• Business - Companies
  • Updated: January 22, 2024

Experts accuse banks of encouraging kidnapping epidemic

Experts accuse banks of encouraging kidnapping epidemic

Security experts have accused commercial banks of encouraging the kidnapping epidemic in the country, as some ransoms are paid into bank accounts.

The experts also noted that abductions had become an industry enabled by the financial institutions that received ransoms and, therefore, advised President Bola Tinubu and security to end the epidemic.

Previously restricted to the North-West, abductions have in recent times spread to other parts of the country, including Lagos, Ogun, Nasarawa, and Delta states, as well as the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Recently, several incidents of kidnappings have been reported in the FCT, with over 25 persons taken away by suspected bandits who demanded huge ransoms for their release.

Speaking on the complicity of banks in the growth of the abduction business, the Managing Director of Beacon Consulting, Adamu Kabiru, affirmed that banks are involved in collecting ransoms.

Speaking in an interview on TVC, the security and risk consultant categorically stated that two banks were involved in two kidnap-for-ransom cases, which he was aware of.

He said, “I will shock you today to tell you that in almost all the cases where my company was involved, the money was collected through our banking system, and I say this with a sense of responsibility. In almost all, it was only in very few circumstances that cash was collected and taken to these guys (kidnappers).

“They are so brave and bold that they provide account numbers. Two banks are guilty, and because this is a public forum, I will not mention the banks’ names.

“But of course, if the security agencies are interested and they listen to this, I will be happy to provide it to them if they don’t already know.”

He urged the financial regulators to live up to their billing by ensuring the ‘Know Your Customer’ policy is effectively implemented by banks.

Adamu said, “So, even our financial regulators have a responsibility to ensure that banks play the Know Your Customers element very well.

"If they play that KYC element very well, it will be very easy, for instance, to descend on those account numbers and, of course, arrest whoever is the holder of that account. But as of today, that has not been done.”

The former intelligence officer noted that the Money Laundering Prohibition and Prevention Act 2022 prohibits individuals and corporate bodies from paying or receiving cash payments exceeding N5m and N10m, respectively.

Corroborating Adamu’s position, a retired Commissioner of Police, Emmanuel Ojukwu, hinted that the banks might be complicit in the kidnapping business.

Ojukwu said, “Crowd-funding for ransom payment has been hyped. It is not a pleasant solution; it sort of reinforces the crime. The banks are probably involved in all of this, for how do such funds get pooled, and where do they end?

“Bank customers have been finding it tough to get cash for their transactions, how come millions are being sourced for kidnappers?

“I suppose that banks and NFIU should begin to ask questions on how these funds are trafficked and where they end up. There is technology to track such funds.’’

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