News Update

The Season is Over

By Jude Atupulazi

If you are not an apostle, what I’m about to delve into will have such an effect on you as speaking Greek to an Mgbakwu wine tapper will have on him. But still, today’s topic concerns you in a way. It concerns you because it has become the singular most unifying factor in a vastly polarized Nigeria. It is something that has since transformed into a religion. The name is football.

Indeed, it is only football that will make a Boko Haram bomber embrace a potential victim in the heat of passion. When Nigeria plays and a goal is scored by Nigeria, everybody around the place jumps for joy, hugging the nearest person and speaking one language. Victory is celebrated by all and defeat is mourned by all in equal measure. It is a game that has continually been winning new apostles every week; knowing not man, woman or child.

Last Sunday, Nigeria did not play but it was the end of the popular English Football Season which, nevertheless, had millions of soccer loving Nigerians scurrying to the nearest television sets. I was also part of the rush to watch the final day games. I have lately come to prefer watching games outside; either in hotel bars or at viewing centres. I had long found out that watching with others added to the excitement.

So last Sunday, I watched it at the premises of the popular Stamford Hotel in Awka. The whole venue was jam-packed. Vehicles took up every parking space, such that one could have mistaken it for the venue of a political event. But they were all united by the round leather game. They had all come to watch how their various teams would end the season.

Liverpool and Manchester City supporters wanted to know who between them, would end the season as champions. For Liverpool fans, they were anxious to know if the team would end their jinx of not winning the league since it became known as Premier League. Even though their team had made it to the final of the UEFA Champions League, beating mighty Barcelona in the semi-final, many of them still wanted a Premier League victory. But alas, their hopes were dashed when Man City, last season’s winners, won again by beating Brighton and Hove Albion 4-1 away. That result rendered whatever Liverpool would play useless.

For Chelsea fans, they came to see if the team could maintain their hard earned third spot over Tottenham. They did, after Tottenham drew at home with Everton and Chelsea drew away to Leicester.

For the once mighty Manchester United and Arsenal, it was yet another season of disappointment. While Arsenal still have a chance of playing in the Champions League if they beat Chelsea in the final of EUROPA, Man United are condemned to their fate of playing in the second rate EUROPA League next season. Not that they are total strangers there though, having won it last season.

The excitement of the English Football Season is such that makes adherents look forward to every weekend. No matter how tough a week is, when you remember that the weekend will bring some excitement through football, you immediately cheer up. But sadly, the season of football has ended in England and will also soon end in other European leagues. This means that weekends will be lonely, boring and uneventful. At such times, I often resort to reading books but that has always turned out not being enough.

Last Season, we were lucky that it was a world cup year and immediately the European Season ended, the world cup soon began. Thus, soccer fans had something to cheer. As soon as the world cup ended, the European pre-season friendlies began, before the league actions started again.

This season, we are also lucky that the Nations Cup will be coming up in June and the Nigerian national team, the Super Eagles, will be playing. This will at least keep football buffs busy and happy.

But even though we have that competition to look forward to, I’m already feeling lost. I can’t imagine what I will be doing between now and the little time I will start watching the Nations Cup games. It’s already becoming dry for me, but that’s the power of football.

This power has seen more and more women taking interest in Football. Even my wife who hated football before can now reel out the names of some clubs. She thus knows when certain clubs are playing by looking at their names on the screen even though they are abbreviated.
But as the countdown to the Nations Cup begins, the time between that and now is where the problem lies; not just for me alone, but for all football lovers.

Kidnapping: the Scourge Continues
Kidnapping is one issue in the country today that has refused to go. It started in the South South, moved to the South East where it blossomed, spiraled to the South West, until it finally nestled in the North where it is now raging like a wild fire.

Despite the best efforts of government to stem it, it has continued to increase in velocity, such that the Kaduna/Abuja Express Way has become the most dangerous place in the country today. Travelers are often kidnapped there and marched off into the bush and made to walk for several hours until they reach their destination where they are either released on payment of ransom or killed for failing to do so. The wonder is why the security agencies have failed to confront them head on, knowing where the kidnappers perpetrate their nefarious act.
Recently, however, the Federal Government had finally stirred and ordered the IG of Police to put an end to that menace in that place.

But let no one be deceived that kidnapping is only concentrated in the North these days. It is still very much everywhere. Just days ago we read how a group of Fulani men kidnapped someone in the Abba/Ukpo axis here in Anambra and marched the person to Kogi State through the bushes. Before then, two Catholic priests were kidnapped in Anambra North area.
In view of the danger posed by these people, it has become imperative that everyone learns how to comport themselves in the event of falling victim. Nothing better educates how to do such than a piece I stumbled into on social media credited to one Dr Omotoso SIB, which I have decided to share with you all. Here are the excerpts.

