By Nnamdi Ojiego
Since April 2014 after the Boko Haram terrorists abducted 276 schoolgirls from their dormitories in Chibok, Borno State, mass kidnapping for ransom has gradually, become the other of the day in Nigeria.
Findings by Sunday Vanguard show that the country has witnessed staggering 111 kidnapping incidents in the last eight months, that is, from January to mid-August, 2021.
The total figure represents confirmed cases by the police and eye witnesses’ accounts eventually reported by the media.
Sunday Vanguard learned that many other unreported incidents may have taken place, especially in Niger, Zamfara, Sokoto, and Katsina states (North-West and North-Central) where banditry is raging. Thus, the sum total may well be above 111 if all cases were captured.
The highest number of kidnap cases (27), was recorded in February with 605 victims. This was closely followed by July (23) and January (21) with 327 and 284 victims respectively.
The situation was made worse due to alleged breakdown of security architecture in the country especially in the North-West and North-East.
Security experts say the inability of the Federal Government, through the security agencies, to stem the development has led to a surge in kidnapping and banditry.
According to the experts, armed bandits have taken advantage of weak security presence to continue their reign of terror on schools, villages and highways.
According to a report by SBM Intelligence, an average of 13 persons were abducted daily in Nigeria in the first half of 2021, thereby underscoring how common and daring the criminals have become.
The findings, which covered Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones, South-West, South -East, South-South, North-Central, North-East and North-West, and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, represent the reported cases.
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 highways emerged as the latest mode 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.
Some of the dangerous roads 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.
In the South-West where herdsmen have been accused of most of the incidents, victims were often abducted on highways and farms.
Sunday Vanguard notes that after each mass abduction, state and federal governments condemn the attack in strong terms, with promises to rescue abductees.
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.
Kidnapping: Fast growing industry
Sunday Vanguard investigations also showed that about N11.415 billion was demanded as ransom for kidnapped victims across the country.
Kidnapping has become commonplace and a sort of business to bandits and other criminal elements who raid, kill and mass kidnap for ransom, particularly of school children.
It is a fast growing industry and has remained the most virulent form of banditry in the country.
Recent reports have shown that criminals are often driven by financial motives to kidnap children and others and hold them for ransom.
Attacks on schools
Nigeria’s kidnap-for-ransom industry is growing, and it’s not just the well-off who are at risk.
The new targets are poor villagers and ordinary schoolchildren.
Since the well-publicised abduction in 2014 of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok by Boko Haram terrorists in Borno State, more armed groups have resorted to mass abduction of students.
Authorities say recent attacks on schools, especially in the North-West, have been carried out by bandits, who are largely motivated by money.
The timeline below shows how thriving kidnapping has become in Nigerians
August 3, 2021: Police kill three kidnappers, rescue commissioner’s wife and driver in Benue
August 5, 2021: Bandits kidnap father of Zamfara Assembly Speaker, five others
August 9, 2021: Gunmen kidnap Niger Commissioner for Information
August 9, 2021: Pastor, wife, 27 others kidnapped in Kwara
August 12, 2021: Gunmen abduct ex-councillor’s wife, 7-month-old son in Zamfara
July 3, 2021: Bandits abduct 7 women, 4 children along Birnin Gwari Road
July 5, 2021: Boko Haram abducts Rev. Fr. Elijah Juma Wada of Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri.
July 5, 2021: Gunmen attack National Leprosy and Tuberculosis Centre in Kaduna, kidnap 8
July 5, 2021: 150 students abducted from Kaduna school
July 6, 2021: Gunmen kidnap 4 farmers in Ekiti
July 8, 2021: 16 kidnapped by gunmen in Damishi, Kaduna State
July 8, 2021: Bandits demand N220 million as ransom for 11 persons abducted from Anguwan Gimbiya, a suburb of Kaduna State
July 11, 2021: Emir of Kajuru, 13 family members, aides, kidnapped in Kaduna
July 13, 2021: Kogi monarch kidnapped
July 14, 2021: Wife of former LGA Chairman kidnapped in Jigawa
July 16, 2021: Former Provost Marshal of the Nigerian Army, Maj. Gen. Hussaini Ahmed, killed, in-law kidnapped by bandits along Lokoja-Abuja highway.
