With the rate of kidnapping in states across Nigeria being on a record high, the Department of State Security (DSS) in a bid to create more awareness among Very Important Persons (VIPs), released a book packed with a sting of tips and guidelines.
The book titled ‘Kidnapping’ gives an insight as to why an individual and his family could be targets of kidnappers, as well as copping mechanisms if they eventually fall victims.
An excerpt from the introductory section reads, “This handbook is designed to specifically acquaint VIPs of important tips that would enhance their security and that of family members.”
It is important to note that it is not only the rich that have fallen victim. The spate of kidnaps in today’s Nigeria targets both the rich and the poor, including farmers, market women and road commuters. More recently, security operatives including officers of the Nigeria Police Force, National Secuirty and Civil Defence Corps, as well as personnels of the Federal Road Safety Corps have also fallen victims.
The Street Journal, in September, reported how two commercial buses conveying FRSC officials from the North-West part of the county to Abuja were attacked by armed bandits around Nasarawa State. While two officials were killed on the spot, about 26 others were abducted. Despite the police denying claims of having to pay a ransom, reports flooded the media that six of the kidnapped operatives collectively paid the sum of N36 million to effect their release.
A similar trend in November saw twelve Assistant Superintendents of Police (ASPs) who were embarking on special duty from Katsina to Zamfara being kidnapped by bandits. Their families were faced with the challenge of disposing landed properties and personal effects to raise a ransom. The kidnapped officers were released a week later and there was no report disclosing if a ransom was paid or not.
Today, highways in the North, South East and West of Nigeria are no longer safe. Commuters are left to face both the deplorable state of some roads, as well as the fear of being kidnapped.
The DSS, in the handbook, notes that an individual could be targeted by kidnappers based on the appearance, popularity, having unguided aides and unfaithful employees, flambouyant lifestyles and entrusting transaction that are meant to be discrete to others.
What the DSS expects VIPs to know
With respect to self-awareness, security aides and maintaining vigilance, the DSS urges VIPs to be cautious of their self-worth, remain sensitive about their area and surroundings and also try to see things from the angle of their security intels. The DSS warns that revealing personal details on social media should be a ‘no-go-area’. They also discourage the practice of taking a specific route on a daily basis because these miscreants do not strke suddenly, they study and track the movemnet routines of a potential target. Other important tips given include:
- Proper screening of employees before engagement;
- Installation of CCTV cameras;
- Keeping emergency numbers;
- Keeping financial transactions discret; and
- Maintaing a quiet lifestyle.
Coping mechanisms for victims and relatives
When a kidnap happens, both the victim and relatives bear the brunt and suffer the trauma. With respect to this, the DSS, in its book, shared some coping mechanisms for both victms and family member.
For the relatives of kidnap victim, they are to remain calm, keep their phones switched on at all times, make a verbal report to authorities, speak nicely to abductors when they call and limit giving information concerning investigations to everyone because an insider may be responsible for the crime.
As a coping mechanism, the DSS, while noting that it is important to track of every information concerning the incident, advise hostages to always stay clam and not proke the kidnappers in order to stay alive.
Information needed by DSS to help victims
As part of requirements to help rescue kidnap victims, the DSS will require informations like name; date of birth; physical description; name, place, date and time of incident, photograph, nationality and health status of the hostage.
Payment of ransom
While the DSS notes that paying ransom is a very critical decision for relatives of kidnap victims to make, they have a policy of not paying ransom to abductors.
Tips to help a child victim
The DSS warns that proper care should be given to victims who are children. This is because children respond differently to traumatic stress with many of them exhibiting a total change in behavioural patterns especially if a trusted person perpetrated the act. To help victims in this category, professionalism is needed to handle cases of post traumatic stress disorder.