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Nigeria's Niger Delta Kidnappings Total Nearly 130 Since 2008

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."

Cletus 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.