Headline Feb 01, 2015/ ''' EXPRESS KIDNAPPINGS ''' OF NIGERIA.


WHEN LAGOS police arrested a gang of ten kidnappers a year or so ago, one of them explained that:

He held his Chinese boss for three days because he felt unfairly treated. He devised a plan with his driver to abduct his boss; they extorted  $51,000 from the company.

Another man said he kidnapped a friend out of jealousy, keeping him for two days before freeing him for $ 3,000.

Driving home through the darkness on September 6, 2013, towards Nigeria's main oil city, Port Hartcourt, Archbishop Ignatius Kattey and his wife had no idea that armed gang was about to nab them.

Yet it was not an extraordinary event. The kidnapping of Nigeria's second-ranking Anglican cleric, was just another instance, albeit at a higher level than usual, of a crime that residents of a swampy Niger Delta have become grimly accustomed to.

Kidnappings in the oil region is invariably for ransom. Foreign oilmen used to be the usual targets, but rich Nigerian businessmen, prominent academics and even footballers have become increasingly vulnerable.

Over the years,  the kidnap menace  has also got a lot worse in Lagos, Nigeria's largest city and its economic hub.

There are so many abductions across the country nowadays that they rarely get into the news. During the first half of 2013, Nigeria had the most kidnap attempts in the world, accounting for 26% of all such recorded incidents.

Mexico was second with  10%   and  Pakistan third with  7%, reckons NYA International, a London based firm that gathers intelligence on crime 

''This year's tally of kidnaps is expected to be higher in Nigeria than in 2012 and 2011,  when 500  and  475  were recorded respectively,''  says a security expert. But the true figures may still be higher.

''Half of all cases are not reported, with some people preferring to handle matters privately,'' he explains.

Because people have little faith in the police's ability to arrest the perpetrators or negotiate with them, the victim's family invariably resorts to settling quickly with the criminals.

In some of Nigeria's  36 states  there has been progress in tackling the kidnappers.

But beefed-up security in some south-eastern states, such as Akwa, Ibom and Abia, may have merely pushed the gangs westward to cities such as Lagos, where burgeoning middle-class districts are being increasingly targeted.

A flashy car and swanky suit can be enough to catch a villain's eye.

In  ''express kidnappings'' , as they are dubbed, victims are rarely kept for more than a fortnight; most of them are freed,  after the cash has been handed over, in three or four days.

''It's a new way of making money in Lagos, says the security expert. ''But now it's all to easy.''

It is against Nigerian law to pay ransoms, but most people and companies cough up, though many deny doing so. Captors usually start with huge demands before being haggled down.

Settlements of $ 12,000 - 30,000 are standard, though there have been instances of people getting away with as little as $600.

The kidnappers who snatched Mike Ozekhome, a human-rights lawyer, in August 2013, initially asked for the Nigerian equivalent of $915,000.

Until policing improves and people refuse to pay, the scourge of kidnapping will persist   -and the best of lawyers and churchmen will be vulnerable.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of Nigeria. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

'' Must It Get Worse Before It Gets Better ''

'''Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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