Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA) on Wednesday, carpeted the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami; and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele over the non-workable policies of the two bodies and their failures to halt kidnapping and ransom-collection in the country.
HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement, lambasted the communication minister who on Tuesday said that the government would leverage 5G technology to help the security agencies to curb insecurity.
The group said Pantami put the lives of Nigerians at risk during the COVID-19 outbreak and made it mandatory for people to gather at the offices of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to register National Identification Number (NIN). The minister had boasted that the NIN would help to have a national database to curb kidnapping and ransom collection.
However, despite that at least 95 million Nigerians have obtained their NIN, the communications ministry under Pantami has not been able to enable the arrest of kidnappers who use their phone numbers to contact families of victims to demand millions of ransom.
On the same hand, Emefiele in Abuja on Tuesday boasted that the newly redesigned naira notes and cash withdrawal limits have reduced kidnapping and ransom-taking. But HURIWA flayed him for failing to expose kidnappers through the Bank Verification Number (BVN) which is said to be a biometric capture of customers’ information as many victims’ families have paid millions of naira as ransom to the bank accounts of kidnappers and not one of the abductors have been flagged and apprehended.
HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami; and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele have started again with their bogus claims on fighting insecurity. Nigerians can see for themselves that the so-called measures put in place by the two men are like going round a circle; motion without movement at best.
“The case of Pantami is particularly painful. He compelled millions of Nigerians amidst the deadly risks of Covid-19 pandemic to crowd around offices of NIMC to struggle to get enrolled into NIN or lose their telephone lines. After these struggles with thousands of people apparently probably contracting Covid-19 as a result, the state of insecurity got worst with the terrorists, kidnappers, and mass killers becoming deadlier and successfully negotiating for ransom payments using their lines and not getting caught.
“In fact, since the noise about NIN registration, kidnappings and dastardly attacks have heightened. On July 5, 2022, gunmen attacked the Kuje Prison facility and freed hundreds of inmates, including scores of suspected Boko Haram members. Till date, the suspects and their family members whose records are with the Nigerian Correctional Service have not been re-arrested or traced. Equally, on March 28, 2022, insurgents attacked the Abuja-Kaduna train and abducted scores of passengers. Astonishingly, the marauders communicated via phone with the victims’ families and got millions of naira as ransom but Pantami and his agencies couldn’t track them using the NIN.
“In fact, no fewer than 53,418 Nigerians lost their lives to non-state actors between May 29, 2015 and October 15, 2022, according to the Nigerian Security Tracker, a project of the Council on Foreign Relations of the United States of America.
“Nigerians should take note of leaders of alleged questionable character and reject such in the next administration. It is unthinkable that Emefiele is being accused of alleged terrorism financing by the Department of State Services (DSS) and Pantami allegedly linked with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Nigerians won’t forget the complicity of the regime of President Muhammadu Buhari in the reprehensible and repressing difficulties confronting Nigerians as he failed to sack these two men when it matters the most. The CBN argument that the redesigned naira notes was to stop vote buying is puerile and laughable because the new notes distributed to the deposit banks by the CBN are all bought up by politicians contesting for political offices and some even displayed millions of these new naira notes on social media during their public political campaigns in their states.”
January 25, 2023
Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko
National Coordinator – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA.