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Unemployment and Poverty Cited as Top Reasons for Rise in Kidnapping

Abuja, Nigeria. February 21st, 2017 –Latest public opinion poll results released by NOIPolls have revealed that majority of Nigerians  cited the level of unemployment and poverty as the two top reasons for the spate of kidnappings in the country. Greed was also mentioned by 15 percent of the respondents as another major reason why people choose kidnapping as their source of revenue.  Additionally, 60 percent stated that kidnapping is very prevalent in Nigeria and 43 percent said they had heard about some kidnap cases in their locality in the last 3 months further buttressing its prevalence. Interestingly, a minor 5 percent claimed that there hasn’t been any case or incidence of kidnapping in their neighbourhood.

To provide a brief insight into the outcomes of the various kidnap cases reported in the country, a large proportion (87 percent) of the respondents who specified that they know a victim personally said that the victim was rescued while 35 percent disclosed that a ransom was paid before the abductors released the victims. Also, 16 percent indicated that the kidnappers were only arrested while 8 percent confirmed that the perpetrators were both arrested and prosecuted. This indicates the need for more vigilance and alertness on the parts of individuals while the security agencies improve on their methods of tackling such cases. Our results also show that Nigerians have high expectations for the security agencies in handling kidnap cases as almost 7 in 10 respondents (69 percent) mentioned that they would alert the security agents if they suspect any kidnapping scene. These were some of the key findings from the rate of kidnapping poll conducted in the week of February 6th, 2017.

Brief Background

In criminal law, kidnapping is the taking away or transportation of a person against that person’s will, usually to hold the person in false imprisonment, a confinement without legal authority[1]. The history of kidnapping in Nigeria started in the Niger Delta Region. The restive youths resorted to kidnapping foreign nationals at work on oil fields. They did this as a way to retaliate or revenge the unemployment and lack of development in the region. This led to the creation of the amnesty program and other youth empowerment initiatives to curb the incidences, nonetheless, the practice spread outside the Niger Delta region and this time it was for political, ransom or ritual purposes.

Kidnapping and hostage-taking are often used by armed groups especially terror inclined groups as tactics to force significant concessions relating to their demands on their primary targets. And this phenomenon is on the increase on daily basis in Nigeria. The most prominent kidnapping case in Nigeria according to Amnesty international is the abduction of the Chibok girls in Borno state since 2014 by the Boko Haram sect. Also according to them, 41 alleged new cases of mass abduction by the Boko Haram sect have been unrecorded by the Nigerian government since 2014[2].  Though the Boko Haram sect do not kidnap for the purpose of getting money through ransom, their activities of kidnap has halted economic activities (farming) in the North-East geopolitical zone due to fear of being taken.

While kidnapping for ransom (commonly reported) is more prominent in the South-East and South-South (Niger Delta); kidnapping for ritual purposes (uncommonly reported) is more prominent in the South-West and North Central regions while abduction (mostly unreported) is more prominent in the North-East and North-West region[3]. Prominent among the victims of high profile kidnap includes; the father of the popular novelist Chimamanda Adichie, former Finance Minister Olu Falae, A reverend Father John Adeyi, and the princess of Akoko in Ondo State Toyin Omosowon[4].

There are many causes of kidnapping; among them are unemployment, poverty, religion, political issues, religion, and corruption[5]. The practice can be reduced with more governmental involvement, stakeholder interventions and proper education. In view of this background, NOIPolls conducted a snap poll to gauge the opinions and perceptions of Nigerians regarding the rising incidences of kidnapping.

Survey Findings

The poll measured the prevalence of kidnapping in Nigeria and majority (60 percent) of the respondents affirmed that kidnapping is either very prevalent or prevalent in the country.  The 61+ age group had the highest (81 percent) percentage of respondents in this category. On the other hand, 25 percent said that kidnapping is either not prevalent or not prevalent at all in Nigeria while 15 percent of Nigerians indicated that kidnapping is somewhat prevalent.

Further analysis by geo-political zones revealed that respondents in the South-West (74 percent), North-Central (68 percent), South-South (65 percent) and the South-East (60 percent) zones accounted for the highest percentage of Nigerians who admitted that kidnapping is prevalent in the country while the majority of respondents who opined that the issue of kidnapping is not prevalent in Nigeria are residents from the North-West (43 percent) and the North-East (33 percent) zones.

In addition, the poll sought to find out the frequency of kidnapping occurrences in the country and results indicate a rise in kidnap cases in Nigeria as 43 percent (which formed the largest majority) indicated that the last time they heard about cases of kidnap within their locality was less than 3 months ago. This statement was made mainly by residents from the South-South zone, indicative of a possible rampant occurrence in the region. Likewise, 13 percent stated that they heard about a kidnap case between 4 – 6 months in their locality and 6 percent said it was between 7 – 9 months ago while 7 percent stated it’s between 10 months – 1 year since they heard about a kidnap case within their locality. Similarly, 26 percent, with majority being the residents from the South-West zone, indicated that it has been over 1 year that they heard about the case of kidnapping in their area.

