News / Africa

Nigeria Kidnappings and Lawlessness Increasing

Nigerian policemen providing security against kidnapping rings. (File Photo)
Nigerian policemen providing security against kidnapping rings. (File Photo)
Anne Look

This week's kidnapping of 15 schoolchildren in the Niger Delta region is the most recent example of rising criminality and insecurity in Nigeria that could pose a threat to holding free and fair elections next year.  

Gunmen hijacked a school bus on Monday in Nigeria's southeastern state of Abia and reportedly are demanding more than $100,000 in ransom for the 15 children on board.

Abia state is in the country's oil-rich Niger Delta.  The region has increasingly been plagued by reports of kidnapping and crimes such as hijacking and armed robbery in recent years.

Nigeria's minister of police affairs, Adamu Maina Waziri, says negotiations are underway with the childrens' kidnappers and that security forces are rolling out new strategies to curb what he calls the "pervasive" problem of kidnapping in the country.

"Measures have been put in place," said Adamu Maina Waziri. "And in the next 90 to 120 days, we will be able to deal decisively with kidnapping in that our capability and capacity to intervene in issues of kidnapping are going to be enhanced with training and other ways that we are looking forward to."

In the run-up to nationwide elections next year, President Goodluck Jonathan has made fighting kidnapping a government priority.  In an address at the inauguration of new chiefs of Nigeria's armed forces earlier this month, Mr. Jonathan called for them to partner with local authorities.

"Nigeria is facing the worst internal security challenges," said President Jonathan. "Every day, we have kidnapping and some militia to arise in one part of the country or the other.  You must work collectively with the police to ensure that we put this ugly part of Nigerian history behind us as soon as possible.  The government will do everything to support you."

Although kidnappers in the Delta region typically have targeted foreign oil workers, like the three French workers who were abducted from an offshore rig last week, they are increasingly abducting Nigerians.

Doctors, journalists, politicians and their relatives have been among those taken in recent months, although most were released after ransoms were paid.

But there are concerns that rising insecurity and intimidation in the Delta could disrupt Nigeria's efforts to hold free and fair presidential, legislative and local elections.

This month, Nigeria's House of Representatives considered imposing the death penalty for convicted kidnappers.  And President Jonathan proposed forming an elite strike force to go after kidnappers and armed groups.

Sources in the Delta region say government support is needed, as local police can be outgunned and lack the necessary resources to go after well-trained kidnappers.

Delta state police command spokesman Charles Muka says the police have been successful in arresting kidnappers, but he welcomes government support.

"The problem we have is a shortage of the wherewithal to do the job," said Charles Muka. "Happily, the federal government has promised to aid us in provisions of these facilities and, once that is done, be sure that criminals cannot have their way in this state."

Residents of the Delta blame unemployment and corruption for ongoing criminality.  They say the issue of kidnapping is rooted in the turbulence and frustration that has characterized the oil-rich region in recent years.

Nigerian human-rights monitor Casely Omon-Ihabor says the kidnappings started as a way to draw national and international attention to the difficulties of communities living in the region.

"But now, it has spread all over the country," said Casely Omon-Ihabor. "It has become a very lucrative business for jobless youth.  I tell you, if these youth were employed, they would not be kidnapping.  But because they are not employed, because they are idle and not just idle, they are armed."

Some kidnappers are criminal groups seeking money; others are armed militants with a host of demands that include more jobs, reduced corruption and a sharing of the nation's oil wealth generated in the Delta.

Nigeria is one of the world's largest oil producers, but most Nigerians live on less than $1 a day.

Nigerian political analyst Adekunle Amuwo says kidnapping has grown out of the decades-old question of resource control and the tensions between the haves and the have-nots.

"What the oil-bearing states of the Niger Delta see is that they are getting nothing from the resources that are being taken from their region," said Adekunle Amuwo. "So what criminality has done today, it is a generated form of the resource control fight and contestation because the issue was allowed to fester for too long."

Kidnapping, Amuwo says, needs to be addressed as a symptom of more serious, systemic problem in Nigeria.  

You May Like

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid