Presiding Bishop of Rhema Christian Church and Towers Ota, Ogun State, Taiwo Akinola, has urged the Federal Government to criminalise ransom taking and payment to stem the tide of abductions and kidnapping across the nation.
He lamented kidnappings have become so attractive that only criminalisation of ransom taking and payment will serve as deterrence to those involved.
Akinola also challenged the Federal Government to deal ruthlessly with criminals regardless of their status and origin to arrest rising insecurity.
He spoke last Sunday during a briefing in the church ahead of its mini-convention slated for May 8 at City of Zion on Molufinrin, Wasimi along Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.
The cleric said the mini-convention is a prelude to the 30th anniversary of the church billed for November.
Bemoaning the spate of insecurity in the nation, he said: “Nigerians in the present times are being inundated with reports of killings, herdsmen/farmers clashes, robbery, communal strife, ransom-taking, with resultant disasters and economic depression. Farms are being emptied and the means of livelihoods of many citizens destroyed in many parts of the country.
“In fact, banditry, kidnapping and other forms of terrorism have escalated in the nation in recent times, with school children and students being traumatised with harrowing experiences in the hands of these criminals.
“The impression all these give is that our Government is so helpless, despite the fact that the duty of securing lives and property should be the number one duty of government.”
To change the tide, Akinola, a former lecturer, said there were needs to criminalise payment and collection of ransoms.
According to him: “The bandits have continued their reign of terror on the innocent citizens just because of the money they get out of it.
“They see it as a lucrative venture. But if they see that their gains from criminality are far out of sight, they will most probably retrace their steps.
“I am quite aware that making and implementing such laws may appear tough and inhuman at the beginning but where sustained, I believe that within a short space of time, kidnapping for ransom will go down drastically, and eventually become a thing of the past.”
He also said criminals should be ruthlessly dealt with saying government cannot afford to let people believe it has lost its power of force.
“If criminals are regularly made to taste the brutality of the law through frontal punitive measures and public disgrace, it would serve to deter these criminals and others who are planning to tow such lines.
“It is important to say that if government wishes to succeed in its war against criminality in the society, it must be fair and seen to be fair to all citizens alike. Criminality must be tackled without consideration for ethnicity, region or religion.
“Criminals are criminals anywhere and in every place. To profile a group of people or, worse still, to treat some people as untouchable will not help us out of this challenging security situation. Rather, if care is not taken, it can lead us as a nation to a dangerous and an irredeemable precipice.
“If truth must be told, it is the erosion or outright lack of justice and fairness in Nigeria that is seriously fanning the fires of some agitations and violent tendencies we see around us today. And, our leaders at all levels of governance must think deeply about this, and retrace their steps where necessary.”
He called for a day of national repentance and prayer because there is nothing God cannot do.
Such prayers, he said, would be offered at the mini-convention with the theme “The power of covenant.”