• Thursday, April 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

UN staff on edge amid Nigeria’s kidnapping wave

Abuja police confirm arrest of kidnapping kingpin

The United Nations (UN) has sounded the alarm over a disturbing surge in kidnapping for ransom incidents.

The increasing frequency of these incidents has prompted the international organisation to issue a stark warning, highlighting the pressing need for urgent attention and heightened security measures in the face of this concerning trend.

In recent weeks, a surge in kidnapping for ransom incidents has swept across various parts of Nigeria, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), sending shockwaves through communities.

The majority of these incidents occur under the cover of darkness, targeting individuals either on the road or in their residences.

The alarming trend has prompted a statement from Phillip Ackatia-Armah, Chief Security Advisor and United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) representative in Nigeria, recently in Abuja.

The statement reveals that criminals are increasingly targeting those perceived as capable of paying a ransom, leading to a rise in such incidents.

“While UN staff and dependents may not be singled out, their vulnerability stems from living in communities where they may be recognised as potential sources of ransom funds,” Ackatia-Armah stated.

According to him, an example is highlighted from November 14, when the dependent of a national UNSMS staff member was kidnapped in Plateau State, only to be released four days later.

In response to this escalating threat, the UN has issued a series of recommendations to ensure the safety of UNSMS personnel.

Ackatia-Armah advised that robust security measures at residences be implemented, including alert guards, reinforced fences, secure gates, sturdy doors, windows, alarm systems, strong locks, and adequate lighting.

“Exercise caution by limiting nighttime movement, especially when alone. Be aware of the current security situation, recent incidents, or potential threats. Avoid areas known for criminal activities.

“Change daily routes and timings to avoid predictable movements, making it difficult for potential threats to anticipate actions.

“Have emergency contact numbers readily available and inform others of your whereabouts. Keep family, friends, or colleagues informed at all times, the statement reads in part.

Ackatia-Armah further advised that
composure to think clearly and make informed decisions should be maintained, stating that in the initial stages, consider complying with the kidnapper’s demands to ensure survival.

“Pay close attention to the kidnapper’s details, surroundings, and any distinct features for law enforcement. If possible, establish a rapport with the kidnapper by staying calm and avoiding actions that may provoke aggression.

“Share personal information that may evoke empathy, presenting yourself as more than just an object. Subtly signal for help without alerting the kidnapper, leaving clues or communicating discreetly with bystanders.

“Continuously assess surroundings for potential escape routes and act decisively if the opportunity arises. Keep mental strength intact, focusing on survival instincts until help arrives”, he mentioned.

UN Security Focal Points are urged to circulate this advisory to all personnel, emphasizing the importance of reporting safety or security concerns promptly to UNDSS’ Country Security Operation Centre (CSOC) in Abuja.

This advisory emphasized the critical need for heightened vigilance and proactive security measures in the face of the escalating threat of kidnapping for ransom incidents in Nigeria.