With the spate of kidnappings constantly on the increase and sweeping across the south-west states and other geopolitical zones at large, rights activist, Jiti Ogunye has likened the scenario to that of the slave trade era.
According to Ogunye, who is also a lawyer in a statement, the vast forests of Yoruba land have been occupied by kidnappers and bandits, who are mostly foreigners, with the sole aim of trading their victims for ransom and in some cases kill their victims when the negotiations go awry.
The statement issued on Monday entitled, “Kidnapping On Highways In The Yoruba West: We Are Back To The Slave Trade Era,” further stated that the current situation is similar with the 16th century menace where human being were captured into waiting ships to be used as slaves on farmlands.
The statement read, “In the Trans-Atlantic slave trade era, slave raiders, called “ ipata” used to harvest people on footpaths and on farms in the Yoruba heartland. Their preferences were strapping young men and women and children. Successful, they moved their captives to the coastal settlements of Lagos and Badagry to be traded and shipped to the Americas.
“Sadly, such a time has, again, arrived.
“Armed bandits, including foreigners, are in the Yoruba forests, where they have apparently set up temporary camps. From these camps, they intermittently storm the highways and kidnap travelers, who they hold and only release in exchange for ransoms. They terrorize, defile and sometimes kill their victims.
“Humans beings are not being captured to be shipped to plantations in America, but human beings are being captured and traded like animals; and stolen and exchanged for money like articles of trade.
“This has been happening in other parts of Nigeria. Now, that this phenomenon is moving closer and closer to the erstwhile slaves depot of Lagos, we must realize that we all face an existential threat.
“When Fela sang his song, Movement Against Second Slavery (MASS), he imagined that Africa was facing imminent re-enslavement through imperialism , and now globalization. He didn’t mean the actual return of the slave trade era”
While calling for the urgent review of the country’s security apparatus, Ogunye lamented that the security situation has deteriorated beyond human comprehension with the recent kidnapping of a corpse in Rivers state.
“Now, a new variant of the slave trade era is here. Banditry and kidnapping. An era in which both the living, and the dead can be kidnapped for ransom, as it was the case recently in Rivers State where a corpse was seized to force ransom payments.
“There is an urgent need for a total reconfiguration of the internal security system in Nigeria. Peoples Police (police establishments for states, local government areas , cities, and qualified designated institutions.) must be formed to co-exist with the unitary ( not Federal ) Nigeria Police Force.
“We delay at our own peril,” Ogunye stated.