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6 in 10 Nigerians say authorities not doing enough to curb kidnapping

Findings of the survey on kidnapping for ransom in Nigeria depicted in a pink, brown and white infographic display
Infographic depicting the poll on kidnapping

Abuja, Nigeria. February 15, 2024 – A new public opinion poll conducted by NOIPolls has revealed a higher proportion of adult Nigerians nationwide (56 percent) lament authorities are not doing enough to curb the menace of kidnapping in the country. The poll further revealed that more respondents (53 percent), about 74,201,877 of the country’s population according to the population and housing census figures of 2006, consider kidnapping to be prevalent in Nigeria. Interestingly, the North-Central Zone accounted for the highest number of respondents who decried the prevalence of the menace. These findings further corroborate the publication of the International Centre for Investigative Report (ICIR), that in recent years, Nigeria has seen a sharp increase in kidnapping incidence. Similarly, the 2023 Nigeria Security Report on kidnappings/abductions by an Abuja-based security risk management and intelligence company, Beacon Consulting, captured by Punch Newspaper on January 13, 2024, the country’s security architecture at the moment is not accountable as it lacks operational, financial, and democratic accountability, a development the report said, has made it difficult to attain the desired success in security.



Kidnapping Poll Report - Febuary 2024
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In providing insights into the outcomes of the various kidnap cases reported in the country, findings revealed that 38 percent of adult Nigerians interviewed affirmed knowing someone who has been kidnapped within their community in the past year, while 62 percent stated otherwise. When asked if the most recent victim has been released, findings revealed a majority (78 percent) answered in the affirmative. Contrarily, 13 percent revealed that victims are still in captivity and 5 percent sadly disclosed victims were killed in captivity.

Additionally, respondents (78 percent) who admitted that victims were released were further asked how long the victims were held hostage before regaining freedom. A higher proportion (60 percent) of respondents revealed that they were held for less than one month. Also, 24 percent stated victims were held for 1 to 2 months, 9 percent stated the victims were held for 3 to 5 months, and 4 percent stated the victims were held for 6 months and above.


When respondents were asked if a ransom was paid for the victims’ release, 43 percent said ‘’Yes’ ’while 57 percent stated otherwise. Unfortunately, a higher proportion of respondents (21 percent) revealed that between 1 to 3 million was paid as ransom. This is followed by 17 percent who disclosed that 10 million and above was paid for victims’ release, 4 to 6 million at 11 percent. These findings corroborate the SBM Intelligence’s report captured by a Premium Times publication that Kidnappers collected N650 million as ransom in one year. The security report also recorded that N6.531 billion ($9.9 million) was demanded in ransom between July 2021 and June 2022 but N653.7 million ($1.2 million) was paid as ransom for releasing captives.


In the same vein, respondents (13 percent) who revealed that victims are still in captivity were asked how long they have been held captive. A significant proportion (30 percent) disclosed victims have been held hostage for less than one month and another significant proportion, (30 percent) revealed two months. In others, 23 percent revealed that victims have been in captivity for 6 months or above.


Major causes of kidnapping in the country, 39 percent of respondents stated economic hardship and unemployment (28 percent) as major causes of kidnapping in Nigeria. Other cited causes include; Bad Governance (10 percent), Get Rich Quick syndrome (5 percent), and Poverty (4 percent). However, 9 percent of respondents stated that they do not know the cause of kidnapping in the country.


Finally, respondents were asked what should be done to curb kidnapping in the country and the result revealed that a higher proportion of respondents (37 percent) suggest Youth Empowerment/Creation of job opportunities as a way of curbing the menace. Others 22 percent want security forces to be strengthened. These are some of the key findings from the poll on kidnapping conducted in the week commencing February 12, 2024.


Background

Kidnapping has become a menace and one of the security challenges in Nigeria. The definition of kidnapping is not specific as it varies from state to state and jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Kidnapping as the name implies, is the forceful seizure, taking away and unlawful detention of a person against his/her will. It is an illicit practice in which human beings are forcefully abducted to an unknown location for payment of ransom by relatives. Kidnapping is a common law offence and the key part is that it is an unwanted act on the part of the victim. It is a restriction of someone else’s liberty which violates the provision of freedom of movement as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, where every other law takes its cue from. The predominance of this illicit practice in Nigeria was ranked in the global index as one of the worst places to dwell.


In Nigeria, kidnapping and hostage-taking dates back to decades ago and has particularly become a major security issue in the country since the early 2000s with the emergence of the Niger Delta militants. The volatile oil-rich regions of the Niger Delta witnessed this phenomenon on a large scale with the targets mostly expatriates and Nigerians in the oil business. While the federal government found some ways to manage the kidnapping situation in the Niger Delta region then, the menace didn’t stop. It has spread throughout the country extending to places as far as Kano and Kaduna in the far Northern part of Nigeria. South-Eastern and South-South parts of Nigeria have also become the kidnappers’ playgrounds. Recently, kidnapping has risen across all regions in the country, with an average of 3,000 persons abducted almost every year in the last 3 years.


The widening scale of kidnapping in Nigeria is a cause for concern as all are affected by it. Churches, mosques, markets, schools, homes and highways, all are susceptible to this menace. The abductees and their families are traumatised by the ordeal as victims are often assaulted, starved, molested, maimed or killed as the case may be. Large-scale abductions have also targeted school children. A study case is the abduction of the Chibok Girls. Ten years ago, 276 schoolgirls were abducted from a government secondary school in Chibok, a town in Borno State, Nigeria. Some of the girls escaped captivity on their own, while others were released following intense campaigning efforts from organisations, including Amnesty International. However, 82 girls remain in captivity, while more than 1,400 children have been abducted in subsequent attacks.

Thousands of students have been kidnapped in Borno State’s Chibok, Niger State’s Kagara, Zamfara State’s Jangebe, Kaduna State’s Afaka, Kebbi State’s Yauri, Ekiti State etc. In 2021, Save the Children International, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), disclosed that over 1,000 students were abducted from Nigerian schools. Data from the NST also showed how the wave of kidnapping has shifted from one region to another.


In July 2022, Daily Trust reported that N800 million was paid to terrorists to secure the release of seven captives seized from the AK9 train service attacked on the Abuja–Kaduna route. The released victims were among the dozens of passengers abducted on March 28, 2022, by gunmen who derailed the moving train. Similarly, an Enugu-based politician, Tochukwu Okeke, who in 2019 narrated how he was kidnapped by a late notorious kidnapper, Collins Ezenwa, popularly known as ‘E-money, said he paid $2 million, which had a naira value of N700 million at the time, to secure his release. The Monarchs are not spared as there were recent incidences of kidnap and gruesome killings of 2 monarchs in Kwara and Ondo states respectively.


No fewer than 15 persons have been reportedly kidnapped in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) since the beginning of 2024. The victims were kidnapped in two major incidents that occurred in the first week of the new year thus depicting rising cases of abduction in the nation’s capital. With the invasion of kidnappers, ‘One-chance’ vehicle robbers and sundry other criminal cartels, Abuja is becoming increasingly unsafe for residents according to respected Security Analyst and Lawyer, Bulama Bukarti


Nigeria’s Kidnapping crisis highlights the Country’s Problematic Intelligence Infrastructure. Whether the problems are technical, political, or both, it is civilians who pay the price. Unfortunately, there is a lack of will to effectively arrest and prosecute kidnappers, politics of resource control and complicit on the part of the political, religious and military leadership in the country acting as limiting factors on state’s responses.

Against this background, NOIPolls surveyed to measure the opinions of Nigerians regarding kidnappings in the country, and hereby presents its findings.

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