Nigeria: Halt the Booming Kidnap Industry

Even as this country’s government and security agencies struggle to bring to an end the murderous Boko Haram insurgency, they must urgently grapple with another security problem that threatens to become as debilitating as terrorism. This is kidnapping, which in recent times has developed into an industry in Nigeria.

The recent abduction of former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and former Finance Minister Chief Olu Falae helped to concentrate public attention on this growing menace. He was taken from his farm by people described as herdsmen and kept for four days, where he said he slept on the bare floor and was fed with bread and soft drink. Apart from Falae, recent high-profile incidents include the kidnappings of prominent newspaper columnist Donu Kogbara, as well as the wife of Sun’s deputy managing director, Mrs Nwosu.

Already, Nigeria has shot to the top in the league of countries where people are kidnapped and held until a ransom is paid, ahead of such former champion as Columbia, Mexico and The Philippines. A report by Hiscox Group said only one case of kidnap was recorded in Nigeria in 1992 and there were few reported cases for most of the 1990s. However, kidnapping blossomed in the Niger Delta region in 1999-2007 when militant groups seized oil workers for ransom. While kidnap incidents in the Niger Delta eased with the amnesty program of 2008, it suddenly flared up in the South East region some years ago. Abia, Imo and other states became such hotbeds of kidnap that there were reported cases almost every day.

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