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Insecurity: 50 foreigners kidnapped in 3 years

Over 50 foreigners have been kidnapped for ransom in Nigeria within three years.

  • Delta, Ebonyi, Cross River, Lagos, Taraba, Ekiti, Oyo lead

  • Nigeria among 10 top African countries on kidnapping map

More than  50 foreign nationals have been kidnapped for ransom in Nigeria within three years, Daily Trust on reports.

A global risk consultancy firm, Control Risks, said Nigeria had the highest rate of kidnapping in Africa, while a United States-based security consultancy outfit, Constellis, in a report, said Nigeria was among the top 10 countries in the world that were notorious for kidnapping foreign nationals for ransom.

An investigation by our reporters, including reported cases in the media between 2018 and 2020, show that those kidnapped were in Nigeria for business and diplomatic activities.

The cases exclude many abductions that have not been reported because families of the victims preferred to sort out their troubles without involving the state.

While some of the victims were carefully monitored by their abductors ahead of picking them up, others were seized by the kidnappers on highways.

Some of the kidnapped victims lost their lives while in custody or during rescue effort by security operatives.

Some Nigerian security personnel also lost their lives or sustained grievous injuries while struggling to rescue the victims of the abductions.

A timeline of the kidnaps

In 2020, 19 foreigners, mostly company workers, were taken hostage in Delta, Ebonyi, Cross River, Lagos, Taraba, Ekiti and Oyo states.

Out of the 50 foreigners kidnapped, only two Indians who were abducted recently in Ibadan, Oyo State, are still in captivity.

The two Indians were kidnapped on December 9, 2020, at a pharmaceutical firm close to the toll gate along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

Confirming the incident, the spokesman of the police in Oyo State, Olugbenga Fadeyi, said they were making effort to rescue the Indians.

There is no information so far on whether the kidnappers have made contact with the families of the expatriates.

On December 12, 2020, a Lebanese national, Hassan Mills, was kidnapped at the entrance of Panorama Farm at Mekun, Ibadan, also in Oyo State.

A soldier and a civilian who attempted to rescue him were killed in the process. However, Mills was later rescued by police operatives.

The police spokesman in the state said during the rescue operation, an army lieutenant and an officer of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) sustained bullet wounds.

The third incident happened on July 22, 2020, when four Chinese nationals were taken hostage at Oban village in Cross River State. Before taking them away, a police sergeant guarding them was killed.

It was later reported that a ransom of N22m was paid to get them released.

On March 1, 2020, two Russians and one Indian were kidnapped at Agge community in Delta State. Also, on March 29, 2020, Chinese nationals were seized by gunmen at Ihietutu community in Ebonyi State.

On August 18, 2020, the police in Niger State said they had recovered the body of a male foreign national after suspected kidnappers attacked and whisked him away at Gunna in Rafi Local Government Area. According to the Commissioner of Police in the state, Adamu Usman, the victim was kidnapped alongside a Nigerian co-worker at a construction firm.

On November 16, 2020, five crew members of a Ghanaian ship, AM DELTA, were kidnapped off Nigerian waters in Lagos.

Furthermore, on November 23, 2020, a Chinese national was kidnapped on the Donga-Mararaba Road in Taraba State. Another Chinese national was kidnapped on November 27, 2020, on Ado-Iyin Road in Ekiti State and a ransom of N100m was reportedly paid for his freedom.

In 2019, 10 Turkish sailors, five Chinese construction workers and four other Turkish nationals were kidnapped within a few months.

According to statistics obtained by Daily Trust, the first incident in 2019 took place on March 18, when kidnappers seized an Indian national, Mr. Adre Pulsin, in Jahun Local Government Area of Jigawa State.

On April 19, 2019, five Chinese construction workers were kidnapped in Bobi area of Niger State.

Two expatriates (Canadian and Scottish) were also kidnapped on April 27, 2019, at Ogbele Rig in Rivers State.

On July 16, 2020, a foreign construction worker was abducted at Inen Ekeiffe village in Akwa Ibom State. On July 10, Turkish sailors were kidnapped off the Nigerian coast in Bayelsa State.

On July 19, a construction worker was kidnapped at Inen clan in Akwa Ibom State.

On July 20, four Turkish nationals were kidnapped at Gwugwu village in Kwara State but were released after a ransom of N16m was paid. Their names are Yasin Gulak (33), Senerapal (40), Erdun Yurdakul (35) and Seyit Kelkit (25).

In 2018, expatriates were kidnapped in Kaduna, Sokoto, Zamfara, Rivers, Edo and Kogi states.

On January 18, 2018, two Americans and two Canadians were kidnapped at Kagarko in Kaduna State.

Police escorts were reportedly killed when gunmen ambushed the convoy of the foreigners before taking them captive. The spokesman of the Kaduna State Police Command, Mukhtar Aliyu, confirmed the incident.

On January 23, Mr. Thomas Arnold Peace and Henry Gideon Smith, South Africans, were kidnapped at Maidoro village in Kaduna State.

On May 16, 2018, Abdul Nadir, a Syrian engineer, was kidnapped at Lambar Mazuru in Sokoto State. On July 11, Mr. Ren Dajun, a Chinese, was kidnapped at Amumu village in Zamfara State, and on August 30, a foreigner was kidnapped at Woji community in Rivers State.

On October 6, 2018, Raeda Elsayed, an Egyptian, was kidnapped in Benin City, Edo State. On November 18, two Lebanese were kidnapped at Eika Road, Ekehi, in Kogi State and a ransom of N15m was reportedly paid.

Daily Trust on Sunday reports that many security operatives attached to the foreigners paid the supreme price in an attempt to protect them.

Why foreigners?

Security sources said foreigners were being targeted due to their high value in ransom collection.

A security expert, Sam John Nwoko, explained that, “Their employers and families don’t want to waste time to secure the release of their relatives because they don’t want to jeopardise their lives. So they pay anything to bring back their relatives.”

Nwoko said another reason was that the relatives did not have confidence “in our rescue effort even though the security operatives are doing their best as evident in the number of people they rescued over the years.”

Speaking on the implication of kidnapping foreigners, another security expert said it was discouraging Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in addition to giving Nigeria a bad image.

He further said, “It is also showing how inefficient our security operatives are, as well as lack of proper action or steps to protect the lives and property of the people in the country. It means that in Nigeria no one is safe.”

A wider picture

The kidnapping of foreign nationals is just one aspect  of the dreaded illicit activity happening across Nigerian.

Thousands of people have been kindnapped within the time under review while hundreds have been killed while in custody. Some families sold their farms, houses and other belongings to pay ransom in order to get their loved ones released.

The latest incident was the December 11 abduction of hundreds of schoolboys at Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State. The boys were released on Thursday.

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