GENERAL

Countries with highest kidnapping risk

22 September An article in the Toronto Star newspaper gave the six countries where people are most likely to be kidnapped as:
Nigeria: The Canadian Government has a warning in place advising against travel to 15 states citing the risk of terrorism, intercommunal clashes, crime and “the heightened risk of kidnapping”.
India: Nearly 70,000 were kidnapped last year. Among this figure is an epidemic of missing children, many ultimately falling prey to traffickers who hold them for ransom, exploit for sex, force into labour or sell into marriage. A small number of high profile foreigners have also been kidnapped.
Pakistan: According to a 2014 US State Department risk assessment, the kidnapping of both Pakistani citizens and foreign nationals continues to “increase dramatically nationwide”.
Mexico: In 2013 official figures stated that there were 1,583 kidnappings but the country’s own statistics bureau estimated that more than 100,000 incidents were not reported.
Libya: Motivations include kidnap for ransom and sectarian murder. Victims have included teachers from India, construction workers from Italy and Christians from Ethiopia and other countries.
The Philippines: Kidnapping is mainly concentrated in the south around Zamboanga, southwest Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago. There were 150 cases in 2013 many were for ransom including those attributed to the militant group, Abu Sayyaf.

AFRICA

Libya

6 September The family of Taha Buishi, Chief Executive of SamSerj a company that claims to have authority from the Libyan government to trace assets hidden by former President Muammar Gaddafi, alleged that Buishi together with the company lawyer, Omran Jarbiou, were kidnapped on 9 August at Al Abraq Airport, Bayda, by a group known as Washington African Consulting Group (WACG). WACG has claimed it was mandated to repatriate money that is believed to be in South Africa. The victim’s daughter, Sarna, said she believed the group are responsible for the kidnapping as they had twice made death threats. She added that both men’s cell phones were switched off in a very strange way as they entered the departure area of the airport and she believed they were kidnapped by militias. Last year the South African Sunday Independent reported how about R2 trillion (USD16 billion), hundreds of tons of gold and 6 million carats of diamonds were ferried to South Africa during Gaddafi’s last days.

16 September Two Indian nationals identified as Pravash Ranjan Samal, from Odisha, and Ramamurthy Kosanam, from Andhra Pradesh, were kidnapped from Ibn-e-Sina in Sirte which is under the control of the Islamic State militants. The Indian Mission in Tripoli was trying to confirm the circumstances surrounding the incident. In August, four Indian nationals from a Sirte University were kidnapped by Islamic State militants. Two were subsequently released but the other two are still being held.

Nigeria

4 September His Royal Highness Chief Benjamin Weke (85), Paramount Ruler of Gbarantoru community in Yenagoa Local Government Community, Bayelsa State, was kidnapped from his residence in the state capital by four heavily armed gunmen at about 1:00am. The kidnappers took their victim along a footpath at the rear of the residence to the waterside and escaped in a speedboat. A source speaking in confidence said the kidnappers had sent a letter to the victim on 1 July warning him they were planning his kidnapping.

4 September The Ekiti State Executive Council proposed anti-kidnapping law that condemns any individual convicted of kidnapping in the state to life imprisonment and all moveable properties used by kidnappers to be confiscated by the government. The bill has been forwarded to the House of Assembly for ratification. Kidnapping reached alarming levels in the state during May and June.

4 September Right Reverend Moses Bukpe-Tabwayen, Bishop of Gwagalada Diocese, in Abuja, was kidnapped as he travelled to a church meeting at Onitsha, Anambra State. Police recovered the victim’s Jeep with the engine still running along the Onicha-Ugbo/Ewhohimi road just outside Abuja. The kidnappers later made contact and demanded a ransom of N40 million (USD201,000).

5 September Chief Asuquo Ekpenyong Ekpe (80), the elder brother of former Director General of Department State Security (DSS), Ita Ekpenyong, was kidnapped along with his wife from his residence in Odukpani Local Council, Cross River State, during the early hours of the morning. The Chief’s wife was later released. The kidnappers, whose number was reported to be six, gained access to the area in a boat along a shallow creek. Unconfirmed reports stated that the kidnappers had made a ransom demand of N300 million (USD1.51 million) through “informal means”. On 19 September, sources close to neighbours of the missing Chief said that the kidnappers have neither communicated with the family nor demanded any ransom contradicting earlier reports.

