About $18.34m has been paid by families, friends and loved ones of kidnap victims in Nigeria in the last nine years, a new report by SBM Intelligence has shown.

The report titled 'Nigeria’s Kidnap Problem': The Economics of the Kidnap Industry in Nigeria, highlighted that a large proportion of the amount (just below $11m) was paid out between January 2016 and March 2020.

The report said, “SBM Intelligence analysed data covering the period from June 2011 to the end of March 2020 using a collection of public sources, police and media reports, as well as SBM’s extensive research network spread across the country. What we have found shows that between June 2011 and the end of March 2020, at least $18.34m has been paid to kidnappers as ransom. 

“Even more frightening is that the larger proportion of that figure ( just below $11m) was paid out between January 2016 and March 2020, indicating that kidnapping is becoming more lucrative."

The report listed Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers, as three of the top 10 states with the highest number of reported kidnap incidents in Nigeria.

Kaduna State was listed in the report as having the second highest rate of kidnapping incidents in Nigeria while Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, occupies 11th position.

The report added, “In terms of the absolute number of reported kidnap incidents, four of the top 10 states with a high number of kidnap incidents over the last decade are in the South-South geopolitical zone, with three of them, Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers being a part of the Niger Delta. These three are also the states with the strongest history of Niger Delta militancy. 

“Kaduna – the state with the second highest number of incidents – also has a significant history of violence especially along its connecting road to Abuja. While it is not in the top 10, Abuja has the 11th highest number of kidnap incidents over the last decade, and there is anecdotal evidence that some of the perpetrators responsible for Kaduna’s high rate of kidnap attempts have extended their operations into the federal capital.

“The states with the highest number of fatalities are in the North, and they all have ongoing violence from other sources in common. It would appear that such existing violence has made the kidnaps much deadlier in these places. Our conclusion is that where existing violence and/or historic violent norms have devalued human lives, crimes such as kidnapping tend to result in more fatalities.

“This becomes even clearer when we organise the list to show the average number of fatalities per kidnap attempt. Once this is done, all the Niger Delta states fall from the top eight. All but one of the top eight falls within the North, with Lagos being the only Southern state featuring. It would appear that in the South, while kidnapping may be frequent, the selection of victims is more targeted and the kidnappers see it more as a business transaction, trying hard to extract money from their criminal activities.

"This targeted approach makes their victims less expendable as they are usually fewer in number at a time. In the North, the modus operandi is more likely that a larger number of people are simply rounded up and then ransoms demanded en masse. Because of this approach, victims that are unable to pay up as quickly as expected are more likely to be killed by the kidnappers. Seven other states had no fatalities even though kidnap incidents were recorded in these states.

“The high fatality rate of kidnap attempts in Borno and Adamawa states can be directly linked with the activities of the Boko Haram terrorist group, which is responsible for most of the attempts and a few others linked to Fulani herdsmen militia.

"However, the data of fatalities per attempt for the other Northern states reveals that until late 2018, the fatalities were relatively low as kidnap attempts were targeted at specific intended victims (mostly politically-exposed persons, business people and their close relatives, or expatriates). This data takes into account only victims, and discounts suspected kidnappers killed by security forces in various skirmishes or rescue attempts.”

DOCUMENT: Nigeria’s Kidnap Problem by Sahara Reporters on Scribd

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