• Six girls, 2 staff of engravers Boarding School Kaduna released by kidnappersZamfara, Kaduna, Niger worst hit

  • S/East, S/South record least cases

  • Benin-Auchi, Zaria-Sokoto-Gusau, Benin-Ore, Keffi- Akwanga roads emerge hotspots

  • VICTIM: Captors now sell abductees

By Charles Kumolu, Deputy Editor

No fewer than 720 persons have been kidnapped across Nigeria since the beginning of 2021, research commissioned by Sunday Vanguard revealed.

The findings, which covered Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones, South-West, South -East, South-South, North-Central, North-East and North-West including Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, represent the reported cases.

Of the zones, North-West led with more than 400 cases while North-Central had 250. This was followed by the North-East, FCT, South-West, South-South, and South-East. The South-East had the least reported cases.

The total figure represents the confirmed cases by the Police and eye witnesses’ accounts, which were eventually reported by the media.

Sunday Vanguard learned that other unreported incidents may have taken place, especially in Niger, Zamfara, Sokoto, and Katsina states. Thus, the sum total may well be above 720 if the cases were all captured.

Pattern

The pattern of abduction remained the same in the North, where victims were often kidnapped en mass during attacks on remote villages and schools.

Mass abduction of travellers on the highways emerged as the latest model of operation by gunmen who have become more daring.

This is not prevalent in the North alone as highways in the South-West and South-South have become hot spots.

Those identified include Benin-Ore Highway, Benin-Auchi-Okene Highway, Keffi-Akwanga Highway, Akure-Owo Expressway, Abuja-Abaji-Lokoja Road, Zaria-Sokoto-Gusau, Bauchi-Tafawa-Balewa Highway, Wukari-Takum Road, and Minna -Kotongora Road among others.

In the South-West where herdsmen have been accused of most of the incidents, abductees were often abducted on the highways and forests while a few cases took place at victims’ farms.

The varying modus operandi in North and South was further highlighted in a 2020 SBM report.

Approach

The finding stated thus: “It would appear that in the south, while kidnapping may be frequent, the selection of victims is more targeted and the kidnappers see it more like a business transaction, trying hard to extract money from their criminal activities. This targeted approach makes their victims less expendable as they are usually fewer in number at a time. In the North, the modus operandi is more likely that a larger number of people are simply rounded up and then ransoms demanded en masse. Because of this approach, victims that are unable to pay up as quickly as expected are more likely to be killed by the kidnappers.”

Official statistics of incidents within the time under review could not be obtained as Sunday Vanguard gathered that the data is often released quarterly by the Police.

Meanwhile, last Friday’s abduction of Government Science College, Jangebe, Talata Mafara, Zamfara State, schoolgirls underscored how established kidnap for ransom has become in Nigeria.

In its familiar tone, the Police in a statement by Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, condemned the incident, promising to rescue the girls.

“The IGP, while condemning the barbaric and callous abduction of the innocent female students, has assured that the Police and other security forces will not relent until the abducted students are successfully rescued and reunited with their families. The joint rescue operation is being carried out by the Police, the Military and other members of the law enforcement community with support from the State Government and other stakeholders, “the Police said.

Clear strategy

Sunday Vanguard notes that after each mass abduction state and federal governments condemn the attack in strong terms, with promises to rescue abductees. But if the revelations of released victims were anything to go by, governments’ usual claims of not paying ransom are false.

Without any clear strategy for arresting the scourge, which has spread to every part of the country, authorities and individuals pay huge sums to kidnappers.

For instance, the SBM said Nigeria paid $18.3 million, N7 billion, between June 2011 and March 2020.

“SBM Intelligence analysed data covering the period from June 2011 to the end of March 2020 using a collection of public sources, police and media reports, as well as SBM’s extensive research network spread across the country. What we have found shows that between June 2011 and the end of March 2020, at least $18.34 million has been paid to kidnappers as ransom. Even more frightening is that the larger proportion of that figure (just below $11 million), was paid out between January 2016 and March 2020, indicating that kidnapping is becoming more lucrative, “the report added.

N3 billion, ransom

Last year, a committee set up by Governor Bello Matawalle to find solutions to banditry in Zamfara State, disclosed that over N3 billion was collected by bandits as ransom from relations of abducted victims in the state.

Chairman of the committee, Mohammed Abubakar, made the disclosure while presenting the committee’s report to the governor.

He said the report covered the period from June 2011 to May 29, 2019.

Abubakar said the money was collected from 3,672 victims whose relatives paid to secure their freedom.

The former Inspector General of Police ,IGP, said a total of 4,983 women were widowed, 25,050 children orphaned and 190,340 persons displaced by banditry over the period in the state.

In a related development, Dan-Aji community of Faskari LGA of Katsina State, where bandits abducted 26 girls, countered the claim by the Zamfara State government that no ransom was paid to secure their release from captivity.

The community said N6.6m ransom was paid for the release of the girls.

Captives

Sunday Vanguard also learned that some abductors now sell their victims to another set of people who are big in the business. The new buyers in turn place huge  ransom on the captives.

