In this interview with KAYODE ADEOTI, an Ilorin-based legal practitioner, Adeola Omotunde speaks on the danger Nigeria society may face for paying ransom to the terrorists in order to recover the abducted Chibok and Dapchi girls among other germane issues. Excerpts:
The Federal Government said it negotiated with the abductors of the Dapchi Schoolgirls kidnapped early last month. What is your reaction to this?
That was not the first to happen in Nigeria, yet many of these girls (the Chibok girls) who were initially kidnapped have not been released, the few that were released, we learned it was through negotiations and that ransom was paid by the Federal Government to the terrorists. The payment has now encouraged them to execute another abduction. It has now become a business. They may now start going to schools in Nigeria, looking for students to kidnap with the belief that government will pay ransom. Kidnapping is now a thriving business in Nigeria, it is not like armed robbery. They’ve succeeded on that of Chibok and Dapchi and if it is not checked, it’s going to be a business we won’t be able to control. They could target the President’s daughter, take her away and become billionaire next hour. You don’t pay ransom to terrorists, you control it, we are legalising the act indirectly with the payment. I was travelling to Oyo State yesterday, I turned back half way because we heard of kidnapping ahead of us. One don’t negotiate with terrorists, what has become of the series of negotiations we had with the Boko Haram terrorists? Have they stopped bombing? The only way to deal with them is to eliminate them outrightly, they don’t understand the language of peace but of force, we can only win them when we have higher forces than theirs, that is the way out.
What precautionary measures do you think government should put in place to prevent re- occurrence?
We should understand that Federal Government does not have adequate security that could assist Nigerians. We are all living in fear. Considering the last abduction, the military in the school withdrew without any explanation. The protection of lives of the populace is the resoponsibility of the government, once government fails in that regards, it fails totally. We are not free in Nigeria; today we travel in fear. Government has said that it’s deploying NSCDC to schools, if the police has failed what can the Civil Defence Corps do? The irony about these terrorist is that, they attack army barracks, police stations and seized their ammunitions. We have not provided enough measures to halt the menace. Such abduction cannot be done in America, their security gadgets will fish perpetrators out, they have scientific methods, Close Circuit Television (CCTV), Satellite, finger print… Even in Abuja, no such gadget, you rob anywhere in Nigeria and go scot free. It is only in Nigeria that we have ‘Yellow Fever’ in the world, once you break traffic law, you will be fined immediately…
There seems to be a renewed advocacy in support of death sentence for rape offence…would you subscribe to that?
I’m against death sentence for rape because life is sacrosanct. Two wrongs cannot make a right, somebody committed an offence, you don’t terminate such life in order to correct his wrong. I know raping is an heinous offence but judging from our level, our background, Nigeria has not attained the level to start sentencing rapist to death. Reason is because, some people manipulate rape. Take for instance, a girl committing sins with her lover later raised alarm that his boyfriend raped her, that’s why it is difficult to prove what is rape in some cases. Across the world, death sentence is no longer fashionable even for heinous offences because life is not created by us, but by God and once it is taken, no one can replace it. A man who committed rape, if he’s reformed, can become great in the future and contribute meaningful to his family, society and to himself. There was one Paul Derossi, an Italian who played foot ball many years ago. There was a world cup match, he was in prison and he was a key man to that team, he was brought out of prison to play for his country, Italy won the cup courtesy of the major contributions of that convict, if he had been killed, that landmark victory for his country wouldn’t have been achieved. Death sentence is too grievous to be allowed.