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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact 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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs