Nigeria’s National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, has attributed the rise in kidnapping cases to the decline in armed robbery, stating that criminals have shifted their tactics due to the reduced use of cash. Addressing participants at the All Nigeria Editors Conference (ANEC) in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State (South-South Nigeria), Ribadu highlighted the evolving nature of insecurity in the country, emphasizing the need for a concerted effort to address the challenges posed by Boko Haram, banditry, unrest in the Niger Delta, and tensions in the South East.
“These are four massive security problems, and each is capable of bringing us to our knees,” Ribadu warned. “If you have not noticed, kidnapping has replaced armed robbery. That is what is going on across the country. Now, most armed robbers have turned into kidnappers. Don’t allow insecurity to remain part of you for a long time. It will destroy you.”
Ribadu attributed the surge in kidnappings to the reduced use of physical cash, making it less attractive for criminals to engage in armed robberies. “People no longer carry cash, so armed men would rather kidnap you so you can bring the money out,” he explained.
The National Security Adviser acknowledged the challenges faced by the previous administration in addressing kidnapping, noting that nearly 600 kidnap victims were held captive for extended periods. However, he expressed optimism under the current administration of President Bola Tinubu, stating that efforts are underway to secure the release of kidnapped individuals and reduce overall insecurity.
“Going forward, we intend to run an open and transparent government. We also appeal to you (the media) for support. We are all in this together,” Ribadu asserted.
What you need to know
Kidnapping has become a major security concern in Nigeria, with reports of abductions increasing in recent years. The country has consistently ranked among the top ten nations with the highest kidnapping rates globally. In 2022, the SBM Intelligence Kidnapping Hotspot Index placed Nigeria second on the list, with an average of 2.7 kidnappings per million people.
The rise in kidnapping cases has been attributed to various factors, including economic hardship, weak law enforcement, and the porous nature of Nigeria’s borders. Criminal groups often target wealthy individuals, business owners, and expatriates, demanding high ransom payments for their release.
The Nigerian government has taken steps to address the kidnapping crisis, implementing measures such as increased security patrols, improved intelligence gathering, and negotiations with kidnappers. However, the issue remains a significant challenge, and the country continues to grapple with the consequences of widespread insecurity.