According to a victim who resides in Sokoto, the pattern seems to be the trend among kidnappers at Abaji, Lokoja, and Okene axis of Kogi State.

“Apart from Shika and Giwa axis on Zaria-Gusau-Sokoto Road, another dangerous place is Abaji area close to Okene. The kidnappers in that area are not herdsmen. They kidnap travellers and sell to herdsmen who now negotiate with victims’ relatives,” the victim who pleaded anonymity said.

The kidnapped Public Relations Officer of Edo State Command of Nigerian Immigration Service, Mrs. Bridget Esene, even alluded to this while narrating her ordeal.

“I was later sold to another set of gunmen who then took me deep into the forest,” she added.

The timeline below shows how threatening kidnapping has become to Nigerians.

JANUARY 4:

Kidnappers abducted a Senior Protection Assistant with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, UNHCR, Abubakar Idris, popularly known as Alooma, along Damaturu Road, Borno State.

On the same day, gunmen kidnapped a medical doctor, Akindele Kayode, from a Health Care Centre at Tapa in Ibarapa North Local Government Area, LGA, Oyo State.

January 5:

In Niger State, residents of Yakila community in Rafi LGA were attacked by bandits, who kidnapped the village head, Alhaji Ibrahim Abdul –amid, a nurse and her two kids.

No fewer than 40 persons were kidnapped in Birnin Gwari, Kaduna State. Birnin Gwari Progressive Union said the victims were in kidnappers’ den in Niger State.

Gunmen killed one person and abducted over 20 others along Mungi Buga in Gwari Gadabule village in Toto LGA, Nasarawa State.

A traveller was abducted while his driver was killed along Ise Isua -Akoko Highway, Ondo State. The Police said the body of the driver was recovered and deposited at the mortuary in Ikare.

January 6:

A fashion designer’s apprentice in Ondo town, Ondo State, Temitope Adeniyi, kidnapped his lover’s three months –old- baby girl.

January 5:

Zamfara State Police Command said kidnappers struck at Kaduari village in Maru LGA and kidnapped six children of one Alhaji Sabi Gyare.

January 12:

A lecturer with Ken Saro Wiwa Polytechnic in Bori LGA of Rivers State, simply identified as Mr. James, was abducted by gunmen at his residence in Ugwurutali, Ikwere LGA of the state.

January 13:

Gunmen kidnapped four nursing mothers alongside 14 others in Mando village, Birnin Gwari LGA, Kaduna State. Chairman of Birnin Gwari Emirate Progressive Union, BEPE, Salisu Haruna, in a statement said the adductors invaded the area with AK47 rifles, raided a number of houses.

January 14:

An Ekiti-based petrol dealer, Suleiman Akinbami, was kidnapped and his abductors demanded N60million ransom.

January 15:

A kidnap attempt claimed the lives of Alhaji Yinusa Gambo and Mallam Surajo at Chikaji village, Igabi LGA, Kaduna State. The state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruan, said the duo lost their lives when they tried to escape from bandits who tried to abduct them at the residence of the Alhaji.

January 20:

Dean, Faculty of Science and Education and Head of Department of Mathematics, Federal University Dutsin-Ma, Katsina State, Professor Johnson Fatokun, was abducted at 9pm along Akwanga-Keffi highway at Kurmi Shinkafa village.

January 23:

25-year-old son of Bauchi State Auditor-General, Ziilkifiru Muhammed, escaped from kidnappers’ den. Mohammed was kidnapped alongside his father’s friend, Tiyasu Suleiman, along Bauchi- Tafawa Belewa highway after the Auditor General, Abdu Aliu was shot. He later escaped the next day while the abductors were sleeping. His father could not escape with him for age reasons and the beatings he received from the abductors.

January 24:

Bandits invaded Kafin Koro and adjourning villages in Paikoro LGA of Niger State killed five persons and abducted one while 10 others sustained various degrees of injury.

January 24:

A spokesperson for Nigeria Immigration Service, Edo State Command, Mrs. Bridget Esene, was kidnapped by unknown gunmen in Benin. She said her abductors sold her to herdsmen.

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January 25:

Kidnappers attacked Raphael Orphanage Home in Abaji Area Council of the FCT, Abuja abducting at least eight children and three others.

January 25:

The wife of the late Zonal Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Kogi State, Matthew Kola –Ojo, was among 14 people kidnapped between Ife and Egbeda in Ijumu Council Area of Kogi State.

January 26:

A former councilor in Nkari Ward 4 in Ini LGA of Akwa Ibom State, Benjamin Akpan, said four persons were abducted after an attack in the area.

January 27:

An aide to the member representing Oru West Constituency in Imo State House of Assembly, Dominic Ezerioha, was abducted by gunmen.

The victim, identified as Chetachi Linus Igboenyesi, popularly known as London Biggy, was kidnapped while on his way to Uli in Anambra State.

