Pan Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has urged the National Youth Service Corps to allow corps members to serve in their respective home states till security agencies stop the menacing spate of kidnapping and the insecurity in the country.
The group also challenged the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to do all that he said to world leaders at the 76th United Nations General Assembly in New York last week.
National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, made this known in a statement on Monday, titled, ‘Buhari Speech At The UN: Afenifere Challenges Buhari To Practice What He Preaches…Calls For The Decentralization Of NYSC.’
While reacting to a handbook issued by NYSC to corpers titled, ‘Security Awareness and Education Handbook For Corps Members and Staff’, Afenifere said by serving in their home states, the chances of corpers being kidnapped would greatly be minimised.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that the NYSC handbook, on page 56, advised corps members travelling on “high-risk” roads to alert their “family members, friends and colleagues to have someone on hand to pay off the ransom that could be demanded” in case they are kidnapped.
The Scheme listed such roads as “Abuja-Kaduna, Abuja-Lokoja-Okene, or Aba-Port Harcourt” roads.
The NYSC later in a statement denied giving them advice, even when each corps member has the handbook.
Reacting, Afenifere said, “Since it has been admitted even by the Federal Government agency that we may need to live by kidnap syndrome as indicated by this NYSC tip, the minimum that the government owes parents and corpers in this regard is to let the youths serve their nation in their respective states.
“That way, their chances of being kidnapped would greatly be minimized.”
The group also lamented that the government’s poor handling of kidnapping was what has emboldened the perpetrators to continue in their dastardly acts.
“We call on the government to immediately allow states to transform their respective security networks into state police with all the powers appertaining thereto,” Afenifere stated.
In recent months, the Abuja-Kaduna, Abuja-Lokoja-Okene and Aba-Port-Harcourt roads have witnessed an unprecedented spate of kidnapping as rampaging bandits waylay travellers, take them hostage until their families and associates pay huge amounts of money before releasing them.
Students have been the most affected by the menacing activities of the unscrupulous elements; and parents of prospective corps members kicking against the posting of their wards to bandits-ravaged states. But despite their objection, thousands of fresh graduates are still being posted to high-risk zones.
A number of corpers have been kidnapped in recent months. The rate of kidnapping on major roads has forced many corps members to abandon road transportation and opt for air transportation to connect their base to their states of posting which is usually outside their geopolitical zone.
Kidnapping has become a sordid menace and a lucrative ‘enterprise’ in Nigeria as the West African nation’s security situation worsens.
Many Nigerians are disappointed in the regime of Buhari, who rode to power on the heels of combating the security challenges plaguing the country in 2015 but the situation seems to have been aggravated in the last six years.
Aside from the kidnapping of students and corpers, hundreds of Nigerians have also fallen victims to kidnappers in recent times. Their families have had to part with millions of naira to secure their release after days or even weeks of excruciating pains and agony. However, some families have not been so lucky as the daredevil kidnappers rape and kill their victims even after receiving millions of naira as ransom.
The Senate had proposed a bill seeking to prohibit the payment and receipt of ransom for the release of any person kidnapped, imprisoned or wrongfully confined.
According to the bill, Nigerians who pay ransom to kidnappers and kidnappers who receive ransom risk 15 years imprisonment.
But many Nigerians had flayed the upper chamber and described the bill as stupid. They noted that the National Assembly should instead focus on ensuring they make laws that guarantee adequate security for every Nigerian.