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

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs