Bulwark Intelligence



Kidnapping has become a pervasive and alarming issue in Nigeria, posing a significant threat to both national security and the safety of its citizens. Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa, has long grappled with security challenges. While insurgency by groups like Boko Haram and communal conflicts have been significant concerns, the surge in kidnapping incidents has added a new layer of complexity to the nation’s security woes. Kidnapping has grown into a multi-faceted problem, affecting all regions of the country to varying degrees.

Motivations Behind Kidnappings

Kidnapping incidents in Nigeria are driven by a mix of economic, political, and social factors. This includes economic desperation and financial gain. High unemployment rates, poverty, and income inequality have pushed individuals towards criminal activities like kidnapping as a means of survival. Furthermore, criminal gangs and militias resort to kidnapping for ransom as a lucrative source of income. Victims, often targeted based on perceived affluence, are held captive until their families pay a substantial ransom.

Weak Law Enforcement and Judicial System

A lack of effective law enforcement and corruption within the security scene and judicial system has allowed kidnapping to thrive. Kidnappers often operate with impunity, and cases are frequently mishandled or go uninvestigated. Also, the lack of cooperation between security bodies has made sharing of intelligence difficult.

The trend of Kidnap incidents from April to September 2023 (Q2 -Q3)

Data Source: Bulwark Intelligence Database. The above line chart shows an estimated number of kidnapped victims from March – September of Q2 and Q3 of 2023. Analysis shows the North Central region recorded the highest number of kidnap victims in April while the North West region recorded the highest number of kidnapped victims from May through September.

In Quarter 2 at least 528 people were kidnapped and an estimated 396 people were kidnapped in Quarter 3. However, the last Quarter is likely to see a rise in kidnap cases. This may not be unrelated to the upcoming festive period where crime rates are likely to increase. It should be noted that due to the problem of underreporting, some incidents may have been missed hence, the data used for the visualization and the statistics is an estimated number.

Noteworthy kidnap incidents that occurred across the country in September 2023

  • 19 people including a Seminarian were kidnapped by armed men in Sabon Kawu, Bwari Area Council, Abuja on 8 September.
  • An estimated 50 locals were kidnapped by bandits who ambushed vehicles en route to Bagega village along the Anka-Baggega Road near Darita Forest, Anka LGA, Zamfartravelersn 9 September.
  • 30 people were reportedly kidnapped by bandits who attacked farmland in Giyawa, Goronyo LGA, Sokoto State on 14 September.
  • Approximately 14 travellers were kidnapped on 15 September by suspected Indigenous People of Biafra-Eastern Security Network (IPOB-ESN) members along Enugu-Nsukka Road, Opi, Nsukka LGA, Enugu State.
  • On 22 September, more than 24 Federal University students were kidnapped by bandits from the Local campus accommodation, located in Sabon Gida village, Gusau LGA, Zamfara State.
  • On 29 September, 25 people were kidnapped between Ipele junction and Ifon in the Ose Local Government Area of Ondo State.


Kidnapping in Nigeria represents a complex security challenge driven by a combination of economic, social, and political factors. Tackling this issue requires a multifaceted approach, including law enforcement reforms, economic empowerment, public awareness campaigns, and regional cooperation. With concerted efforts and a commitment to addressing the root causes, Nigeria can hope to reduce the incidence of kidnapping and enhance its security landscape.


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