January 28:

Barely 48 hours after the appointment of new service chiefs, bandits were on the rampage in Niger, Kaduna and Taraba state, killing persons and abducting others. No fewer than 83 persons were said to have been abducted, including 27 wedding guests who were abducted along Wukari- Takum Road in Taraba State. 56 were kidnapped in Niger State.

February 1:

Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Arwan said some people were abducted when bandits attacked Barawa village, Fatika District, in Giwa LGA of the state.

Also, Peace Ogbogbo, the wife of an Ughelli businessman in Ughelli North LGA, Delta State, was kidnapped. Her abductors demanded N25 million as ransom.

February 2:

The Police in Abuja confirmed the abduction of John Makama, father of Gwari Local Council Chairman at about 1.00 am. The gunmen stormed the victim’s residence, shot sporadically into the air and abducted the man alongside his two siblings.

February 6:

A farmer, Solomon Akinmeji in Iju Akure North Council Area of Ondo State was said to have gone into his farm, only to be kidnapped by some herdsmen for objecting to their destruction of his farm.

February 9:

Gunmen attacked an ambulance conveying a corpse, killing an occupant and abducting one. The incident happened at Ahor, Benin Bye-pass, Edo State.

February 13:

The traditional ruler of Uruagu, Nnewi, in Anambra State was abducted.

The victim, Obi Charles Afam Obi was kidnapped in Orafite on his way back from a burial ceremony.

February 14:

No fewer than 18 persons were abducted by bandits, who ambushed a passenger bus in Rah LGA of Niger State on Valentine’s Day.

The bus, belonging to the Niger State Transport Authority was said to be taking the passengers from Kontangora to Minna when the incident occurred.

February 9:

Jimoh Folowosele, an indigene of Aramoko Ekiti, in Ekiti West LGA, was abducted while on official duty in Geidam, a border town in Yobe State.

He was said to have been abducted alongside two of his colleagues and has been in captivity since February 9, 2021.

A 46-year-old tipper lorry owner in Ilorin, Alhaji Musa Atere, was also kidnapped.

Atere was kidnapped around 6 a.m. along Ogundele/Madi Road in Ilorin LGA of Kwara State.

February 21:

A student of the Sociology Department, University of Ibadan, Emmanuel Odetunde, was abducted around 5 pm while working at his father’s poultry farm in Oke Odan, Apete area of Ibadan, Oyo State.

February 2:

40 people were kidnapped in a renewed bandit attack on Shiroro communities in Niger State.

The incident occurred when gunmen on motorcycles stormed four villages of Kurege, Sabon Gida, Sararai and Rafin Kanya, killing some people and abducting others.

February 10:

Unidentified gunmen kidnapped seven travellers on Benin-Warri Highway. The incident occurred at the Sapele Oghara axis.

February 15:

No fewer than 20 villagers from different communities in Rafi LGA of Niger State were kidnapped.

The bandits numbering over 50 invaded the communities on motorcycles, riding from village to village, shooting sporadically, which resulted in the killing of 11 persons, including the village head of Kusherki, Alhaji Masut Abubakar.

February 17:

42 persons out of which are 27 students were among those kidnapped from Government Science College, Kagara in Rafi LGA of Niger State.

February 20:

The driver of Adamawa United Football Club, Kabiru Mohammed, was kidnapped on Benin-Ore Highway.

February 18:

Bandits invaded communities in Shiroro, LGA of Niger State, kidnapped no fewer than 10 persons after killing two.

February 18:

Gunmen were said to have kidnapped a 91-year-old traditional ruler of Kunduru community in Katsina State.

13 others were also said to have been kidnapped in Faskari LGA of the state on their way to Funtua to access poverty alleviation loans.

February 22:

A 24-year-old-man was abducted by bandits at a popular poultry farm, at Oke Odan, Ido LGA of Oyo State. It was said that the abductors who invaded the poultry shot severally before kidnapping the victim, who is the son of the owner of the farm.

February 22:

81-year-old, Chief Bassy Iyamba was kidnapped from his house in Calabar South LGA, Cross River State.

February 23:

Also, a lecturer with the Department of Linguistics and Communication, University of Port Harcourt, Dr. Jones and a first-class traditional ruler in Rivers State were abducted by some suspected kidnappers, who also attacked journalists of the Rivers State Television, RSTV. The lecturer was kidnapped at Andoni Ogoni, Road Rivers State. The traditional ruler, King Aaron Ikuku, was kidnapped in Andoni LGA of the state.

February 24:

Scores of travellers were abducted by suspected Boko Haram members along Maiduguri-Damaturu Highway.

February 25:

No fewer than 317 students of Government Girls Science Secondary School, Jangebe, Talata Mafara LGA, Zamfara State, were abducted by bandits.

February 27:

Bandits killed six persons and kidnapped 15 others in renewed attacks on communities in two LGAs of Niger State.

One of those killed was at Pandogari town in Rafi LGA where five people were abducted while another five were murdered in Gurmana in Shiroro LGA of the state.

  • Additional report by Kennedy Mbele

Vanguard News Nigeria

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