IF the recent arrest of 36-year-old Chukwududimeme Onuamadike, also known as Evans, a despicable high-profile kidnapper, drew any mixed feelings of relief and euphoria from both the elite and the masses, it was probably because the people must have been inured to the more disconcerting revelations about the contradictions and complicity of the Nigerian state and society that allowed him a free rein for the long period that he held sway.
Before his arrest, Evans lived large in the well-appointed section of the city of Lagos and his residence in Ghana, his second home, compared very favourably with any contemporary luxury resort.
All these acquisitions are however from the proceeds of crime, ranging from kidnapping to armed robbery and until the intervention of the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris, he revelled in the prestige usually reserved and accorded the rich and the upper class of the terribly skewed Nigerian society.
The feelings of relief and euphoria which greeted his arrest have however since proved to be not only premature but also misguided. Kidnapping has continued unabated despite the arrest.
The shameful and reprehensible style of the police, making him to confess under obvious torture, further dented the image of the force as Evans revealed that at some point when he was arrested, he had bought freedom for himself at a very high price.
While the police were gloating over Evans’ arrest, the parents of the kidnapped pupils of the Lagos State Model College at Igbonla, Epe, were ironically reported to be still distraught as their children remained in captivity despite the reported payment of N10 million! Schools, according to media reports, are now looking in the direction of insurance companies for protection, as confidence in the police wanes.
The narratives offered by Evans about his exploits reveal the lax security in the country which allowed him to use several unregistered phone lines.
Indeed, the saga of a school dropout’s massive heist on account of the dysfunctional Nigerian state beggars belief. Evans once spoke about his lavish charity balls in Ghana which Nigeria’s High Commissioner to that country dutifully attended without qualms.
Elsewhere, characters like Evans are routinely screened and when doubts are raised about the legitimacy of their wealth, the searchlights are beamed on them and they are reined in before too long.
The security arrangement in Nigeria is so compromised, not to say corrupt, that criminals regularly delight in throwing circles round the security agencies that are supposed to apprehend them.
It would also seem that the telecoms service providers have not been diligent enough to disable unregistered lines because distress calls and requests for ransom should be traceable, as was done in similar circumstances when such calls provided evidence in nailing certain felons. It is simply incredible that Evans was able to avoid such pitfalls in his criminal trade for quite a long time.
The Nigerian society’s materialistic value base should be held responsible for throwing up obnoxious characters like Evans simply because they have access to filthy money which the ordinary people have been forced to worship.
And when they get desperate under the pressures of existence, they are persuaded to commit various crimes, from ritual murder to armed robbery and kidnapping, not just merely to survive but to prevail.
It is therefore too presumptuous to gloat over the arrest of one kidnapper when there is an army of others out there who are already sold on the idea that it is the way out of their existential problems or challenges. They are desperate and determined to abduct, kill and commit any crime in order to join the affluent class.
The Nigerian state has to demonstrate its resolve not to allow such characters to flourish within its space and the point to start from is through its security agencies. They must be thoroughly professionalised and disciplined enough to eschew complicity and compromise in performing their duties and to embark upon self cleansing whenever elements with such traits sprout among them.
Sadly, discipline has waned among the security agencies and, for the most part, they are characterised by inter- agency conflicts, all shades of corruption, complicity and shameful compromises.
In such circumstances, it should not be surprising that all forms of criminality abound.