6 September An article on kidnapping for ransom in Nigeria in Gbooza, a publication covering African Social News Network and Events, stated that kidnapping as a significant crime can be traced back to 2006 in the Niger Delta and is now increasing at a rapid rate. In 2011, the number of recorded kidnappings was put at about 500 which reduced slightly in 2012 to 475 but is now very high in parts of the country. The article added that published incidents are only the tip of the iceberg as many families prefer not to involve the police to assist in the rescue of kidnapped family members. According to Gbooza, many factors are responsible for kidnapping including the craze for illicit wealth, a culture of non-interrogation of the sources of wealth of citizens and an obscene adulation of the rich. These factors and the failure to apprehend and make a good example of kidnappers in many parts of the country to deter other people from the crime, have turned criminal activity into an easy business in which millions of naira can be made overnight.

7 September Mrs. Oluwatoyin Nwosu, the wife of the Deputy Managing Director of Sun Newspaper, Steve Nwosu, was kidnapped from her Okota, Lagos, home at about 1:30am by seven armed men who forced an entry. Three members of the gang apparently scaled the fence and gained access to the compound while four others kept watch outside the compound. The kidnappers took their victim to the Amuwo Odolfin canal where a speedboat was waiting and sped off. The kidnappers demanded N100 million (USD502,500) for the victim’s release. Soon after 2:00am on 17 September, the kidnappers dumped the victim on the FESTAC Town-Amuwo Odolfin link-bridge before speeding away in their speedboat. The family and police refused to disclose how much of the N100 million ransom was paid.

8 September Reports said that the Governor of Cross River State, Professor Ben Ayade, had signed into law the death penalty for anyone found guilty of kidnapping in the state.

8 September Reverend Father Gabriel Oyaka, a Catholic priest, was kidnapped along the Okene-Auchi road while travelling from Abuja to Onitsha, Anambra State. According to a fellow priest, the victim’s car was stopped at around noon by armed men. His car was left at the scene.

9 September Nir Rosmarin, a 43 year old Israeli man who worked as a manager for a construction company near Abuja, was killed during a failed kidnapping attempt. Witnesses said that four kidnappers driving a jeep came into the construction site during the morning, saw Nir Rosmarin and tried to kidnap him. A guard and another Israeli came to his aid. Nir Rosmarin tried to run but was shot in the head at point blank range by one of the kidnappers. The guard suffered slight injuries and the other Israeli escaped unharmed.

10 September According to a statement signed by the spokesman of Ebonyi State Police Command, a combined team of Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARA), Anti-kidnapping, SIB operations, and a patrol team from the Central Police Station and Area command, Abakaliki, rescued a medical doctor who had been kidnapped on 8 September by hoodlums. A distress call was received by operations control room that activated the rescue operation. The victim was rescued on 9 September.

11 September Sheikh Adam Idoko, the Chief Imam of the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), was kidnapped from his village in the early hours of the morning. On 15 September, an anonymous source at the Central Mosque said that the kidnappers had contacted the Central Mosque and demanded a ransom of N20 million (USD100,500).

11 September Kehinde Baruwa, Afikpo Zonal Manager of Nigerian Breweries Limited, was kidnapped at the entrance to his street off Ndibe Beach Road, Afikpo north government area, Ebonyi State. On 20 September, the new state Police Commissioner, CP Peace Ibekwe Abdalah, paraded four people suspected to have been involved in the incident and told reporters at the Command Headquarters in Abakaliki that the kidnappers had contacted the victim’s wife and demanded N50 million (USD251,250) which they later reduced to N300,000 (USD1,500). The police arrested two suspects at the payment of the ransom and, using information obtained, rescued the victim and arrested a further two suspects.

