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Kidnapping has become One of the Major Security Challenges in Nigeria

Figures are hard to come by due to under-reporting, but a study by the Nigeria Security Tracker (NST), which maps political violence in the country, states that there have been more than 200 kidnapping incidents so far this year with at least 2,043 victims. There were an estimated 437 kidnapping incidents with 2,879 victims for the whole of 2020, NST figures show. Although Asch Harwood, who oversees the tracker, told CNN these figures are likely underestimated due to under-reporting of kidnapping cases. Kidnapping has been prevalent in the oil-rich south of Nigeria for decades as militants fight for control over resources. They kidnapped foreign oil workers and expatriates to attract international attention to their cause. Similarly, the Islamist militant group Boko Haram has carried out thousands of kidnappings in the 12-year insurgency waged in the country’s northeast. However, the landscape has now changed and the new wave of kidnappers are not agitating for political or religious ideology, their motive is simply to make money, analysts say. It is a phenomenon described by Matthew Page, an associate fellow on the Africa program at Chatham House think tank, as “violence entrepreneurship.” Marauding groups, known locally as bandits, operate from forest enclaves in Northwestern Nigeria, where they organize attacks and kidnappings on rural areas and Nigeria’s major road networks.