Kidnapping booming in Nigeria as firm reports $18m in ransom payments in past 10 years

Kidnapping booming in Nigeria as firm reports $18m in ransom payments in past 10 years

The menace of kidnapping has gradually transmuted into a booming enterprise in Nigeria as a result of payment of ransoms to the criminals due to the nonchalance of the security agencies.

This payment of ransom for kidnapping was also confirmed via a report issued by SB Morgen (SBM) Intelligence, a Lagos-based political risk analysis firm on Friday, May 14.

SBM revealed that at least $18.34m was paid to kidnappers as ransom – mostly by families and the government – between June 2011 and March 2020.

“The motivation of these groups appears to be purely economic,” Ikemesit Effiong, head of research at SBM, told Al Jazeera and the BBC.

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“They don’t seem political. The high rate of poverty in this country has led many to resort to such criminal activities for economic survival.”

Since December 2020, gangs of bandits sought lucrative ransoms after kidnapping a total of 769 students from their boarding schools; and other educational facilities across northern Nigeria in at least five separate incidents.

The region has long been afflicted by violence fuelled by disputes over access to land and resources, among other factors. Criminal gangs have taken advantage of the lack of effective policing to launch attacks; pillaging villages; stealing cattle; and spreading fear.

But with climate change affecting livestock in the arid north and herdsmen migrating down south in search of pasture and water; these groups – believed to largely be comprised of Fulani pastoralists; who collaborate with other nomadic tribes – have recently turned to mass abductions for financial gains.

In the Kagara case, authorities did not disclose if a ransom was paid for the abductees’ release. However, experts agree that the growing instances of mass abductions of boys and girls in the region; are an offshoot of a booming kidnapping-for-ransom criminal enterprise that has become one of Nigeria’s main security challenges.

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