Over the course of the past week, Nigeria has witnessed a distressing escalation in the number of incidents involving mass kidnappings. Victims, taken by unidentified bandits, have been held for ransom, with their captors demanding unusually high amounts of money for their release.
This troubling trend has seen the families of the kidnapped individuals in a state of desperation, turning to social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram to raise the necessary funds. They have engaged in crowdfunding campaigns, appealing to the online community for financial assistance to meet the kidnappers’ steep demands.
To provide a clearer understanding of this grave situation, we have compiled a comprehensive overview of these incidents to provide detailed insight.
On January 6, 2024, 16 people were kidnapped along the Abuja-Kaduna road on their way back from holiday. 14 of the people kidnapped were children under the age of 15. Two of the 16 people were shot and killed as a result of their failure to meet the demands of the kidnappers.
Five sisters, along with their father, were abducted in the Bwari Area Council of Abuja on January 9, 2024. Their kidnappers demanded a sum of N60 million. When the deadline passed, and only half of the amount requested was raised, the kidnappers delivered Nabeeha’s corpse to the family at a given location. The ransom was then increased to 100 million naira, with January 17 as the new deadline.
On January 9, 2024, a distressing incident occurred in Damba Quarters, Gusau, Zamfara State, where a family of five was forcibly abducted from their residence. As of now, they remain in captivity, with their kidnappers demanding a substantial ransom of 100 million naira for their release.
Esther Otegiri, a member of the Nigerian Youth Service Corps originally from Benue State, tragically fell victim to kidnapping during her travel from Benin to Benue. Raised solely by her grandmother, as she is an orphan, Esther’s situation is particularly heartbreaking. The kidnappers have set a ransom of 50 million naira for her release.
On January 12, 2024, Praise-God, a 300-level law student at Nassarawa State University, was kidnapped, and her kidnappers are demanding a sum of five million naira for ransom.
Three 400-level Mass Communication students of Nassarawa State University, Ayeni Mary Olamide and her friends, Mary and Miriam, were kidnapped on their way to Abia State for a wedding. Their abductors are demanding the sum of 15 million naira for their release.
The issue with crowdfunding for abduction, Nigeria as a ‘failed state’
The insecurity in Nigeria remains a serious concern to all Nigerians. However, there is little to no effort made by the security authorities responsible for protecting lives and property in the country.
An estimated number of 3000 people are kidnapped every year, and northern Nigeria appears to be a hotspot for this criminal activity. The practice of crowdfunding ransoms by families and friends of kidnapped individuals has ignited a wave of concern on Twitter. Many users are commenting on the long-term viability and implications of using crowdfunding as a solution for what appears to be a systemic issue. Here’s what they had to say:
You cannot crowdfund your way out of insecurity. Neither can you crowdfund your way out of poverty, sickness, or disease. These are all unsustainable. – Dr Ify Aniebo
We are literally negotiating with terrorists in public. They are right here, tweeting among us, taking notes and planning for their next victim. Look how low we have fallen. Crowdfunding for our freedom. And we have a government that parties while we sleep with one eye open. – Uloma
Crowdfunding to pay for ransom would seem like a joke to people in other countries, but it’s the reality in Nigeria. A clear sign of leadership & security failure. – Mister Mash
The concerns raised by netizens have sparked a debate on whether Nigeria is a failed state or not. According to the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), a failed state is a state that can no longer perform its basic security and development functions and has no effective control over its territory and borders. Many are convinced that Nigeria is, in fact, a failed state.
Women and girls as vulnerable parties in Nigeria’s kidnap saga
In these recent troubling incidents of mass kidnappings, it is deeply concerning to note that women and girls form the majority of the victims. This situation places them at a heightened risk of experiencing severe forms of violence, including sexual assault and physical abuse. Such vulnerability highlights the critical need for protective measures and support for these individuals.
The prevalence of these abductions not only reflects a grave security concern. It also underscores the urgent need for comprehensive and effective strategies to combat this issue. We urge the Nigerian government to prioritise and strengthen its response to the nation’s security challenges.
This call to action emphasises the government’s need to develop and implement robust, long-term solutions to curb this alarming trend. It also needs to ensure the safety and well-being of its citizens, particularly the most vulnerable groups like women and girls.