Police recover N263m from kidnappers in three years

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The Nigerian Police recovered proceeds from kidnapping totalling about N262.6m between 2019 and 2021, The PUNCH has learnt.

According to the 2022 National Risk Assessment document obtained by our correspondent from the website of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, a total of 28 kidnapping-related investigations were carried out by the Department of State Service in three years.

The document noted that in 2019, the DSS carried out 11 kidnapping-related investigations. Only seven investigations were done in 2020 and 10 in 2021.

The document read in part, “This clearly shows that compared to 2019, there was about a 36% decline in the number of cases investigated in 2020, and when compared to 2020, there was a 30% increase in the number of cases investigated in 2021.”

On the proceeds of kidnapping recovered by the police, the document read, “The sum of N262, 600,000 ($635,850) was recovered by the Nigerian Police within the review period in respect to proceeds from kidnapping.”

On the perpetrators of the crime, the report further reads, “Transnational organised crime in Nigeria is highly sophisticated. Boko Haram, ISWAP, bandit groups and other unnamed kidnapping gangs around the country engage in widespread kidnappings for ransom payments, while the Black Axe Confraternity, also known as the Neo-Black Movement, is involved mostly in human trafficking, drug trafficking, fraud and racketeering.”

The report also noted that kidnappers avoid using financial institutions when collecting ransoms.

It read, “The kidnappers avoid ransom payments through the financial institutions; rather, they receive cash and either launder the money themselves or use third parties, particularly Bureau de Change operators. Some even demand the ransom payment in virtual assets.”

The report further noted that perpetrators could be organised or unorganised, and it often leads to other crimes like trafficking in persons for organ removal, which is much more sophisticated.

It added that the perpetrators use multiple sectors and sophisticated means to hide funds across the border at foreign banks.

The PUNCH also learnt that at least 9,264 people were kidnapped in three years.

Enact Africa, an organisation that is building skills to enhance Africa’s response to transnational crime, quoted the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime as saying that there were 1,386 kidnappings in 2019 and 2,860 in 2020, respectively.

Data obtained from the Nigeria Security Incidents Tracker, published by Beacon Consulting, a popular enterprise security risk management and intelligence consulting company, indicated that there had been no fewer than 5,018 abductions in 2021.

In a recent report by The PUNCH report, a security expert and former Director of the Department of State Services, Mike Ejiofor, noted that the creation of state and local police and the employment of modern technology would help reduce the rate of insecurity.

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