Sudden Death and Kidnapping
Kidnappers, modus operandi and the way forward.
Caveat: This is not an all or none law (opinion) on this subject matter.
Disclaimer. This write up is a random analysis based on observations, psychology of kidnappers, victims’ experiences, general profiling and attitudinal diagnosis. It is not targeted at anyone and therefore, no liability is inclined from misuse and unlawful broadcast without permission.

Groups recently implicated as kidnappers = Herdsmen
Target Population = Anyone, no age, political or religious barrier.
Primary gain = Obedience to hierarchical and expansionist tendency.
Secondary Gain = Financial: Money and Food.
Area of Action =
1. Highways 2. Interstate roads 3. Trunk B roads
Modes of Operation
1. The Spy/Syndicate System
2. The Collegiate system
3. The Crude-Brute Force System

1. The Spy System
Who are the spies??
A. Law enforcement agents. (The Bad Eggs) inclusive of Vigilantes.
B. Jobless Road Repairers
C. Busy bodies sitting at road junctions.
D. Road Side hawkers
Mechanism of Action.

Unauthorized peeping inside the car by any of those listed above to achieve any of the following:
1. Identify wealthy individuals
2. Identify the presence of armed guards
3. Rating of vehicles as a measure of wealth
4. Identification and Isolation of all vehicles with govt number plate as a MUST for kidnap, even if with the driver alone.

Means of achieving Actions by Spies:
1. Undue friendliness at contact with the bad eggs among security agents
2. Undue familiarity from road side hawkers and persistent hanging around vehicles even when there is no intention from road user to patronize them.
3. Unwarranted/unsolicited waving @ vehicles by unknown people at road junctions to gauge Drivers mood or see face clearly.
4. Presence and Fiddling with phone by one or all of these spies at contact.
5. Eventual call to Kidnappers in front for action.

The Collegiate System
In this case the kidnappers are of the same tribe working together at very short distance to each other.

Mechanism of Action: You suddenly see a man in front of you beside the road in an unexplained area, that is: an area leading to nowhere.
When you drive close to him and after sizing up your car from a distance he enters the bush again in your presence.

Please note that when you drive to the point of his disappearance into the bush, you can’t see any road leading to the bush.

By then he has called his colleagues who are at a very short distance away to effect the kidnapping.

Please note the moment you see this group of kidnappers in front, you have already walked into an ambush as some of them are already behind you.

Any reverse or attempt to escape = death.

The Crude Brute System
Latest entrants into the kidnappers’ strategy as seen with the Osun Prof of recent and those on Kaduna Abuja road.

These types are crude and very brutal. They are great risk takers. They care less about security agencies and their actions come with multiple casualties. They work alone and kidnap anyone they see, no matter how poor. They have no time to assess anyone.

They also kidnap in large number to increase their chances of great profit while collating ransoms on individual heads.

Mechanism of Action: They jump at any road of their choice at any time of the day and start shooting at the incoming traffic, no matter the speed.
They kill as many as those hit by bullets at random and carry away those who survive the wreck that ensued after the sporadic shooting.

Post Kidnapping behaviour and occurrences
After kidnapping, the kidnappers make everyone to understand that they are in serious business by doing any or all of the following:
1. Incessant Threat language at gun point. 2. Regular unforced slaps and kicks. 3. Removal of Shoes and slippers of victims to make them miserable while walking on sharp thorns, shrubs, e.t.c., to create injuries on their feet to ensure early soberness. 4. Walking in circles for hours to disorient the victims in terms of time and place and position.

The victims feel they have walked so far away from the point of kidnap while (actually) they are still close to the same point. They also cannot guess time accurately anymore. 5. Late initiation of negotiation until the victim is thoroughly sober and dying slowly. 6. Release after collection of ransom which is determined by physique, ID cards, ATM cards, Job papers/signs seen in the car or on the victims; e.g. Stethoscope. 7. Death.

Causes of Death in Kidnapping
This occurs rather too often in some cases from: 1. Exhaustion. 2. Ongoing medical ailments prior to kidnap with no available medication for days. 3. Snake bites and bites from other poisonous animals in the bush. 5. Dehydration and acute renal injury from lack of water and severe anxiety with over perspiration. 6. Haemorrhage from Multiple gang raping. 7. Gunshot from the kidnappers due to:
A. Attempt to stop incoming speeding traffic
B. Attempt to escape
C. Too weak victim who cannot move again.
D. Failed rescue operations by security agencies

Kidnappers Collecting Ransom after Death
Why do they still collect ransom after death?
The kidnappers see each operation as an investment and hence no matter what happens to the victim(s) they still want to maximize the gains of each operation.

Release of victim without collecting ransom
Yes, very possible. This is common in the spy system.
Where the spy calls them that they have kidnapped the wrong person or that the person kidnapped will generate too much heat and stress for them from the security agencies and the community.

Best way to handle kidnappers
1. Avoidance. 2. Avoidance. 3. Avoidance. 4. Once kidnapped you lose all control; if you attempt to escape, you get killed; if you don’t try to escape, you may STILL die. 5. Avoidance at all costs.