• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Over five Nigerians kidnapped daily as plague spreads

Kidnapping in Nigeria

An average of over five Nigerians have been kidnapped daily so far this year as the spate of abductions has heightened tensions in the country, a new report has shown.

The report by SBM Intelligence said at least 68 incidents of large-scale kidnappings have been reported in the country since the beginning of 2024, averaging about one per day as of March 15, with a victim count exceeding the entire years of 2019 and 2020 combined.

“At the time of putting this report together, the 2024 numbers, which have reported 1,867 victims in such abductions, have exceeded the whole count for 2019 (19; 153) and 2020 (59; 1152), respectively,” it said.

Kaduna State recorded the most incidents (132) and victims (3,969), followed closely by Zamfara and Katsina. These states, located in the Northwest, are most affected by banditry.

“Outside of the Northwest, Niger, which has a significant banditry crisis, dominates the charts, with 2,138 victims in 84 incidents. This translates to 25.4 people abducted per incident between 2019 and 2024,” it said.

Nigeria has witnessed at least 735 mass abductions with 15,398 people abducted since 2019, according to the report titled ‘Mass Abductions: The Catastrophe of Nigeria’s Kidnap Epidemic’.

SBM defines a mass abduction event as a “kidnapping incident in which criminal gangs or terrorists seize five or more victims at once.”

“The reason for the abductions varies by region, while Boko Haram splinter groups like ISWAP still operate, their focus has shifted. ISWAP’s territorial control allows for taxation, reducing reliance on mass abductions — the Abubakar Shekau faction, however, resorts to mass abductions for survival,” the report said.

It said: “Contrary to the government’s claims, the Islamic State’s West Africa Province—the dominant Boko Haram faction—continues to hold territory in both Borno and Yobe States. The other faction, Jama’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihad (JAS), now led by Shekau’s loyalists, has been significantly weakened after losing territories to the Nigerian military and ISWAP.

“Reduced to a ragtag militia with limited resources and operational capacity, the group resorts to mass abductions of women, girls, and young boys to bolster its fleeting resources and personnel. This played out in the kidnapping of more than 300 IDPs4 in a displacement camp in Gamboru town of Ngala, Borno State, on 3 March.”

In the other parts of the North, bandit gangs are responsible for mass abductions. In rural Katsina, Sokoto, and Zamfara, kingpins instruct gang members to raid villages for two significant reasons: failure to pay imposed levies and the need for manpower in the farms owned and controlled by the bandit kingpins, according to the report.

It pointed out that large-scale kidnappings are less frequent in the South, saying highway kidnappings are more common, with occasional school bus abductions.

The report linked kidnapping to the economic crisis in the country, saying that “hardships have pushed many individuals towards desperate measures, including turning to a life of crime, such as kidnapping.”

According to SBM, kidnapping has become an attractive option for criminals due to its relatively low-risk, high-reward nature. With just a small team and locally manufactured rifles, perpetrators can execute abductions with alarming ease.

“The inability of Nigeria’s security agencies to effectively combat kidnapping reflects a broader failure within the country’s security architecture. This failure is not solely due to external threats, but also internal sabotage, with some state officials implicated in collusion with or support for kidnappers,” the firm said.