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The Link Between Crime and Holidays in Nigeria

Kidnap reports during the week of the Eid public holiday on the 12th and 13th of September was low when compared to the previous week.

There was one kidnap incident reported that week and it occurred in Rivers state. According to news reports, kidnappers abducted a Pastor Sylvanus Ogbu, district head of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, Obele in Emohua Local Government area of Rivers state. The kidnappers broke into the house of the clergyman at about 2 a.m on Sunday, 11th September 2016 and took him to an unknown destination.

This kidnap incident took place in a state with a lower population of those who mark the holiday, and it also involved individuals who do not celebrate the Muslim holiday.

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The average kidnap related reports in the news remained high (8) in the week prior to the Eid holiday.

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The week of the Eid holiday saw low kidnap related articles in the news.

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The week following the Eid holiday, the kidnappers wasted no time in getting back to business as usual.

This “spike-dip-spike” in criminal trends in Nigeria, before during and after major public holidays, is common because criminals tend to perpetrate their crime in order to amass enough resources (money) to “celebrate the holidays”.

For example, the gang, who raided and robbed the Jos, Plateau State home of Ogenyi Onazi, defensive midfielder for the Super Eagles, when arrested confessed that “their quest for an enjoyable Sallah celebration” was the primary motivation behind the act. 

Following a lull in kidnapping activities across the country that holiday week, kidnappers once again struck in Lagos around the Lekki axis of the state.

On Saturday 17th September at approximately 8am, masked gunmen said to be between eight and 10 in number, arrived on boats and attacked Lekki Gardens Estate, kidnapping four residents. The assailants entered the community through the waterways, shooting sporadically into the air for about five minutes. They seized about nine residents who were on an early morning jogging exercise. However, only four were eventually taken away because the boat could not fit all the victims. By Sunday, the kidnappers contacted the family members of the four victims, demanding N300 million for each individual.

One of the victims was initially presumed to have escaped from captivity, however, his family later admitted that ransom was paid for his release. After the ransom payment, the victim was taken back to the estate on a boat at about 5am in the morning. The rest of the kidnapped victims were quietly released after a N12 million ransom was paid to the kidnappers by their family members.

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On the 29th September, one of the kidnappers involved in the abduction of Lekki Gardens estate was caught, while he was out and about “spending his share of the ransom”. The other members of the gang are however still at large.

Picture: One of the abductors of the Lekki Gardens Landlord was arrested in Lagos.

Kidnapping in Nigeria continues to be financially motivated which is why kidnap victims are seldom hurt while in captivity.

It remains a lucrative criminal business because family members of the kidnapped victims do not trust the police to secure the release of their loved one, and end up paying hefty ransom for the release of their loved ones.

The Nigerian police are getting better at securing the release of victims, but this unfortunately points to their strength of reactive postures as opposed to proactive strategies which can prevent such incidents to begin with. 

In the case of Lagos state, kidnappers have been using the waterways to whisk away their victims yet not much has been done to secure the waterways or surrounding communities.

Another law enforcement gap that encourages the persistence of kidnapping in Nigeria has to do with the non-tracking of individuals. In other words, the Nigerian government does not have an effective means of tracking many individuals who reside in the country today. This makes it easy for criminals to operate within the society and remain “faceless”.

Kidnapping will continue to be a menace until law enforcement become more proactive in preventative measures as well as apprehending and putting away the perpetrators.

 

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