The role of religious organization in combating kidnapping in Nigeria
The social context of religion is a theater for the positive powers of religion in human societies. Efforts from religious agents are a social reality with pragmatic effects that emanates from a genuine human response drawing inspiration from the divine. Religion in its essential nature is one of the most powerful and influential forces in organized human society. Although, the religious resource can be manipulated to negatively serve the interest of some nefarious human agents, yet it has engendered enormous good in the social space. Hence, the researcher’s focus is on the positive and humanitarian impact and how it has motivated many to action and had shaped modes of relationship among peoples. An example can be drawn from among the five basic institutions for societal survival; the Family, Economy, Religion, Education and Polity, the religious institution stands out as one among the basic three structures that cannot be dispensed with as it is an infrastructure to society. That religion is a social fact propelled is what Obilor (1998:29) quips that, “it is not possible for the human race to survive without the religious dimension as this will lead to anarchy and confusion in human relationship and societal cohesion”.
Religion has a number of dimensions and its impact are far reaching on society ranging from its influence on culture; it can be seen physically in our buildings, rituals and actions and intangibly in our norms, values, expectations and thoughts that provoke our actions (Ford, 2009). Ford enthused that religion had been around well before the foundations of our current societal structures were formed. That economic kidnapping which is the basic form of violent crime that has bedeviled Abia state is a well organized crime that works with organization, structures and even a sort of network that often balance the risk of detection, prosecution and detention against the chance for their success. It therefore, follows that for any meaningful attempt to abate the upsurge a mode of intervention on the various loop holes on the system would be an ad rem.
The religious sector owing to its large network and moral authority as well as a normative structure from which it operates, is of enormous relevance for intervention in the kidnapping and other violent crimes challenges in Abia state, as the employment of brute force and the attempt to control crimes through the barrels of the gun by the combine Joint Military Taskforce (JTF), the Police force, State Security Service (SSS) and other allied security operatives in the state has not been able to ‘‘exorcise the spirit of kidnapping’’ among youths in the state, hence, the need to introduce an alternative approach with a normative structure. Religion provides supernatural sanctions to the relationship between individuals and groups in society in form of social norm to control group behaviour. Madu (1996) sees these social norms that hold society together as acquiring their binding sense,
norms of sacredness from religion and that they are preserved, obeyed and transmitted from one fore-bearer to new generations.
The religious legitimacy is strategically and unequivocally unique, as its institutionalized model of behaviour and a functional ethics for the proper and smote running of the Nigerian society especially in Abia state. Despite all these, religion does not work or succeed alone as a vacuum in the social context because on its own it cannot create peace except in interplay with other forces. No wonder, Ezeme (2006) observed that the Christian church is neither police nor army; it can only boast of her moral force, that the church does its work through teaching and mass mobilization. Thus, without true religious perception it will be difficult to eradicate crime in any society (Adewale, 1994).