By Bankole Wright
Lawmakers in the country have reportedly stopped the use of official number plates on their vehicles over fear of kidnapping and murder, Punch reports.
This comes after a lawmaker from Kano State, Garba Umar-Durbunde, was kidnapped by gunmen along the Abuja-Kaduna Road, after which he reportedly paid N10m ransom to secure his freedom.
An aide to Senator Jonah Jang was also killed by kidnappers last weekend in an attempt to abduct the former governor.
A member of the House of Representatives told the online news portal that it was no more prestigious to use official plate numbers because of the level of insecurity in the country.
He said, “Look around, how many members do you see using their number plates with ‘Rep’ boldly written and displayed?
“Before now, it was fashionable to do so. The number plates could open the way for you because it identified you as a VIP; but not anymore because of security concerns.
“These days, people do not want to be identified as lawmakers. When a member uses the official number plate, you will find out that it will be covered.
“Covering the plates ordinarily means that they are not riding in the vehicles, but the truth is that they are there in them.
“Generally, they want to keep a low profile. Some prefer that they are not noticed at all than for them to be noticed with a retinue of policemen, which draws attention.”
Another said some of his colleagues have stopped using plate numbers saying, “everyone is being careful not to draw attention to themselves because kidnapping is on the increase and you can’t know who is good and who is planning evil.”
Senator representing Oyo South Senatorial District, Adesoji Akanbi said he has stopped going on road trips except it is unavoidable.
He said, “I believe that it is the duty of the government to protect lives and properties. Either as a lawmaker or not, the government owes you that duty. But being a lawmaker exposes you to such people (criminals) more and I believe that the onus is on all of us (lawmakers) to take our security seriously.
“Someone like me did not believe in going around with persons for security but right now, I have to start thinking about it. I didn’t believe that there was the need to move about with security detail, the reason being that I am loved in my constituency and connected with them.
“But it is getting beyond that now and we now have to take our security seriously. The law enforcement agencies must also support us lawmakers.”
He added, “Of course, road travels have disappeared on my radar especially now that the airports are operating. It is now suicidal to go on road trips unless something urgent happens and there are no flights.”
Senator Danjuma La’ah of the Peoples Democratic Party, Kaduna South added that he was jittery and doesn’t feel safe.
He said, “Certainly, I am jittery. As a matter of fact, I am not safe, not to mention the fact that there are other people too. If I could have security at my own end, all other persons should have security as well. The security in my constituency is not enough. The policemen and soldiers (deployed in the area) are not doing well, I must confess.
“It is a difficult situation and we are trying to find a solution to it; that is why we are calling for the creation of vigilante groups. If we continue to rely on policemen and soldiers; honestly, at the end of the day, somebody will come and pick us up from our homes, butcher us and kill our families. The earlier we find a solution to it, the better.”
Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, PDP, Abia North, said reducing public exposure and road trips has been his strategy.
Ohuabunwa said, “Definitely, one has to protect himself. One is now more cautious where one goes, how one moves and at what time. It is not just about the security apparatus or law enforcement agents or gun wielding security men; one must also apply some measures to help oneself. These include reducing road trips and (public) exposure.”