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Nipping kidnapping in the bud through information technology

By Adedotun Ajayi

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In Nigeria today, Kidnapping is seen as a lucrative business and the shortest means to wealth by those involved in the crime. The rising spate of abductions across the country makes every person a potential target regardless of social class or economic status.

Kidnapping is abducting and holding anybody captive, typically to obtain a ransom. Kidnapping for ransom thrives in Nigeria because the material incentive and opportunity are there, and victims find it expedient to pay ransom.

Kidnapping has become a big challenge in Nigeria. There is no day in Nigeria when we do not read on the pages of newspapers about cases of kidnapping.

There are many celebrated cases of kidnapping in Nigeria, like the unforgettable kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls, where over 200 girls were abducted in Borno state on April 14, 2014 while many others goes unreported by the media.

There was the Kankara school boys abduction which occurred on December 11, 2020, where over 800 students from the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina state were abducted. Also, in July 2021, about 140 students were kidnapped from a Baptist High School for ransom in Kaduna among many other kidnapped cases just to mention a few.

According to experts, the rising spate of insecurity in the nation needs a holistic approach if it is to be resolved as it is guaranteed to undermine the development of any society. No investor would be encouraged to establish business in an atmosphere fraught with danger.

According to them, telecommunication held tremendous potential to help security operatives in their search for kidnapped victims. They said almost everyone had telephones, and the situation could be leveraged to locate victims of kidnappings.

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The Nigerian Communications Commission stated that there were 306.31 million connected GSM lines in March 2022. Each of these lines are connected to owners, and experts have said those phones could serve as trackers, albeit with privacy risks.

A while ago, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, said security agencies had got approval from the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, to access the database of the National Identity Management Commission in the course of carrying out their duties.

He said, “Some of the security institutions, based on the cybercrime law, are allowed to gain access to the database without coming to us because the database allows for lawful intercept. That lawful intercept was allowed in order to support our security agencies.”

In 2021, leader of the Umbrella body of Yoruba Self-Determination Groups, Ilana Omo Oodua, Professor Banji Akintoye, unveiled a Mobile Application designed to track Kidnapped Victims and expose danger anywhere in Yoruba Land.

In a statement by his Communications Manager, Mr. Maxwell Adeleye, the Mobile Application and Alert System, named PAJAWIRI is said to be able expose criminal elements wherever they are with their victims once the victims have the application installed in their phones either on or off.

The Security System also has another system called AFINIHAN that can be used by those without android phones to link up with those with the full application.

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony held in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, Akintoye, who joined the event virtually, said the emergence of PAJAWIRI is an evidence that the Yoruba people are too intellectually sophisticated to be subdued.

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He said “We have now proven to the world that we cannot be captured nor be subdued. We are too intellectually sophisticated to be subdued.

“It is these Innovations and intellectual powers that we will deploy to get ourselves out of the quagmires of Nigeria”.

“Every person in possession of the Pajawiri app on their telephone, will be able to activate the APP instantly, whenever they find themselves in danger. By activating the app, they will be able to alert their families, their friends and their neighbors that they are in danger and that they need help.

“In that way, no Yoruba person needs to be alone anywhere on their farms, schools, market places, shops and anywhere else. Any person who finds himself threatened by danger and who is in possession of Pajawiri will be able to alert other persons for help.

“In short, Yoruba people today, are able now to enjoy security individually and collectively through the use of the APP .

According to a security expert, Omooba Olatunji, tracking kidnapped victims technologically is very possible, noting that it also comes with a challenge, he said

“When it comes to privacy, network provider don’t bridge their policy no matter what, one cannot go ahead and begin to do it because you need the approval of the network providers. And the network providers will not listen to you until the security agencies apply to the court. Without the court, this is just a case of privacy infringement, before getting court approval in a country like Nigeria, it takes a rigorous process and people’s lives are in danger in the hands of these kidnappers. If the network providers can give security agencies free access to information without court order to gain access to private data, it would go a long way” he said

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Another security expert who preferred anonymity, said kidnappers make videos of their victims and upload it on the internet, this won’t be possible without a network, that means tracking is possible, the Internet is a prime example of how kidnappers can behave in a truly transnational way; in response, our government needs to think and function in an equally transnational manner, free access should be given to security agencies to carry out their operations, he added

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