Police warns against crowdfunding for ransom

THE Nigerian Police Force (NPF) has warned citizens against crowdfunding for ransom, especially on social media.

Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Delta State Police Command Bright Edafe, in a post via his official X handle on Friday, January 2, described it as criminal and warned Nigerians against the practice.

“Crowdfunding for ransom payment is criminal. It’s dangerous and should not be encouraged. Let’s stop making kidnapping a thriving and lucrative business in Nigeria. This tweet is deeper than you think. It’s not about dragging me or the Police. We seriously need to discourage this,” Edafe posted.

The Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO) of the NPF at its headquarters in Abuja, Muyiwa Adejobi, also said the practice undermined security and contributed to the abduction spree in the country.

In an interview with Channels TV on Thursday, February 1, Adejobi pointed out that ransom payment was a crime in Nigeria.

“The problem we have is that families of victims in most cases don’t carry security operatives along. They get scared because kidnappers always work on their psyche, ‘don’t tell security agents, don’t tell the police, if you do, we are going to kill your relations.’

“It got to a stage where somebody did crowdfunding on social media; this will not help us in any way. It is criminal. It is not allowed. It is condemned. Even the Federal Government condemned it. Crowdfunding is not allowed. How can you come on social media and tell people to gather money to rescue victims? It kills our morale; it kills the system. We should not encourage that. The more we encourage ransom payment, the more it makes that dirty business lucrative,” he said.

    In 2022, the Nigerian Senate passed a bill that criminalises ransom payment and punishes it with 15 years’ imprisonment.

    While Adejobi said many Nigerians were not cooperating with security operatives, The ICIR reported that the police officials, especially those in Northern Nigeria, failed to investigate or trail abductors after a ransom had been paid, even after being provided with phone numbers of the abductors by affected parties.

    The abduction epidemic has hit Nigeria despite billions of naira spent on linking SIM cards with National Identification Numbers (NIN) between 2021 and 2022 and assurance by Minister of Communication and Digital Economy at the time, Isa Pantami, that the cumbersome process would curb terrorism and abduction in Nigeria.

    Years after introducing the NIN-SIM linkage, Pantami announced his interest in crowdfunding for the ransom payment of six sisters who were abducted within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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