On the contrary, 5 percent claimed that there has never been any kidnap case within their locality and majority of respondents in this category are residents from the North-West zone (12 percent).

To further substantiate the many kidnapping stories reported on various media sources and outlets in Nigeria, respondents were asked if they personally know any kidnap victim and 33 percent were affirmative, while 67 percent said they do not know any kidnap victim personally. Most of the respondents that agreed that they know a kidnap victim personally were residents from the South-East zone (46 percent).

Respondents who admitted that they know a kidnap victim were asked the outcome of the kidnap and an overwhelming majority (79 percent) stated that the victims were rescued. Out of the cases of victims that were rescued, 70 percent indicated that a ransom was paid, while 20 percent reported that the kidnappers were only arrested, 9 percent disclosed that they were both arrested and prosecuted. It is therefore, pertinent that kidnappers are arrested and prosecuted in accordance to the law to serve as a deterrent to other perpetrators.

Further findings revealed that unemployment (34 percent), which forms the majority, and poverty (27 percent) are perceived as the top reasons for kidnapping in Nigeria. The South-East zone had the larger proportion (53 percent) of Nigerians who stated unemployment, while the North-West, South-South and the South-West zones accounted for the highest portion of the respondents who asserted that it is as a result of poverty with 29 percent each. In the same manner, 15 percent attributed the major cause of kidnapping in Nigeria to greed/quest for quick money. Other mentions include poor economic situation (10 percent), poor security conditions (8 percent) and lack of fear of God (3 percent).

Lastly, the poll sought the views of Nigerians on the actions they would take if they suspect on-going kidnapping activities and majority (69 percent) said they would alert security agencies. A smaller proportion of the respondents (15 percent) believe in the power of numbers, so they would alert the neighbourhood. The fear of becoming a potential victim alongside the intended targets also made 6 percent to declare that they would run for cover while 3 percent mentioned that they would confront the kidnappers.

In conclusion, the poll has shown that majority of Nigerians (60 percent; 31 percent + 29 percent) were of the opinion that kidnapping is either very prevalent or prevalent in Nigeria while 43 percent attested that the last kidnap case in their locality is within 3 months which further buttresses the frequency of the criminal act. Perpetration of the menace of kidnappings in Nigeria was further validated by the findings of this report as 33 percent indicated that they know a victim of a previous kidnap case. The report also provided a ray of hope as a vast majority, 87 percent, confirmed that the victims of the kidnap cases they know of were rescued and 8 percent proclaimed that the perpetrators were arrested and prosecuted. Additionally, further findings showed that security agencies need to do more in successfully tackling these kidnap cases as 35 percent of the respondents reported that ransom was paid, 7 percent mentioned that the victim was killed and 6 percent disclosed that the victim is yet to be found till date.

Furthermore, unemployment (34 percent) and Poverty (27 percent) have been identified as the two main reasons for the increased spate of this crime, as the perpetrators may go into this due to their poor economic situation, hence, the creation of more employment opportunities, especially for the youths, will help in the fight against crime in general in the country. As a counteractive measure, 69 percent of Nigerians have mentioned that they would quickly alert the security agencies if they suspect any kidnapping scene and for this reason, the security agencies need to improve on their techniques in tackling this menace in the country.

Survey Methods

The opinion poll was conducted in the week of February 6th 2017. It involved telephone interviews of a random nationwide sample. 1,000 randomly selected phone-owning Nigerians aged 18 years and above, representing the six geo-political zones in the country were interviewed. With a sample of this size, we can say with 95% confidence that the results obtained are statistically precise – within a range of plus or minus 3%. NOIPolls Limited is the No1 for country specific polling services in West Africa. We conduct periodic opinion polls and studies on various socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria. More information is available at


This press release has been produced by NOIPolls Limited to provide information on all issues which form the subject matter of the document. Kindly note that while we are willing to share results from our polls with the general public, we only request that NOIPolls be acknowledged as author whenever and wherever our poll results are used, cited or published.

NOIPolls hereby certifies that all the views expressed in this document accurately reflect its views of respondents surveyed for the poll, and background information is based on information from various sources that it believes are reliable; however, no representation is made that it is accurate or complete. Whilst reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document, no responsibility or liability is accepted for errors or fact or for any views expressed herein by NOIPolls for actions taken as a result of information provided in this report. Any ratings, forecasts, estimates, opinions or views herein constitute a judgment as at the date of this document. If the date of this document is not current, the views and content may not reflect NOIPolls’ current findings and/or thinking.

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