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Kidnappers Keep Targeting Schools in Nigeria Because No One Is Stopping Them

The Map Below depicts the locations of Kidnapping incidents that occurred this week.

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There were several kidnapping incidents reported across the country this week. The high kidnapping rates can be attributed to the current increased economic hardship in Nigeria and possibly because many of the abductors often get away with it. Also, with the high unemployment rate, it is inevitable that this criminal act will continue to thrive.

The most significant kidnap case this week was that of the Nigerian Turkish International College in Isheri, Ogun State.  (Isheri is the town located on the border of Lagos and Ogun state. It is important to highlight that there have been similar kidnap attacks in schools across Lagos state, most notably the Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary, Ikorudu, Lagos and the Lagos State Model College, Epe, Lagos last year.

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These successful kidnaps reveal that school kidnaps are fast becoming a trend and a major threat. It is pivotal that the government collaborates with schools to increase policing and protective measures, so as to be better prepared in case of any future attacks.

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Residences, estates, workplaces located near the waterways or surrounded by heavy forestation are particularly susceptible to these abductions.

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Below is a March 2016 Bulwark Intelligence Analysis Summary on the Babington Macaulay School Kidnap:

In Lagos state, school children from Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary were studying for upcoming exams, when at about 8pm on Monday 29th February, about 12 gunmen stormed the school and abducted 3 girls. The gunmen demanded a ransom for the release of the girls.

The joint security teams went out and gathered information from everyone in the area. They were able to figure out which general direction the abductors went, they found the individual who registered the phones the kidnappers were using for negotiations. They traced the family members of the kidnappers and used them to coerce the abductors to release the girls. Security operatives carried out round the clock surveillance and took notice of an individual who was purchasing bulk food and heading towards the ‘area of interest’. Security operatives swooped in on him and he started talking. Within less than a week, the abducted girls were rescued.

One troubling news article however mentioned that this was not the first time the school premises had been breached. One of the apprehended gunmen stated that the group had previously attempted a kidnap in that same school but were unsuccessful when the girl they caught managed to escape. The abductors left, “went back to the drawing board”, devised and carried out a more successful kidnap plan.

The increasing kidnapping rate both in Lagos and across the country can be viewed as a law enforcement failure, as security operatives have failed to send out a forceful message on the repercussion of such crimes.

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The map above shows kidnap incidents reported in the media from August 2016 to January 2017. This map is not all encompassing because not all kidnap cases make it to the news stands. However, some insights can be gleaned from this:

  • Ikorodu is particularly notorious for kidnapping in Lagos.
  • Kidnap cases affect both the mainland and the island.
  • The incidents which take place around the waterways are frequently attributed to “Ijaw” criminals who own boats and are adept at navigating the waters around Lagos.
  • The Ijaw militant excuse does not explain the kidnap cases around land locked mainland.

Kidnapping in Lagos and Nigeria still exists because the Security Forces simply do not have a strategy to counter kidnapping in the state. Police responses so far remain reactive. In other words, arrests, if any, are made after individuals have successfully carried out kidnap for ransom.

In response to the incessant kidnapping in Lagos state, the State House of Assembly passed a bill that was aimed at checking the spate of kidnapping in the state into law, with stiffer penalties (life imprisonment) including death sentence for offenders. Although passing the bill can be seen as the government taking a step in the right direction of tackling kidnapping, a more holistic approach involving tackling socio-economic factors facilitating kidnapping is required to completely eliminate this security threat.

Until these aforementioned underlying factors are resolved by the government, the issue of kidnapping will continue to remain one of the biggest security challenges in Nigeria.

RECOMMENDATIONS TO CURB SCHOOL KIDNAP

  • Students need to be taught on how to respond in case of emergencies. The schools also need to harden their security arrangement to make they are less attractive targets.
  • Having well-lit compounds at night and the use of solar powered CCTV cameras could be beneficial.
  • Unarmed security guards within the premises should have periodical drills and have the ability to quickly contact the nearest police response team at all hours of the day. 
  • Armed security operative can carry out random patrols and inspections outside the school walls to ensure there have been no recent breaches.

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