When bandits turn ‘Nollywood stars’

No longer content with their vile acts of killing, maiming, raping and pillaging, bandits in Nigeria have now branched into the movie industry – à la Nollywood! In a despicable video posted on social media, which instantly went viral, bandits, who kidnapped travellers being conveyed in a bus belonging to the Niger State Transport Authority (NSTA), showed off the cowed passengers they had abducted last Sunday.

The bandits, who carried weapons, which included Avtomat Kalashnikovas, more popularly known as AK-47s, and rocketpropelled grenade launchers (RPGs), were masked and have demanded the sum of N500 million for all the victims who are close to 30 in number. During the attack, which took place in Yakila village in Rafi Local Government Area of the state, the bandits left behind a woman and her baby while they went away with other passengers.

The passengers were said to be heading to Minna, the state capital from Kontagora when the incident happened. And in order to apply maximum pressure on both the government and the families of those abducted, the bandits can be seen in the video repeatedly letting off volleys of bullets as they spoke in Hausa language; while many of the passengers were clearly petrified. Unfortunately what we saw was not a top rated Nollywood box office hit, but a true life situation in which the bad guys are mocking the state because they know how inept we are when it comes to the issue of security and the likelihood of them being made to pay is virtually non-existent.

But for a security apparatus on top of its game, even though the ‘actors” covered their faces, the video has provided more than enough clues for them to be caught and brought to justice. Proficient intelligence analysts would have been pouring over the video trying to identify the huts and surrounding land-scape with a view to zeroing in on the location where it was shot. Once they would have determined to a large degree of certainty the likely area where the scenery shown in the video could be, they could then deploy satellites to examine the general area with a view to getting a more precise location before sending a drone over the area for a more detailed examination.

Even though they are orbiting thousands of kilometres above the earth, modern satellites are equipped with very sophisticated gadgets, including high powered, high definition cameras which can pick a person’s face from 36,000 km and mapping devices and so on. Now, because civilians (those kidnapped) are involved and the primary aim of the exercise is to rescue them safely, they (the agency in charge of the rescue operation) will not order a missile strike from the drone to neutralise the bad guys.

Instead, with the drone providing realtime images and video coverage; a proper rescue mission can then be planned using Special Forces just like the United States did last October, when they freed an American citizen who had been kidnapped by armed men in an operation in Borno State.

Although originally kidnapped in neighbouring Niger, Philip Walton was brought into Nigeria by his abductors ostensibly because they believed they would be safer here. In confirming the successful operation, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman warned: “The United States will continue to protect our people and our interests anywhere in the world.”

And although these words are very reassuring for American citizens that their government has their backs no matter where they are, it was also a stern warning to the bad boys that they would receive the same fate as the six that were killed during the rescue if they attempt to do the same in future.

Sadly we cannot boast that our government has our backs right on home soil not to talk of thousands of kilometres away from Nigeria. Thus, like I have repeatedly said in some previous articles, it is because the bad boys (and girls) know that the remote likelihood of them being caught, is the main reason why the scourge is spreading faster than even COVID- 19 is in Nigeria.

As usual, after the NSTA bus abductions last weekend, the Nigeria Police mouthed all the right words about leaving no stone unturned until they are able to free those abducted! Alas, the bandits acutely aware that the statement was just the usual hot air, they then went ahead to show off their “acting skills” in the short video they released of their bus victims.

And just like I said in my piece titled: ‘A nation going round in circles’ on February 6 because we always never seem to be able match actions with our words, the bad boys then followed up with another mass kidnapping at a school – Government Science College in the town of Kagara in Niger State. At least 42 people — including 27 students — were abducted, according to initial reports. The Kagara incident is coming barely two months after another mass kidnapping incident involving over 300 students of Government Science School, Kankara in Katsina State.

Despondently, because of the government’s failure to deal decisively with those behind such acts, it is now becoming a regular pattern in the country. In 2018, Boko Haram kidnapped more than 100 girls from Government Girls’ Science and Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi in Yobe State. Five schoolgirls died on the same day of their kidnapping, all others were released in March 2018 except the lone Christian girl Leah Sharibu, as she refused to abandon her faith and convert to Islam.

In February 2014, 59 boys were killed during a Boko Haram attack on the Federal Government College Buni Yadi in Yobe State, while two months later; the same group abducted more than 270 girls from Government Girls Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State.

Yet, despite the frequency of such attacks on schools, our security officials have still not be able to come up with a plan to curb the menace. Speaking to Al Jazeera after the Kankara school abductions, former Education Minister, Oby Ezekwesili, said it was “an indication that we learned no lessons from previous tragedies”. And since they are not facing any retribution for their actions, the bandits have consequently become emboldened enough to not only continue their bad ways, but have now branched into film making a la Nollywood.


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