Worried by the growing spate of kidnapping in the country, the Background Check International organized a seminar recently to educate Nigerians on how to avert it. Nwakaego Ohaegbulam in this report highlights solutions proffered
Recently, the media came alive with news of a nanny who kidnapped three of her employer’s children barely 24 hours after she resumed work. The nanny who gave her name as Mary Akinloye, was employed by the Orekoya family after placing an advertorial on an online sales portal, OLX with an agreement of N10,000 to N15,000 as monthly salary.
Before agreeing to meet for a physical interaction, the mother of the children, Mrs. Adebisi Orekoya, had over the phone, asked the lady her age which Mary gave as 23 while claiming to be an indigene of Ibadan in Oyo State. When they met on the 7th of March, Adebisi said she was a bit skeptical when she noticed that the lady was a lot older than 23 but she gave in when she observed how her children took to the lady. Moreover, the lady did an impressive work on the first day. Adebisi said she asked for the telephone number of the lady’s relatives with a plan to meet them over the weekend and ‘Mary’ gave her the telephone number of a man and a woman whom she actually spoke to.
Unknown to her, the ‘relatives’ were all a part of a kidnap syndicate and she (Adebisi) was the fourth woman that they had spoken to on the said day she placed the ad on OLX. Following investigations, Adebisi was made to understand that ‘Mary’ whose real name is Funmilola Adeyemi was working with her younger brother’s wife who actually was the one who surfed the net for adverts, her mother and her brother who are presently on the run.
Luckily, with the intervention of well meaning Nigerians and the police, the children have been returned safe to their parents while Mary Akinloye (Funmilola Adeyemi) is cooling off in police custody. While recounting the experience to journalists, the father of the boys Adeleke Orekoya, absolved OLX of any blame pointing out that “we ought to have done a thorough check before we finally accommodated her. My advice to parents is that they should devote more time to their children and concentrate less on their work. As a family, we are trying to see if their mother can revert to a full time wife to be closer to the children.”
Taking a cue from the Orekoya experience, Kola Olugbodi, the CEO Background Check International, organized a one-day seminar with the theme ‘Averting the rising spate of child kidnapping in Nigeria’ with an aim to create a national awareness and sensitization on the need to conduct thorough background checks on those allowed into the home while enlightening the public on the causes, effects and future implications of kidnapping in society. It would also arm parents with the information needed to help them prevent their children from falling victims to kidnappers.
Olugbodi while speaking on social media recruitment, pointed out that domestic helps could be sourced through any means but that it is very important to know the person’s background, experience, record of previous employer (s). He pleaded with parents and especially mothers not to be in a haste to bring strangers into their homes as helps or nannies because such desperation can put them off guard and make them fall easy prey to often crafty kidnappers.
In her contribution, Mrs. Ayoleyi, a discussant at the seminar, said that as a working parent, it could be difficult coping without the support of a help.
Adding her voice, another discussant Mrs. Mary Ikoku, publisher, Working Moms Africa Magazine, said that house-helps are a necessity and advised all mothers to take up every support they can in the course of raising their children. According to her “kidnappers are not necessarily strangers. Some of them are relatives and close friends who could become a tag team to kidnap. Background check therefore cuts across board including relations who have traits showing that they can actually molest children. Mothers should learn to go with their maternal instincts when they get intuitions about certain individuals. Sadly, a lot of mothers have outsourced parenting to the nannies and it is this motherly absence that has given rise to what we are seeing in society today. While it is good to teach children not to talk to or take things from strangers, it is important for them to be made aware of their environment. Children have the right to know that they have the right to scream and bite when kidnapped; they also need to know that kidnapping could be done by anybody at anywhere.” She added that Television was another intruder in the home which many parents neglect. This is because there are a lot of illicit content that are easily accessed by the children with or without the consent of their parents.
Speaking on the security measures to adopt in a bid to avoid falling prey to kidnappers, a retired Deputy-Director of the State Security Services, SSS, Mr. Aderoju lamented that Nigerian government had not done anything to amend laws inherited from the colonial masters with regards to kidnapping. He added that all elsewhere in the world where kidnap cases were recorded, the government provided well trained and well equipped specialized agents to respond to such cases. He pleaded with the public to exercise patience with the police on the mandatory 24-hour observance on every reported kidnap or missing person case. While applauding the Anambra State government for passing a law stipulating asset forfeiture and death for kidnap perpetrators; he said that no country has been able to stop the menace.
Aderoju said “Kidnapping ranks second after drug in the profitability scale with reasons for its increase identified as greed and corruption. Victims suffer rape, psychological torture as a result they lose the trust they have on society meanwhile experts say it could take a life time for victims to fully recover.”
A near end to kidnapping is not in sight yet but at the seminar, tangible solutions were proffered.
Mr. Aderoju identified two key perspectives to eradicating kidnapping as the government and the individual. He went ahead to suggest that government could raise its policies on employment, social challenges, poverty eradication, corruption, greed, creation of a viable economy and the enactment of a strong legislation. He called for continued enlightenment campaigns to raise security education and awareness on kidnapping and urged members of the public to substitute the names of relatives and friends while saving them on their phones.
On her part, Mrs. Ikoku urged parents not to leave their children in the care of an unaccompanied driver to pick them up from school. She also pleaded for people to treat their nannies well because the way one treats one’s help reflects to a large extent on how they relate with the individual. She harped on the need to seek God’s consent in prayers before hiring a help and insisted that one ought to be patient to carry out a background check on the employee before bringing them into the home to commence work.
Kola Olugbodi encouraged participants and the public to speak up when they receive calls from a suspicious number, avail themselves of the services of tracking devices, reduce the rate at which they expose information about themselves on the social media. Furthermore, he said that in educating one’s children it is important to tell them why you want them to do certain things and called on parents to have a change in attitude by reducing alienation as is being experienced now in society where everybody minds his or her business.
In his own contribution, the Chairman of BCI, Mr. Tunji Olugbodi urged parents to make use of the crèche nearest to them, and if they must employ the services of a nanny, they carry out a proper background check on the person to if for nothing else, find out their medical and security history.
Background Check International, BCI was incorporated in July 14, 2004 as the arrowhead of the background check industry in Nigeria that specializes in full service background checks, employment screening, claims verification, risk assessment and management, vital documents verification and investigative due diligence services. Clients are charged based on the briefs presented for basic, standard or advanced checks. The response deadline for basic background checks is usually five days.