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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Nigeria: Govt to 'Treat Kidnappers As Terrorists'


Abuja — The Federal Government yesterday described kidnapping as an act of terrorism which deserves stringent measures to confront.
Minister of Information and Communication, Prof. Dora Akunyili, while speaking at a reception held in honour of the freed kidnapped journalists in Abuja, said government plans to use the on-going SIM card registration exercise to checkmate the spate of kidnap incidents in the country.

She said kidnapping is unknown to our country's culture and way of life and as such government would combat it at all fronts to prevent it from further damaging the image of the country.

According to the Minister, government views the act of kidnapping as a form of terrorism which everybody must condemn and collaboratively fight.

She said because of the seriousness attached to the policy of registration of SIM card, the Ministry has resloved to ensure that the exercise is thorough and meticulous.

"We can now see the great need for us to have our SIM card registered because if all our SIM cards were registered properly we would have been able to track down the kidnappers earleir than we did.

We are also going to ensure that the SIM card registration is thorough because we already got a report that some people who came to register their SIM cards were providing false names. We were really rattled by that information. I believe that as soon as that registration of new and old SIM cards takes place, kidnapping will become a thing of the past", she said.

Akunyili expressed concern that the issue of kidnapping is fast becoming a stumbling block to business development in Nigeria, adding that both local and foreign investors are now being frightened away by the negative act.

"What is happening to Nigeria?, throughout my early childhood days, I never believed that this is possible because the Nigeria I met as a child was a country of love, oneness , unity, give and take. It is a country where values were held very sacred and sacosant".

" The issue of kidnapping is unknown to our culture. It is also allien to Nigerian environment and has constituted a serious afront to our culture and values as a people". she said.

The Minister said the trauma and discomfort the victims of kidnapping and their families undergo during captivity is beyound description.

Akunyili used the opportunity to appeal to governors in the South-East and South-South parts of the country to rally round and collaborate with each other in finding lasting solutions to kidnapping in their areas.

While welcoming the freed journalists led by the Chairman of the Lagos state council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Mr. Wahab Oba, Akunyili expressed satisfaction with the efforts of the security agencies and all Nigerians who helped in one way or the other to effect the release of the journalists.

" We are happy that they came back safe and sound. I specifically want to thank the Nigerian security agencies for joing hands in securing the release of the journalists and their driver. I want to specially thank the GSM operators who worked through the night in trailing the kidnappers and eventually succeeding in effecting the release of the kidnapped persons", she said.

She also commended the leadership of the NUJ for their display of an uncommon unity of purpose and sense of community during the search for their colleagues.

The Lagos NUJ chairman, used the avenue to clear the air on the issue of the N3m said to have been stolen from the journalists by the kidnappers, saying the amount was not only cash but included the cost of all their belongings lost during the incident.

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