorical denial from each and every one of those 69 Senators that they did not and will not collect Estacode for the trip, Perceptor will be forced to list that trip under TRAVEL-On Government Unlimited Estacode.
The Senatorial mission to the World Cup 2010 in South Africa which was obviously designed solely to offend the god of football, is not to be confused with the Presidential mission to the World Cup 2010 in South Africa which was in solidarity with and to thank our South African brothers and sisters who so obligingly stepped in to do what the ‘Giant of Africa’ has been so spectacularly unable to
Remind Perceptor again what it was that Mr. President and his 140 Merry Men (and Women too!) went to do in Toronto? Oh yes, it was so that Mr. President could make a 20 minute address at a side-meeting to beg for debt relief for Africa. Because we are too poor to pay the money back. Now, Perceptor’s brow is positively furrowed trying to work out what on earth could it be that is making us too poor? Where, Perceptor wonders, could all the money we get from oil and other taxes, customs duties, fees and so on, where oh where can all that money have gone?
My Uncle, the Cow ... (I wan’ chop beef)
When Perceptor first started this list, Perceptor had been struck by the number of people who were crawling out of the woodwork to start shouting about Merit! Not Zoning! All because they wanted to suck up to the new President, Goodluck Jonathan. It reminded Perceptor of the popular rebuke to sycophants: “Must you call a COW ‘UNCLE’ just because you want to eat BEEF?” It turned out that there is a long list of would-be beefeaters in Nigeria, but every time Perceptor turned around, the list had grown longer. And longer. And longer. In the end, Perceptor just had to give up!
Comfort Ovbiagele: He was described at the end of his article in The Guardian of 14th May as “a Lagos-based media consultant”. Perceptor has no idea what that might entail, but his hilarious article in The Guardian of 14th May is surely the gold standard when it comes to bootlicking sycophancy. Jonathan, who other commentators were embarrassed to note did not even know what Nigeria’s foreign policy is on his first trip to the US to join a gang of 14 anti-nukes heads of state to do some finger-wagging at Iran and get some ‘face time’ with Barack Obama, according to Comfort, has an “unassailable international profile”.
Timipre Sylva: Perceptor recognises that “needs must when the devil drives”, but surely nobody is being taken in by this new Best Friends Forever gig?
Hon. Beni Lar: House of Representatives Member from Plateau State suddenly discovered that zoning was unconstitutional.
Plus including Solomon D. Lar:
Isa Yuguda, Bauchi State Governor has also suddenly discovered that zoning is unconstitutional. According to him, it is only God who makes leaders.
Bo! The list kept on growing. And Perceptor is already fed up with it. Please add your own names. Just call them ‘BEEFEATERS’.
But Perceptor notes that some beefeaters are quite ready to call a GOAT ‘UNCLE’ if BEEF goes out of fashion. Thus it is that while we find Ibrahim Babangida also spouting one thing one day about zoning and another thing the next, Perceptor thinks that the gold prize for shameless beef-o-philia has to go to his election-ready suggestion that “Nigeria must IMMORTALIZE late M.K.O. Abiola ...”
By Your Friends ...
Perceptor is as anxious to jump onto the tail of another recently re-discovered saint as anybody else, but ... e get but. Mr. Nuhu Ribadu is back in Nigeria sprouting AIG (Rtd) among his titles, and will soon add ‘Dr.’ to these and more, so the ‘Friends of Ribadu’ have been quickly up and doing, taking out full page advertisements in a number of national newspapers to tell us that Ribadu is a National Hero with more to come. At first Perceptor was quite hurt at being left out the Friends of Ribadu listed in these adverts, but on second thoughts, Perceptor doesn’t know whether to be glad or sad.
On the one hand, the friends include stalwart human rights activists such as Femi Falana, Ike Okonta, Joe Odumakin and Ledum Mittee. There are loads and loads of media men Babafemi Ojudu, Dapo Olorunyomi, Dele Olojede, Ben Bruce and Raymond Dokpesi amongst others. Well Perceptor can understand why AIG Ribadu (Rtd.) might have so many friends in the media – after all, he did court them so assiduously during his time as boss of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission didn’t he?
Perceptor can even understand why big businessmen like Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola, are on the list: after all, once you’ve clawed your own way to the top of the heap, you want everybody else to play by the rules don’t you? And perhaps the AIG (Rtd.) and Hakeem Bello-Osagie became chums during the time that Bello-Osagie spent in the custody ... oh! Perceptor means Company ... of the EFCC back in the day. Yes, Perceptor could have quite fancied being in a group like that.
But on the other hand, Perceptor must confess to being surprised to find the names of quite so many politicians amongst the friends of AIG Ribadu (Rtd.) listed on full page adverts welcoming him back. Since Shola Akinyede chairs the Senate committee that deals with AIG Ribadu (Rtd.)’s old stamping ground, Perceptor can (just about) understand why he is there. But what are Akin Oshuntokun, Babatunde Raji Fasola, Kayode Fayemi, Ken Nnamani, Donald and Onari Duke doing there? Could it be that they are just taking out insurance against some past and future political activity?
Yet, if THOSE politicians are taking out insurance, aren’t you supposed to pay the premium before the disaster strikes? So what then, are the Abdul-Razaqs and Femi Fani-Kayodes doing there? The EFCC and/or ICPC have already dragged them to court! Or is it just their way of saying how grateful they are to AIG Ribadu (Rtd.) that he never tried anything like that with them when HE was in charge? In that case ... but no, Perceptor can’t find the name Olusegun (don’t say ‘Haliburton’) Obasanjo on the list. Odd, that.
Frankly, Perceptor finds it a bit hard to work out WHO AIG Ribadu (Rtd.) is, going by this particular list of friends. Andy Uba? Bayo Ojo? Zakari Hassan Biu??!!
Or is this just a list of wannabe’s, peppered with some genuine pals to make the thing look decent?
In the Spirit of Aunty Dora
Perceptor wishes to report several good things happening in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The main item under this heading, in which we say nice things to say about this great nation of good people, is that Perceptor’s teeth are beginning to ache.
The next item is ... Perceptor’s teeth are aching, SO WHAT? did Perceptor hear you mutter? But surely it is obvious? Perceptor’s teeth are aching because Perceptor is being forced to drink large quantities of ice cold water! Need Perceptor say more? Long unbroken hours of public power supply ! ! ! Refrigerators that as a result, actually refrigerate ! ! ! Duuuh!
Now, as Perceptor was saying. The next item is ... er, ... that’s it.