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Reps urge panel to ensure release of kidnap victims

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The House of Representatives has urged the executive arm of the Federal Government of Nigeria to urgently set up a high-power inter-agency panel to coordinate efforts for the release of citizens in custody of bandits and terrorists across the country.
The team, if in place is expected to also offer help to families of kidnapped persons in accordance with best global practices.

It further called on President Muhammadu Buhari to do all within his powers to expedite action to secure the release of the remaining Nigerians kidnapped in the Abuja-Kaduna train attack, and all other Nigerians held in hostage by bandits and terrorists across the country.

Abductors of passengers of the Kaduna-Abuja bound train, had weekend released 11 out the remaining 51 persons held hostage.

The House pass the resolution Thursday, following a motion sponsored under matters of urgent public importance by Bamidele Salam and 10 other of his colleagues, calling for more efforts to secure the freedom of the remaining passengers, as well as others held captive across the country.

Citing Section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 constitution (as amended), the lawmakers recalled “that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”

“In the last 10 years, terrorism, banditry, kidnappings and other forms of violent crimes have become a raging security epidemic in different parts of the country”, Salam who moved the motion stated.

He added that the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), said since 2018, there has been a rapid increase in kidnapping, with a rise from 987 victims in 2018 to 1,395 in 2019″.

He said the figure of kidnapped persons increased to 2,865 in 2020 and 5,287 in 2021, while in this year, over 100 cases have been reported.

He expressed worries that over 70 % of victims of kidnappings are children, women and elderly persons who were violently attacked and captured by criminals in the normal course of their daily activities on the farms, villages, roads, worship centers and other places.

“A large number of these kidnapped citizens have remained in captivity for so many years, months and days without any form of sustained help to secure their release or any social, medical or economic support to their grieving family members by government,” he said.