Mike Ejiofor, a former Director of the Department of State Services (DSS), revealed his shift in perspective on ransom payments after experiencing firsthand the trauma of kidnapping. Ejiofor, who once discouraged families from paying ransoms, spoke out in response to the recent wave of violence targeting traditional rulers in Ekiti and Kwara states.
In an interview with Vanguard, Ejiofor expressed his concerns over the escalating frequency of kidnappings across Nigeria. He emphasized that while the menace of kidnapping could still be tackled, the lack of adequate resources poses a significant obstacle to addressing the underlying insecurity.
He said, “It (insecurity) is not out of control but people are worried. I am worried. The issue is that we have not deployed sufficient resources to tackle the problem.”
“No one should be blaming the government now because this issue has been festering for a long time. The largest we have in the budget is for the security sub-sector.
“There should be proper oversight to ensure the funds are properly deployed. We have to ensure the monies are not diverted by the leadership of security agencies. They shouldn’t live luxurious lifestyles.
“Before I became a victim, I had often said people shouldn’t pay ransom. But that notion changed after I became a victim. He who feels it knows it. Unless you are not involved, you will do everything possible including payment of ransom to release your relative.
“Of course, government will always discourage people from paying ransom. For me, I believe in the saying that he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day. If you secure yourself, if government cannot secure you, that’s fine.
“Another option could have been for the government to supervise the payment of ransom to get information. But victims do not cooperate with police.”
The ex-DSS boss said the economic hardship in the country is pushing people into kidnapping innocent Nigerians for ransom.
“They now see it as an industry. Everybody is getting involved because of economic hardship. The economy is partly responsible for the escalation of criminality.”
“People are suffering. You can’t attack people’s houses and see cash. You can’t break into a shop to collect things because you will be arrested. The quickest way to make money now is through payment of ransom.”