Abduction for ransom has become a major security challenge in Nigeria as kidnappers have moved their operations from the major expressways in the country into communities in Lagos, Ogun, and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
According to an intelligence report released on August 23, 2023, entitled “The Economics of Nigeria’s Kidnap Industry: Follow the Money,” by SB Morgan, kidnappers’ activities have spiralled out of control over time.
Between July 2022 and June 2023, 3,620 people were abducted in over 582 kidnapping incidents in the country, with a reported ransom demand of at least N5billion and an actual ransom payment of over N302million, a figure that could be higher due to underreporting, the SB Morgan report says.
Although the report noted that the Northwest and Northcentral regions exhibited higher-in-kind cases of this abduction, the trend of kidnapping is now shifting to some South-Western states, with Lagos and Ogun states experiencing a similar situation.
Early December 2023, the family of a 13-year-old schoolgirl, Miracle Adereti, called on the police to locate the whereabouts of their daughter, who was kidnapped by an unknown gang in the Ikotun area of Lagos State.
Miracle was said to have been kidnapped while returning from school, and it was gathered that the kidnappers trailed her to school in the morning and waited till the closing period.
The gang, who parked a short distance away from the school premises, thereafter abducted Miracle while she and her sister were walking home.
Another case in Lagos was that of a car dealer popularly known as Ejike Conversion in the Ladipo Spare Parts Market, which occurred in mid-December.
Ejike was said to have been taking an inventory of his newly imported goods in front of his plaza around 12am when some armed men swooped in on him and his workers.
While his workers fled for safety following the sound of gunshots, Ejike was not so lucky as the armed men attacked him, dragged him into their vehicle, and drove off.
In a similar development, a yet-to-be-identified businessman was allegedly kidnapped in early January in the Ago Palace area of the state while the kidnappers demanded a sum of N500m.
A project architect, Daario Naharis, while narrating his experience on Wednesday via his X handle (formerly Twitter), said he was almost abducted in the area in November where the abductors blocked his vehicle while in motion.
He wrote, “I had this experience firsthand last month in this same Ago. I was coming home around midnight when some guys with 2.4 Camry blocked me on motion. I bashed into their back bumper, alighted immediately, considering the way they drove, and bolted away, seeing four doors opening in an instant.
“My saving grace was that I was riding on a heavier vehicle as the impact devastated them. Before they could reconcile it, I decided in a nanosecond and crossed to the other road. If they were just robbers, they would have ransacked or taken the vehicle along.
“I have never dared to speak about my experience that day except seeing this tweet. I never knew what made me go into them with such speed, which turned out to have saved me in that situation. Those guys were properly armed and casual.”
Meanwhile, in the Ijebu area of Ogun State, there was a report of an abduction of a 70-year-old piggery farmer and elder with a parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, simply identified as Pa Adeife Ifelaja.
The aged man was kidnapped at his residence on December 31st while preparing for a Crossover service to usher in the new year.
His abductors also held him captive for nine days and demanded N50 million ransom.
However, there has been outrage across the country since kidnappers abducted a man identified as Mansoor Al-Kadriyar and his six daughters in Abuja on January 9.
The kidnappers, according to reports, released the father and asked him to go raise a ransom of N60m before his daughters were released. However, when the N60 million ransom was not paid after the deadline agreed to be January 12 elapsed, the abductors reportedly killed the eldest daughter named Nabeeha.
The quest to raise money to pay the kidnappers has even become a major issue online with Nigerians being urged to donate whatever they had into a bank account, but not enough money was gathered as of Friday.
Meanwhile, the abductors have reportedly raised the ransom to N100m for the remaining five girls.
One of the uncles of the murdered victim of the Abuja kidnap, Sherifdeen Al-Kadriyar, was reported to have claimed that the kidnappers threatened to kill the other girls in their captivity if the ransom was not paid.
Piqued by the ugly incident, the immediate past Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, revealed that one of his friends had offered to pay the remaining N50m to balance the N100m ransom demanded by bandits to release the remaining Mansoor Al-Kadriyar sisters.
Pantami tweeted on Sunday, “Alhamdu lil Laah! I am personally not in support of paying ransom to criminals. However, since it became clear that we lost our daughter Nabeeha yesterday and the five remaining daughters have been threatened, I spoke with the father on the matter yesterday and today.
“Furthermore, I spoke with a friend and a brother who offered to pay the remaining 50 million Naira of the N60m immediately. I conveyed the account number of the father of our daughters, Mansoor Al-Kadriyar, to the friend and brother to send the money directly. Any additional amount generated earlier from yesterday can be used by the father to treat the daughters and other family members in sha Allah.
“May the Almighty Allah reward the bother and friend with Jannatul Firdaus for the donation. May He also reward all those who contributed in any way with Jannatul Firdaus, too. May He also forgive Nabeeha and rescue her sisters. May the Almighty also help our security agencies to bring an end to these challenges. May Nigeria be a better place for all of us.”
This development led to the kidnappers raising the ransom demanded on the remaining captives to N700 million.
The kidnappers have reportedly killed more victims.
Among those killed were a secondary school student and daughter of the Ekiti state-born chief legal officer of the National University Commission, Miss Folorunsho Ariyo.
The kidnappers were reported to have dumped the remains of the four victims around a former military checkpoint behind Idah Junction along the Bwari-Jere SCC Road in Kagarko Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
Reacting to the kidnapping trend, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the just-concluded election, Atiku Abubakar, decried the long reign of the bandits and kidnappers’ horrific activities.
