A report showed that Nigerians have paid N63.7M ransom between 2021 and 2022.
A report by SBM Intelligence, titled ‘The Economics of Nigeria’s Kidnap Industry, stressed that the increasing number of kidnappings is one of the major reasons of instability in the country. Recently, catholic priests were abducted, and were asked to pay a ransom of N50 million per priest. With this, it is apparent that the scheme of the abductions is financial. The report states that between 2011 and 2020, kidnappers received less than $20 million, paid as ransom by abducted Nigerians.
However, between July 2021 and June 2022, the abduction of about 3,400 people in Nigeria was recorded, and the deaths of no fewer than 500 people during these abductions. Following the abductions, over N6.5 billion was demanded as ransom for the captives, while the sum of over N63.5 million was eventually paid. As a result of the large sums of money Nigerians have to part with, to save their loved ones from kidnappers, the rate of poverty increases.
Kidnappers now seek ransom in forms other than money.
Kidnapping is an act of keeping someone against their will that usually involves the offering of something in exchange for freedom. It could be a kidnap for ransom, ritual, strategic bargain, and child abduction. However, in Nigeria, kidnap for ransom is the most rampant form of kidnapping where prominent and wealthy people are abducted as a result of the belief that they own enough money to pay a huge amount for their ransom.
Considering the rising poverty levels in the country, kidnappers now seek ransom payments in other forms rather than money. An instance of such ransom payment took place after the kidnapping of members of a Celestial Church in Wasimi, Ewekoro LGA of Ogun State. The kidnappers demanded N50 million for the release of the church members, but eventually released them after the sum of N1 million was paid, together with bags of rice and beans, cigarettes, and guns.
ISWAP released 37 abductees, collecting N100 million each.
Another of such occurrence was the abduction of two children of the Sarkin Gabas of Bafarwa in Sokoto State, June 2022. The ransom payment for the release of the children was N2 million Naira and three new Android phones, with other items like crates of malt drinks, codeine, gallons of palm oil, and water, requested by the abductors. These nationwide abductions have a huge impact on the economy of the country due to its limitation of businesses and investments in critical areas.
In addition, the report revealed that abductions in different states in the country are likely connected to specific groups; it is either to extract concessions or for ransoms. ISWAP and Boko Haram, for example, are infamous in Borno State, for their target of travelers and aid workers. After ISWAP’s attacked the Kaduna-Abuja train where it abducted 72 passengers, it released 37 abductees for different sums of money ranging from N100 million upward, per abductee.
Mass unemployment is a factor that breeds kidnapping.
Judging from previous cases of abductions, the reports disclosed that the majority of the kidnappings are carried out by desperate criminal gangs with the sole aim of getting ransom payments. Some of the factors that have led to the prevalence of this act in the country is the challenge of illegal arms, weak security architecture, and socio-economic factors such as mass unemployment, which gives the opportunity for miscreants to embrace kidnapping as a method of making money easily.
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