12 September Security sources stated that, despite the existing amnesty pact between the Niger Delta region and the Federal Government, there are strong indications that militants are re-grouping in different camps in the creeks of the region. A source added that many camps exist in Bayelsa and Delta States and are being used by kidnappers as safe havens to hide kidnapping victims while negotiating ransoms. It is understood that, since ex-President Goodluck Jonathan left office, some ex-militant leaders have been plotting to resurrect the Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND). Operation Pulo Shield (OPS), formerly known as the joint Task Force, is operating in the creeks to locate and destroy militants’ camps.

12 September A police spokesman in Rivers State confirmed that Donu Kogbara, the kidnapped Vanguard Newspaper columnist and businesswoman, had been released soon after 2:00am. She had been kidnapped from in front of her house in the Nkpogu area of Port Harcourt on 30 August. The spokesman did not say if any ransom had been paid or if any arrests had been made. After her release, Donu Kogbara said she had been held in the creeks and that her kidnappers claimed she was in Cameroon. She denied that a political motive was behind the kidnapping. She added that, after she informed them about her need for blood pressure medication, they went out and bought some. On 14 September, in an attempt to dispel rumours, the Rivers State Police Command Public Relations Officer stated that no ransom was paid for the victim’s release.

19 September At around 10:00pm, armed men gained entry to the residence of HRH King Godwin Igodo, the Ebeni Ibe of Atissa Kingdom in Yenagoa area of Bayelsa State, and attempted to kidnap him. King Igodo has already been kidnapped twice. Angry youths impeded the kidnappers and an armed police patrol quickly arrived at the scene. There was a 15 minute shoot out between the police and the kidnappers who escaped through a back entrance to the residence leaving their intended victim behind.

21 September Chief Olu Falae, a traditional ruler of Ilu Abo, Ondo State, and former presidential candidate of Alliance for Democracy in 1999, was kidnapped from his farm at Ilado by four gunmen, suspected to be Fulani herdsmen at about 1:00pm. He was taken to an unknown destination. The kidnappers contacted his family and demanded a ransom of N100 million (USD502,500) and told the family to deliver the money on or before 22 September if they wanted to see the Chief alive. On 23 September, a source reported that the kidnappers had reduced their ransom demand to N90 million (USD452,260). He added that the family had managed to raise N2 million (USD10,000) which they offered to the kidnappers who “banged the phone down” after raising their demand back to the initial level. On 24 September, the victim regained his freedom. He said he had been badly treated, being made to walk for 30 kilometres and to sleep on the ground. The Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, said that no ransom had been paid and the victim had been rescued at Owo, Ondo State. He added he could not deny or confirm if any suspects had been arrested. On 28 September, Chief Olu Falae admitted that his family had paid a ransom for his release but did not disclose the amount and said he had walked 15kms before he was picked up by the police. On 30 September, in a press release the police said that it did not know anything about the ransom payment and that it does not encourage families to pay ransoms. The press release also said that it had directed that no ransom should be paid as its agents were capable of apprehending the kidnappers and freeing the Chief.

22 September The police in Niger State confirmed that Mr. Cietus Ojukwu, Director of Phoenix Hotel Limited, Minna, had been kidnapped by armed men from his residence at the Tunga area of Minna on 20 September. According to a family source who wished to remain anonymous, six armed men stormed the house located just behind the hotel at about 8:30pm. The kidnappers tried to take the victim and his wife in their vehicle but there was not sufficient room so they left his wife behind. The family have been contacted with a ransom demand of N50 million (USD251,250). This is said to be the second kidnapping in the state during the last three months.

23 September The Anambra State Police Command arrested four suspected kidnappers at Nteje, Oli Local Government Area, after a gun battle lasting 30 minutes. During the operation Kamsi Okeke (3 years and 11 months), daughter of Pastor Louis Okeke of Foursquare Church, Awka, was rescued unhurt. The victim was kidnapped from her father’s house at Awka around 9:00pm on 16 September. The kidnappers contacted the family and initially demanded a ransom of N15 million (USD75,375) before reducing their demand to N3 million (USD15,000). The leader of the gang is said to have been the motor mechanic of the pastor. During the abduction of the young girl, the gang forced the parents to withdraw money from ATMs.

