In Nigeria, armed groups kidnapped at least 3,620 persons between July 2022 and June 2023, with a ransom of N5 billion demanded, according to a report by an Africa-focused geopolitical risk research organisation, SBM Intelligence, released yesterday.
An SB Morgan intelligence report released on August 23, 2023, entitled, “The Economics of Nigeria’s Kidnap Industry: Follow the Money,” disclosed these figures.
According to the report, at least, N5 billion ($6.4 million as of June 30) was reported as ransom demand, while verified ransom payouts amounted to N302 million ($387,179), a figure potentially underestimated due to underreporting.
The Nigeria Police Force and the military high command – the Defence Headquarters, however, have gone silent over the heart-wrenching situation, while security experts called on the Office of the National Security Adviser currently headed by the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, AIG Nuhu Ribadu (retd.), to declare a state of emergency to curb the disturbing situation.
We believe these numbers could be far higher than reported. This is because victims’ families and the police often choose not to state whether or not a ransom was paid to procure release of the abducted, and in the few cases, when ransom payments are acknowledged, the fees are hardly disclosed,” the report stated.
It said the figures reflect Nigeria’s security agencies’ struggle to contain kidnap for ransom. “Yet, the number of kidnappers killed has not served as a credible deterrent for would-be kidnappers.”
The number is more than the 3,420 people kidnapped between the period of July 2021 and June 2022.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the country’s inflation, which measures the rate of increase of commodity prices quickened to a near 18-month high at 24.08 per cent in July 2023; and unemployment, at a record high of 33.3 per cent as at 2020 has heightened insecurity in the country.
The World Bank said in July that inflation pushed an estimated four million more Nigerians into poverty in the first five months of this year. SBM projects that the current harsh economic climate is likely to lead to a hike in ransom demands, endangering the lives of victims whose families cannot meet exorbitant requests.