Nigerian security officials say over 128 persons have been
kidnapped by Niger Delta militants since last year – including men, women and
children…and both Nigerian citizens and foreigners. Nigeria's inspector general
of police, Mike Okiro, says out of that number, one hostage was killed, another
had his fingers chopped off and 126 were released unhurt. Okiro warns
that more foreigners may be seized in the coming days. But he
says the government will further beef up security in the oil-rich region
following the militants' rejection of amnesty by President Umaru Yar'Adua.
Obum Cletus is a
community leader in the Delta. He says the government grossly understated the
number of those kidnapped to score political points. "It is part of the
systemic underplay of a very serious national crisis. It still tells us the
government's lack of political will to steam down the agitation of the Niger
Delta people. One hundred twenty-eight is a highly conservative and highly
economical (number), truth to tell, especially coming from the chief security
officer of the federation. I think that figure is clearly a political figure
that does not represent the true picture."
says the kidnapping that began in the Delta is spreading to other corners of
the country because the authorities have not done enough to solve the problem. "I
can give you a figure and tell you that inasmuch as the government admits there
is kidnapping and as much as I know coming from this place and on a daily
basis, the spread and the intensity of kidnappings and all that in the Delta have
reached a figure and a proportion that can no longer be quantified in terms of
lives and property.