A clear and present danger exists in the homes of busy Lagos entrepreneurs (and busy professionals) where both parents are forced to work hard daily, and leave their children and wards in the care of hired help.
Typically, it was the case in Lagos that fathers went out to work while mothers stayed home to man the homefront. With the harsh economic realities faced by most families in Lagos however, mothers have been forced to engage in some economic activity or the other to augment the family’s income.
This was the situation in the home of the Emekas of Ajegunle where the lady of the house ran a hairdressing salon and had to take her children aged 2 and 5 with her to work daily.
To help with the work, Mrs. Emeka hired an apprentice, who as is usually the case, was expected to learn the job while running work and domestic errands for her boss. An apprentice usually grows quickly to become a trusted ally until she earns her ‘freedom’.
In this situation however, Mrs. Emeka’s apprentice had no intention of waiting to be freed and instead kidnapped her boss’s 2 young children within a few days of her employment. This incident happened only a few days ago and the children are yet to be found.
There is an unfortunate pattern to cases of kidnap in Lagos:
Where the victim-families are considered well-off, a hefty ransom is usually demanded for the return of the children.
In low income areas like Ajegunle however, abducted children are usually sold to ritualists or to child traffickers.
The picture is painted stark to better analyse one of the biggest fears every working parent in Lagos has to deal with daily – the possibility of kidnap…which in virtually every case involves an insider accomplice.
What is the cause of this evil? Poverty. Poverty of the mind, poverty of the pocket. The solution therefore is straightforward: a turnaround in the economy should reduce the incidence of kidnap. In truth however, it is not so simple – economic turnarounds take time to trickle. Also, an already perverted mind does not change course quite so easily.
A more effective, shorter term solution lies in better policing, and better utilisation of existing technology – the mobile phone.
Kidnappers never work alone and must communicate invariably by telephone. If the NCC-imposed SIM card registration was better enforced, then the police could solve a large percentage of abduction cases by simply following the trail of communication of the suspects.
Sadly, the SIM registration exercise was shabbily done, with no form of address verification carried out, and in many instances, no identity verification either.
The BVN (bank verification number) exercise on the other hand was much better effected by banks. Unfortunately, a significant number of lower class Lagosians have managed to remain unbanked and so cannot be traced through the financial system.
Lagos professionals are therefore left at the mercy of hired help and can only pray that the staff to whom our children are exposed to are not overtaken by the evil which leads to child abductions.