Between July 2022 and June 2023, 3,620 people were abducted in 582 kidnap-related incidents in Nigeria with a reported ransom demand of at least ₦5 billion and actual ransom payments of ₦302 million, according to SB Morgen intelligence report.
Kidnapping for ransom is a menace security agencies in the country are tackling headlong. These kidnappers unusually carry out mass abductions in schools and communities or invade the homes of targeted persons. The economic hardship, rising inflation, and high unemployment rates have fuelled kidnapping for ransom.
In most cases where the families of the victims can pay the ransom demanded by the abductors, the victims are released, while those whose families cannot afford to pay the ransom are tortured and murdered in cold blood.
The report titled “The Economics of Nigeria’s Kidnap Industry: Follow the Money” revealed that the number of kidnappers killed by security has not served as a credible deterrent for would-be kidnappers, adding that the industry’s profitability outweighs the perceived threat of state intervention and police rescues.
The report said Northwest and Northcentral regions exhibit higher in-kind cases of ransom demands, correlating with Nigeria’s widespread poverty; these regions have seen a surge in demands for motorcycles as part of ransom payments.
Although the figure could be higher due to underreporting, Catholic priests encountered 21 abductions during this period. Kaduna State was the most dangerous state for priests, who were often kidnapped during services.
“Abductors demanded around ₦50 million in the past, but the Church now refrains from disclosing ransom negotiations possibly to avoid encouraging further attacks. Statewise, Edo kidnappers sought high ransoms but received little. On the other hand, Taraba paid the most, primarily due to a single case.
“The Northcentral saw higher ransom amounts demanded, notably in Nasarawa, where targeted abductions yielded maximum ransom with minimal resistance. The South-South’s low ransom payments may indicate efficient police intervention or victim silence.
The past year showed a higher likelihood of being kidnapped in Kaduna, Niger, or Zamfara, the three states recording the highest per capita abduction rates and deaths during kidnap attempts. Civilians bore the brunt of kidnap attempts around the country, with 430 casualties, while security agents and kidnappers accounted for 19 and 121 deaths, respectively.”
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