Kidnappings and Ransom Demands Surge in Nigeria

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By Milcah  Tanimu

Over the span of one year, from July 2022 to June 2023, armed groups abducted approximately 3,620 individuals in Nigeria and demanded a ransom of N5 billion (roughly $6.4 million), according to a recent report by a Lagos-based security and political risk research organization, SBM intelligence. The report, titled “The Economics of Nigeria’s Kidnap Industry,” also revealed that during this period, these armed groups claimed the lives of 570 people.

The report outlined how security concerns have spread across all six geopolitical zones in Nigeria and how ransom-based kidnapping has come to replace other motives for abductions, influenced by the country’s struggling economy, high inflation, and significant unemployment rates.

During the analyzed period, the study identified 582 kidnapping-related incidents, resulting in the abduction of 3,620 individuals. Of the N5 billion ransom demanded, only N302 million (approximately $387,179) was confirmed as paid by June 30, 2023, accounting for about six percent of the total amount.

The report also highlighted the regional distribution of kidnappings and deaths, with the North-West region experiencing the highest number of cases. Kaduna State, part of the North-West region, had a particularly high incidence of kidnapping due to banditry and clashes between herders and farmers. The North-Central region ranked second in terms of kidnappings and deaths.

The North-East, which has long grappled with the insurgency of the extremist group Boko Haram, experienced 125 kidnapping cases and 63 deaths. In the South-East and South-West regions, there were 159 cases with 27 deaths and 168 cases with 29 deaths, respectively.

The South-South region had the lowest number of ransom payments, possibly attributed to more effective police rescue operations or victims not disclosing ransom details.

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