Kidnap seems to be the new red-hot ‘business’ in Nigeria now. You abduct a wealthy person, and in a week or two, you have collected a ransom in the millions. Imagine the kind of legitimate work you have to do to make that kind of money!

Senator Iyabode Anisulowo is the latest case in the spate of unending kidnap cases in Nigeria. Very many prominent Nigerians have been kidnapped in the past, including the mother of a servicing minster and the Uncle of a former President.

This national embarrassment seems to have got out of hand, and may actually serve as a disincentive for foreign direct investment.

With the way the economy is, with the horde /army of unemployed people (police recruitment), with companies downsizing, certainly, the level of criminality (including kidnapping) is bound to increase. And with the speed with which a lot of money can be made, the kidnap market can only get bigger, unless something drastic is done about it.

A former Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association (Okey Wali) was interviewed on TV about his kidnap experience. He said those who kidnapped him spoke impeccable English, and added they were compelled to go into kidnapping because they have not been able to secure a job, for years, after leaving the University.

This is not atypical.

The kidnap trend in Nigeria has been on an upwardly exponential swing, with a Television Station plotting a bar graph to depict a ‘no kidnap’ situation just ten years ago, to a situation where over a thousand are being kidnapped in a single year in Nigeria now.

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Kidnapping originally started in Nigeria in the Niger Delta region. The militants were not kidnapping, for money, at inception. They kidnapped oil workers and expatriates to press home their demands for a less decimated environment, etc. Eventually, they realized easy money can be made from it, and that was how ‘kidnap for ransom’ started. Of course, the kidnapping racket quickly spread to other parts of the country – from Nassarawa to Abakaliki, from Ikorodu to Damaturu.

It would appear kidnapping is gradually replacing high level armed robbery in the country.

The horse has certainly run out of the barn, galloping down the road, a danger to all and sundry.

The school children abducted as sex slaves by Boko Haram and the political kidnappings are not the focus here (although kidnap is kidnap, no matter the motive). Kidnap for ransom, the genesis, the causes, and how it can be tackled, is the primary focus.

It would appear that the kidnapping incidents have escalated because abductors are mostly getting away with it, and the risk / reward ratio tilts more favorably toward the reward. Compared to armed robbery, and Advanced Fees Fraud (419) activities, kidnap would be a low hanging fruit for desperate, criminally minded jobless youths, in pursuit of quick money, to latch on to.


Possible solutions.

On a personal level, be more security aware. Educate your wards. Vary your daily routine. Treat your household staff well. Learn to be circumspect, discreet. Don’t talk indiscriminately. Avoid late night movements.

These would reduce (somewhat) your likelihood of you or your loved one being kidnapped, but really guarantees nothing.

On a national level, if productivity level is increased , more youths are gainfully employed by being taken off the streets (placed in, school or have things doing), the menace should reduce.

More significantly, if the yawning gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘havenots’ reduce somehow, you may also find the kidnapping level reduce drastically. This can be started by discouraging and not celebrating inexplicable sudden wealth. Our places of worship is a good place to start executing, and propagating this idea.

Meanwhile, a society where too few people have too much access to all the opportunities can only drive the more desperate ‘havenots’ into taking a piece of their ‘national cake’ by hook or by crook, through criminality like kidnapping, armed robberies, etc.

Let us individually and collectively build an equitable and egalitarian society. A tall order, but it begins with the man in the mirror.

Yes, you!

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