July 18, 2021: Bandits kill one, abduct 7 in attack in Kaduna
July 18, 2021: Bandits attack two vehicles, abduct six occupants around Bade forest in Kaduna
July 19, 2021: Gunmen kidnap medical doctor in Kogi
July 19, 2021: Five kidnap suspects set ablaze in Edo
July 19, 2021: Gunmen hijack boat, abduct 5 maritime union workers, 3 others in Rivers
July 19, 2021: Armed herders abduct, kill 2 aid workers, Gov Ortom’s relation, 5 others in Benue
July 21, 2021: Kidnappers abduct 38-year-old man in Jigawa
July 21, 2021: Bayelsa SSG’s mother kidnapped
July 25, 2021: Gunmen hijack 3 buses, kill 2, abduct 60 passengers in Sokoto
July 26, 2021: Bandits abduct monarch in Kaduna, demand N100m ransom
July 30, 2021: Unknown gunmen kidnap night club operator in Bayelsa
June 2, 2021: 200 pupils of the Salihu Tanko Islamiyya School in Tegina, Niger State abducted.
June 4, 2021: Bandits kidnap 2 Kaduna nurses
June 8, 2021: Kidnappers abduct Abuja tailor, Mary Adi
June 9, 2021: Abductors kidnap Dr Dan Ella, a lecturer in the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Jos.
June 14, 2021: Ekiti farmer, Jimoh Olodan, kidnapped
June 17, 2021: Armed bandits strike, abduct students at Federal Government College, Birnin Yauri, Kebbi State.
June 28, 2021: Ekiti monarch, Oba Benjamin Oso, kidnapped
June 28, 2021: One Lukman Ibrahim kidnapped, pregnant wife killed in Offa, Kwara State
June 30, 2021: Bandits kidnap students of Bethel Baptist School, Kaduna; and Peter Jediel, the Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress in Taraba State
May 2, 2021: Kogi council chairman abducted
May 12, 2021: Ondo graduate abducted
May 16, 2021: Ondo pastor, Otamayomi Ogedengbe kidnapped
May 29, 2021: Katsina Sharia Court Judge, Alkali Hussaini Sama’ila, kidnapped
May 30, 2021: Armed gang abducts over 100 students from an Islamic school in Niger State
May 30, 2021: Nasarawa State House of Assembly member, Ismail Danbaba, abducted in Kaduna
April 6, 2021: Kidnappers kill Lagos-based pastor in Ondo after collecting N2m ransom
April 7, 2021: Kidnappers abduct 2 Chinese miners in Osun State
April 19, 2021: Masked armed men kidnap 2 Fulani in Oke-Ogun, Oyo State
April 20, 2021: Gunmen kidnap 20 students, 2 staff members of Greenfield University, Kaduna
April 23, 2021: Ekiti traditional ruler, Oba David Oyewumi, abducted
April 26, 2021: Three kidnapped construction workers in Ondo released
April 27, 2021: Nursing mother, 8 others in Ogbomoso, Oyo State abducted
March 8, 2021: Bandits kidnap 30 in Rafi LGA of Niger State
March 11, 2021: Gunmen kidnapped 39 College of Forestry, Afaka, Kaduna
March 23, 2021: Gunmen kidnap FCTA staff members, 3 others
March 28, 2021: Abductors of RCCG members in Kaduna demand N50m ransom
March 29, 2021: Kidnappers of Sarkin Hausa younger brother in Osun demand N50 million ransom
February 1: Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Arwan, says some people abducted when bandits attacked Barawa village, Fatika District, in Giwa LGA of the state.
February 1: Peace Ogbogbo, wife of an Ughelli businessman in Ughelli North LGA, Delta State, kidnapped
February 2: The police in Abuja confirm abduction of John Makama, father of Gwari Local Council Chairman
February 2: 40 people kidnapped in a renewed bandit attack on Shiroro communities in Niger State
February 6: A farmer, Solomon Akinmeji in Iju Akure North Council Area of Ondo State, kidnapped
February 9: Gunmen attack ambulance conveying a corpse, killing an occupant and abducting one at Ahor, Benin Bye-pass, Edo State
February 9: Jimoh Folowosele, an indigene of Aramoko Ekiti, in Ekiti West LGA, abducted while on official duty in Geidam, a border town in Yobe State
February 9: A 46-year-old tipper lorry owner in Ilorin, Alhaji Musa Atere, kidnapped along Ogundele/Madi Road in Ilorin LGA of Kwara State.
