By Jiti Ogunye
In the Trans-Atlantic slave trade era, slave raiders, called “ipata” used to harvest people on footpaths and on farms in the Yoruba heartland. Their preferences were strapping young men and women and children. Successful, they moved their captives to the coastal settlements of Lagos and Badagry to be traded and shipped to the Americas.
Sadly, such a time has, again, arrived.
Armed bandits, including foreigners, are in the Yoruba forests, where they have apparently set up temporary camps. From these camps, they intermittently storm the highways and kidnap travelers, who they hold and only release in exchange for ransoms. They terrorize, defile and sometimes kill their victims.
Human beings are not being captured to be shipped to plantations in America, but human beings are being captured and traded like animals; and stolen and exchanged for money like articles of trade.
This has been happening in other parts of Nigeria. Now, that this phenomenon is moving closer and closer to the erstwhile slaves depot of Lagos, we must realize that we all face an existential threat.
When Fela sang his song, Movement against Second Slavery (MASS), he imagined that Africa was facing imminent re-enslavement through imperialism, and now globalization. He didn’t mean the actual return of the slave trade era .
Now, a new variant of the slave trade era is here. Banditry and kidnapping. An era in which both the living, and the dead can be kidnapped for ransom, as it was the case recently in Rivers State where a corpse was seized to force ransom payments.
There is an urgent need for a total reconfiguration of the internal security system in Nigeria. Peoples Police (police establishments for states, local government areas, cities, and qualified designated institutions) must be formed to co-exist with the unitary (not Federal) Nigeria Police Force.
We delay at our own peril.
Jiti Ogunye is a Nigerian Attorney based in Ikeja, Lagos State.