Our continent is plagued by an unending stream of misery, and reports of thousands of missing Africans, with Nigeria accounting for over 40% of those reported missing, only add to that agony. It is great that the Federal Government has just revealed it’s intention to compile a database of the victims through the National Human Rights Commission. It emphasizes the tragic fact that the nation had up until now failed to keep track of its missing inhabitants and is only now realizing its need to find and retrieve them. Renewing the commitment to implement preventative and corrective measures, as well as creating new policies, is necessary. At a meeting of stakeholders in Abuja, Tony Ojukwu, the executive secretary of the NHRC, addressed the issue and the consequences of missing individuals in Nigeria.
It’s past the time to take this and other steps. According to data from the International Committee of the Red Cross, there are now 64,000 people missing throughout Africa. Almost 14,000 children and 25,000 other people, mostly from Nigeria, are still missing. Since there were 24,000 of them in October 2022, another 1,000 people had vanished in Nigeria in less than four months. According to the ICRC, 13,000 Nigerian families are actively looking for their missing loved ones. This breaks my heart. Insecurity, violent warfare, irregular migration, including the perilous trips taken by many people seeking a better future via the Sahara Desert, poverty, discrimination, and political instability are among the causes cited by experts.
About 630 people were declared missing between January and June of 2021.
By the middle of 2021, the ICRC reported that there were 35 active armed conflicts in Africa, and thousands of adults and children crossing the Sahara and the Mediterranean Sea in quest of safety “entail tremendous risks, including the possibility of disappearance.” Several people have been kidnapped. Only seven African countries, including Nigeria, are undergoing armed conflict, accounting for almost 82% of the missing. In Nigeria, insecurity is causing a large number of missing persons. According to the Tony Blair Institute for Social Change, between 2015 and 2022, over 55,000 people disappeared in the nation as a result of Islamic terrorism/insurgency, banditry, rapine by Fulani herdsmen, and intercommunal conflict. With kidnapping being a booming industry, more people are going missing.
Without a doubt, the national and local governments of Nigeria have not given the issue enough attention. Even more disheartening is the fact that the Federal Government is only now realizing the importance of a database. A study from MissingInNG in November 2021 stated that roughly 630 persons were declared missing between January and June of that year. In the end, 338 people were located, while 5 had passed away. The government and security organizations have a duty to disseminate knowledge and support attempts to reunite families.
The pandemic of people going missing affects more than just Nigeria.
Nigeria is not the only nation affected by the epidemic of missing individuals. With 521,705 people missing as of 2021 according to, the Healthy Journal’s Missing People Statistics 2023, the United States has the highest global missing person rate. It has been surpassed by India, where over 2,130 people vanish every week; the United Kingdom comes in second with 353,000 missing person files opened annually; and Syria comes in third with 100,000 missing as a result of its 13-year conflict. Nigeria is placed in an uncomfortable seventh place, as 571 kidnappings were reported in January 2022. The article included banditry and ritual executions as further causes.
Almost 2,602 migrants perished in the Mediterranean Sea in 2022, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Even while not every maritime fatality can be verified, 3,231 people were reported as dead or missing in the Mediterranean and on North-West African routes. Illegal immigration has been primarily fueled by poor governance and an uncertain economic future. The government must restore faith in the possibility of realizing the Nigerian dream and take economic measures that would help young people prosper in their native nation. It should adopt measures to boost exports, employment growth, and production while reducing insecurity.
Governments, should set up counselling for the families of missing persons.
Nigeria should coordinate its agencies, involve the states, and develop an active policy to address the missing persons issue, as advised by the UN, which, along with other organizations, designates August 30 of each year as the International Day of the Disappeared to raise awareness of people who are detained without the knowledge of their loved ones. The Nigeria Police Force should establish specialized missing persons units at the national, state, and zonal command levels and work closely with the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, Interpol, and the immigration service, as well as internal and external foreign intelligence agencies. Governments should establish support and counselling systems for the relatives of missing people, especially at the state level. Both the federal and state governments should demonstrate a strong commitment to putting an end to this threat.
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