February 10: Unidentified gunmen kidnap seven travellers on Benin-Warri Highway at Sapele Oghara axis
February 13: The traditional ruler of Uruagu, Nnewi, Anambra State abducted. The victim, Obi Charles Afam Obi, kidnapped in Orafite on his way back from a burial ceremony
February 13: Bandits kidnap 13 persons in Faskari LGA of Katsina on their way to Funtua to access poverty alleviation loans
February 14: 18 persons abducted by bandits, who ambushed a passenger bus in Rah LGA of Niger State
February 15: No fewer than 20 villagers from different communities in Rafi LGA of Niger State kidnapped.
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 18: Bandits invade communities in Shiroro, LGA of Niger State, kidnapped no fewer than 10 persons after killing two
February 18: Gunmen kidnap 91-year-old traditional ruler of Kunduru community in Katsina State
February 20: The driver of Adamawa United Football Club, Kabiru Mohammed, kidnapped on Benin-Ore Highway
February 21: University of Ibadan student, Emmanuel Odetunde, abducted around while working at his father’s poultry farm in Oke Odan, Apete area of Ibadan, Oyo State
February 22: 81-year-old, Chief Bassy Iyamba, kidnapped from his house in Calabar South LGA, Cross River State
February 23: Lecturer at the Department of Linguistics and Communication, University of Port Harcourt, Dr. Jones, and traditional ruler in Rivers State abducted by suspected kidnappers, who also attacked journalists of the Rivers State Television, RSTV.
February 24: Scores of travellers 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, abducted by bandits.
February 27: Bandits kill six persons and kidnapped 15 others in attacks on communities in two LGAs of Niger State.
JANUARY 4: Kidnappers abduct Senior Protection Assistant with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, UNHCR, Abubakar Idris, along Damaturu Road, Borno State
January 4: Gunmen kidnap 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 attacked by bandits, who kidnapped village head, Alhaji Ibrahim Abdul, a nurse and her two kids.
January 5: No fewer than 40 persons kidnapped in Birnin Gwari, Kaduna State, according to Birnin Gwari Progressive Union
January 5: Gunmen kill one person, abduct over 20 others along Mungi Buga in Gwari Gadabule village in Toto LGA, Nasarawa State
January 5: Traveller abducted, driver killed along Ise Isua -Akoko Highway, Ondo State
January 6: Fashion designer’s apprentice in Ondo town, Ondo State, kidnaps lover’s three month–old- baby girl
January 5: Zamfara State Police Command says 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, abducted by gunmen at his residence in Ugwurutali, Ikwere LGA.
January 13: Gunmen kidnap four nursing mothers alongside 14 others in Mando village, Birnin Gwari LGA, Kaduna State.
January 14: Ekiti-based petrol dealer, Suleiman Akinbami, kidnapped
January 15: A kidnap attempt claimed the lives of Alhaji Yinusa Gambo and Mallam Surajo at Chikaji village, Igabi LGA, Kaduna State
January 20: Dean, Faculty of Science and Education and Head of Department of Mathematics, Federal University Dutsin-Ma, Katsina State, Professor Johnson Fatokun, abducted along Akwanga-Keffi highway at Kurmi Shinkafa village
January 23: 25-year-old son of Bauchi State Auditor-General, Ziilkifiru Muhammed, escapes 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.
January 24: Bandits invade Kafin Koro and adjourning villages in Paikoro LGA of Niger State, kill five persons and abduct one while 10 others sustain various degrees of injury.
January 24: A spokesperson for Nigeria Immigration Service, Edo State Command, Mrs. Bridget Esene, kidnapped by unknown gunmen in Benin. She says her abductors sold her to herdsmen.
January 25: Kidnappers attack 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, is 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, says four persons 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, abducted by gunmen
January 28: 83 persons including 27 wedding guests abducted along Wukari- Takum Road in Taraba State. 56 kidnapped in Niger State.