Atiku added that the worsening poverty and hunger in the land are contributing to the insecurity menace in the country, particularly Abuja, FCT.
“The escalating violence and lawlessness in our nation deeply distress me as bandits and kidnappers continue their reign of terror unchecked.
Our youths and innocent citizens are being murdered daily. Just last Saturday, we lost Nabeeha to her captors. Yesterday, the tragedy deepened with the murder of more victims, including Folorunsho Ariyo, a 13-year-old student. Folorunsho was one of ten people kidnapped from Sagwari Estate Layout in Dutse, Bwari Area Council of the FCT, on January 7th, 2024.
“It is obvious that the worsening poverty and hunger in the land is escalating the level of kidnapping and insecurity in Nigeria, particularly in Abuja, the federal capital,” he wrote on his verified Facebook page.
The former Vice-President further extended his condolence to the deceased families while urging the Federal Government to fulfil its constitutional obligations of protecting the lives and property of citizens.
Meanwhile, efforts made by our correspondent to reach the Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, and Lagos police spokesperson to react to the spike in cases of kidnappings across the major cities of the country were abortive as calls put to their phones as of Sunday and today (Monday) were not taken neither were the text messages sent to them at 12:44 pm, 2:18 pm and 4:55 pm responded to.
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Google’s Initiative to Open AI Research Hub in Paris
Google, the US tech giant, is planning to establish an AI research hub in Paris. This move aligns with a growing trend among major tech companies to establish teams in European cities, as announced by the French government on Thursday.
Over the past few years, Google has made substantial investments in its engineering facility in Zurich, where it accommodates AI-focused teams from Meta, Apple, and Microsoft.
In a similar vein, Amazon, another significant player in AI research, has teams stationed in various locations in Germany and Britain.
The domain of AI encompasses a wide array of technologies rooted in algorithms and extensive data processing, playing a crucial role in diverse applications, from online advertising to smartphone cameras.
The newly established institute by Google is expected to accommodate a minimum of 300 researchers in the French capital, as per a statement released by France’s finance ministry on Wednesday.
Highlighting this development, the statement emphasized, “The investment by Google in France demonstrates once again how attractive France and Europe are for tech firms, particularly in the artificial intelligence area.”
Paris has been actively striving to position itself as a leading hub for tech companies, with Meta having established an AI research team in the city back in 2015.
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ASUU STRIKE: FAILURE BY THE CONCERNED AUTHORITIES TO ADDRESS OUR DEMANDS WOULD ATTRACT SEVERE CONSEQUENCES – ASUU NEC WARNS
The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has condemned the mass establishment of universities in the country, describing the development as ‘reckless and excessive’.
The National President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, made the union’s position known at Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, on Wednesday, while briefing the press on the outcome of ASUU’s recent NEC meeting.
This is even as the Union has advised the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, (FUTO), Owerri, Professor Nnenna Oti, to withdraw the Professorship the institution conferred on Isah Patami, the immediate past Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.
He lamented that university education was suffering due to total neglect by the government.
Osodeke noted that the federal and state governments are establishing more universities without making adequate provision for their funding, adding that many of the new institutions were only established for political reasons.
The ASUU President regretted that the ugly trend has put much stress on the intervention funds of Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, alleging that some of the new universities are being established with money diverted from TETFund.
ASUU called for the stripping of former Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isah Patami, of the status of full-time Professor, saying that the Vice Chancellor and management of FUTO were wrong to award a serving minister as a professor.
The union also accused the VC of FUTO, Professor Nnenna Oti of allegedly victimizing members of ASUU in the Owerri-based federal university.
Osodeke raised the alarm that the Federal Government is planning to re-introduce the controversial Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System, IPPIS, saying that the January 2024 salaries paid to the ASUU members indicated “new IPPS”.
The union demanded the payment of withheld seven and half months salaries of its members, payment of earned academic allowances and equally condemned the Federal Government for dissolving Governing Councils of Universities.
The ASUU leader expressed concern that public universities are being underfunded by the federal and state governments, leaving the student population and Nigerian education sector to suffer.
ASUU warned that failure by the concerned authorities to address its demands would attract severe consequences.
Valentine’s Day Proposal: Lecturer Pops the Question to Student in Classroom
A lecturer at Abia State University, Anucha Wisdom, made a surprise proposal to his fiancée in her classroom on Wednesday.
Pictures and videos circulating on Facebook capture the moment when Wisdom knelt down with a ring in hand, proposing to his lover, who is reportedly a student in the Optometry Department of the university, in front of her colleagues.
As she nodded in acceptance, her colleagues erupted into cheers.
One Possible Nwaohamuo, who shared pictures of the event on Facebook, wrote, “What a memorable Valentine’s Day! My boss, Anucha Wisdom, proposed to his fiancée!
“Note he didn’t just find love outside his terrine but inside his territory! Lecturer and student love! Congratulations boss. Let the count down begin.
“But imagine how optometry babe make my boss kneel down! Ije kena ndi kwa Ike oh!”
Sharing a video and pictures from the proposal, another Facebook user, Noble Ugo Anucha, wrote, “Hearty Congrats Dedem Anucha Wisdom. Dee Law and Daa Ngo is happily happy about this move. We have a wedding to plan. It is all to the glory Of God.”
A visit to the lecturer’s Facebook page, Anucha Wisdom, revealed that he had not made any posts about the proposal.
In February 2023, NewsNow reported the surprise marriage proposal organized for a lady named Olabisi by her fiancé, Michael, with support from mobile phone maker Infinix Nigeria on Valentine’s Day in Ikeja, Lagos.
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