Perception of Religious Communities in Nigeria to Payment of Ransom to Kidnapers
The main objective of the research is to examine the perception of religious communities towards ransom payment to kidnapping and the specific objectives are:
- To ascertain the causes of kidnapping, without losing sight of its origins.
- To examine the types and resultant consequences of kidnapping
- To determine the relationship between religion and crime in general.
- To ascertain the role of the church as a religious organisation in tackling kidnapping as a social problem.
- To make recommendations that could influence policies, utilizing bricks of religious resource and legitimacy in the amelioration of kidnapping in our society.
Meaning and Types of Kidnapping
The phenomenon of kidnapping has taken an alarming dimension in Nigeria, such that it has become a big business. It therefore becomes necessary to look at the meaning at the meaning of kidnapping, identify some scholarly definitions and possible types or forms of kidnapping.
The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary 6th edition defines kidnapping as the act of taking somebody away illegally and keeping them as a prisoner, especially in order to get money or something else for returning them.
Hakeem Jamiu (Media wikipedia) defines the term thus: It refers to forceful abduction of a human being with the intention to hold them for ransom, or seize them away for the motive of harassment (physically or mentally or sexually), taking them hostage and various other motives. It is done by the way of taking the kidnapped person to a place where they are unlikely to be found and is unlikely to be released till abductors demands are satisfied.
In a related development, Ukwu Elems, a US trained lawyer in a paper presented as part of the end of year programme of the league of friends of Akwa-Ibom State in Port Harcourt saw kidnapping as the unlawful act of capturing and carrying away persons against their will and holding them in false imprisonment.
Kidnapping has become a second criminal problem in Nigeria especially in the south-south and south-east geo-political regions of this country.
In criminal law however, kidnapping is the taking away or transportation of a person against the person’s will, usually to hold the person in false imprisonment, a confinement without legal authority. This may be done for ransom or in furtherance of another crime, or in connection with a child’s custody dispute.
In modern usage, kidnapping or abduction of a child is often called child stealing or parental kidnapping particularly when done not to collect a ransom but rather with the intention of keeping the child permanently.
Kidnapping in which ever form has become a common occurrence in various parts of the world today and certain cities and countries are often described as the kidnapping capital of the world. Although, statistics are harder to come by, reports suggest that Nigeria has the highest rate of kidnapping cases especially since the wake of the agitation by the people of the rich oil Niger Delta region.
Kidnapping of people in the Niger Delta, is now a daily occurrence especially that which involves expatriates, women and children and has been identified as a source of restiveness and the eventual breakdown of law and order. Kidnapping of expatriates in the Niger Delta is one of the major weapons employed by the various ethnic militias operating in the area. It’s extension to children of prominent citizens in the area has however cost the habitants the sympathy of Nigerian as it is now obvious that the Niger Delta struggle has been bastardized.
The spread of kidnapping to other parts of the country is believed to be a fall out of the military confrontation between the militants and the federal government. The militants who were dislodged from the Niger Delta bases like Gbaramatu kingdom etc; were forced to relocate to other areas where they have continued their trade of kidnapping as a means of survival.
The other probable groups of kidnappers are those who, though not militants, believe that kidnapping pays with minimum risk of being caught. This second group follows the general trend of Nigerians who like to go into any business that they consider lucrative at the moment, not minding if such would endure or not. The signs are ominous; as we are approaching a situation where wives who would went to fleece their husbands of their hard-earned money could organize their own kidnapping and share the loot with the kidnappers. Husbands may also do so if their wives are rich. Wayward children could also do this to their rich dads. Employees may do it to get money from their companies. Politicians may also do it to raise money. The reason for this is simply that the chances of apprehending kidnappers by the law enforcement officers are very remote, so it encourages the trade. In any case, it is still part of the symptoms of a failed state.
ISLAMIC INJUNCTION ON KIDNAPPING/ABDUCTION
No doubt, Sympathy is a noble act. It is for this reason that Islam exhorts the Muslims to adopt a sympathetic attitude and approach, not only towards human beings but also to other creatures, i.e. animals, plants, etc. It is also regarded by Islam as sheer injustice to allow criminals to wreak havoc and play with the life and honour of innocent people and make them victims of their highhandedness. It is then incumbent upon the state to ensure free movements, grant full security and protection to its law- abiding citizens so that they live in peace. It is for this reason that Islam prescribes the severest punishment for those who commit heinous crimes such as kidnapping/abduction or highway armed robbery as deterrent to others. Those engaged in this crimes kill innocent persons with unspeakable tortures for no fault of theirs and collect huge amount of money directly or indirectly. Such heartless and treacherous persons hardly deserve any leniency since they not only subvert to commit heinous crimes.
Maliki School defines Hiraba which is the similar offence as:
A criminal act by a person or persons who obstructs the highway or any other place by causing disorder among the community or by attacking people with the intention of appropriating their property by the use of force in a situation where the victim(s) is are unable to defend himself/themselves or get immediate help. It makes no different whether such a person has killed people or not and whether he is known or famous for that same act or not. (al-Amin: 155)
The extreme severity of the punishment prescribed by the Qur’an and the Sunnah would be well understood if one bears the enormity of the crime which these people commit in mind, Allah the Almighty said:
RANSOM, LAWFUL OR UNLAWFUL ANALOGY
In the Jurisprudence Qiyas is the process of deductive analogy in which the teachings of the Hadith are compared and contrasted with those of the Qur’an, in order to apply a known injunction (nass) to a new circumstance and create a new injunction. (Doi: 70). Here the ruling of Sunnah and the Qur’an may be used as a means to solve or provide a response to a new problem that may arise. This, however, is only the case providing that the set precedent or paradigm and the new problem that come about will share operative causes (illah). The illah is the specific set circumstances that trigger a certain law into action. (Doi: 70).
- Fatawa or discretion should always be in the light of the teaching of Qur’an, Sunnah, Salaf and consensus of Muslim
- Ransom for kidnapping and abduction is lawful if government failed to rescue the
- Muslim scholars should stick to their areas of specialty and always encourage professionalism than intruding and trespassing. Ibn Hajar said: “whoever talks in an area different from his area, would come with ” (Ibn Qayyim) Therefore, even if the fatawa may be truth, there may be possibility of mistakes and lack of actual application and methodology.
- Preaching regulation should be encouraged and enforced by all tiers of Government through the empowerment of highest religious bodies in Nigeria by the constituted
- Government should enforce security to all and sundry being the cardinal responsibility of governance, all criminals guilty of criminality should be punished without fear or favor, such would serve as deterrent to The shari’ah submission and penalty to kidnapping and abduction is the best punishment for such crimes, therefore should be adopted
- No dividend of democracy can be achieved without security therefore, security should be sold responsibility for all citizens with the collaboration of the security
The research established the existence and acceptability of discretion and analogical deduction wherever the need arises to solve current and burning arousing matters that have no clear solution from the Qur’an and the Hadith. Every knowledgeable scholar has right to give fatawa whenever the need arises though these fatawas should be regulated and should come from professional Islamic scholars whilst safeguarding the lives and security of Muslims being the sole and cardinal responsibility and intention of Shari’ah.
The research also highlighted the methodology and rules for the application of analogy whilst carrying the task and frowned at the ill minded, itinerant and ignorant clerics who championed the responsibility of teaching the community not to give fatawa and solution to Islamic arousing and current realities which will amount to endangering their lives or death.
Finally, ransom for kidnapping and abduction is obtainable if the security agents failed to protect the lives and properties of the citizens and can never be unlawful.
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