25 September Reverend JB Lawson and Reverend Dokubo of the African Church were kidnapped by gunmen who set up an illegal road block along the Kalabari-Emohua road, Rivers State. The two men were returning from a church programme. The African Church confirmed that there had been contact with the kidnappers who have demanded N25 million (USD125,600) for the release of the two men.

25 September Reverend Japhet Obafemi (70), pastor of Apostolic Faith Church, Ilepa, Ikare Akoko, Ondo State, was kidnapped by gunmen while travelling along the Auga-Akunnu road near the Ondo and Kogi State borders. The incident happened a few days earlier and the kidnappers have made contact and demanded a ransom of N16 million (USD80,400) for his release. A church member speaking anonymously said that neither the victim’s family nor the church could raise such a ransom.

26 September Two weeks after the kidnapping of the Chairman of Cometstar Manufacturing Company, Sir James Uzochukwu Uduji, the kidnappers have insisted that the family pay the ransom demand of USD1 million. The victim was kidnapped by gunmen from in front of his residence at 7th Avenue, Festac town, Lagos, when the kidnappers deliberately caused an accident as he was driving home. The driver stopped to assess the damage and the gunmen opened fire, shot the driver and drove off with their victim. It is understood that the family have already paid the kidnappers N100 million but the kidnappers are insisting on the payment of the balance of N120 million. They have also suggested that a member of the family replaces the victim in captivity so he can source the balance. The family are refusing to speak to the media or police after being warned not to by the kidnappers. The kidnappers are thought to be from a professional gang operating in the Festac area that investigate a target’s wealth before kidnapping them and then confront the victim with details of their wealth threatening to kill them if they do not pay.

27 September A report in the Nigerian Daily Trust newspaper stated that between April and September 2015, 110 people had been reported kidnapped and the total of ransoms demanded is put at about N1 billion (USD4.5 million). A breakdown of the cases by areas show the South zone with 35 recorded cases, the South West zone with 28 recorded cases, the South East zone with 23 recorded cases involving 25 victims, the North Central zone 14 reported cases, the North East zone 7 reported cases and the North West zone one reported case. Among the reasons given for the recent increase in cases is the cancellation of pipeline surveillance contracts awarded to some ex-militants in the Niger Delta. The contracts were awarded by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan but rescinded by President Muhammadu Buhari. Another reason is the outcome of the 2015 general elections where youths were allegedly armed with weapons by politicians to assist them win election and were later abandoned without compensation but had kept their weapons.

28 September Mr. Tobi Benson, a senior lecturer at the Delta State owned polytechnic, Ogwashi-Uki, Asaba, was kidnapped by four armed men from his residence in Ogwashi-Uki early in the evening. He was unloading his car when the men forced him at gunpoint into their vehicle and drove away. The victim’s wife said the kidnappers had made contact with her through her cell phone and had demanded a ransom of N100 million (USD502,500) for his release.

Somalia

9 September Al Shabaab, an al Qaeda linked affiliate, claimed during a broadcast on the group’s Radio Andalus, to be holding 12 Ugandan troops serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Uganda said that 12 of its troops were killed and no prisoners were taken during an attack by al Shabaab on a AMISOM military camp in southern Somalia on 1 September. Western military sources said at least 50 AMISOM soldiers from Uganda were believed to have been killed and another 50 were missing. An Uganda army spokesman strongly denied the claim.

South Africa

10 September Perfect Gift Msesiwe (3), was reunited with her parents after being handed over at the South Africa/Mozambique border by Mozambican police officers to the South African authorities. She had been kidnapped by her Mozambican nanny from her home in East London on 4 August and taken to Mozambique. The family received a ransom demand of ZAR500,000 (USD40,000) that was negotiated down to ZAR300,000 (USD24,000). After investigations by South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) and the Police of the Republic of Mozambique (PRM), three people, the nanny in Gauteng, South Africa, and two relatives in Matola, Maputo, Mozambique, were arrested during the week of 28 August. The nanny confessed to the crime.

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