Even a child knows 2021 has so far been a very testing year for the country, with violence escalating in different parts of the country while the Boko Haram war is still far from won. Kidnappings, highway attacks, unknown gunmen, herdsmen attacks etc are some of the widespread security issues currently facing the West African country.
We have chronicled all the major kidnappings that have happened in Nigeria in 2021. The security agencies appear to not have a concrete strategy to nip these in the bud.
1. Kagara Kidnapping: On 17th February 2021 about 27 school children, 3 staff members and 12 relatives were kidnapped by armed men from a secondary school in Kagara, Niger State. This was the next major kidnapping event following from the audacious kidnap of hundreds of school boys in Katsina in December 2020.
The Nigerian President ordered security agencies to carry out a rescue operation while the governor of the state Abubakar Sani-Bello confirmed that the state government was in negotiation with the bandits for the release of the boys.
A military plane sent to Minna to rescue the 42 abductees crashed, killing all 7 persons on board. On 27th February the Niger state government announced that all 42 abducted persons have been released. It was not clear whether and how much ransom was paid for their release.
2. Jangebe (Zamfara) Kidnapping: 279 female students aged between 10 and 17 were kidnapped from the Government Girls Secondary School, a boarding school in Jangebe, Zamfara state on 26th February 2021. The incident took place 9 days after the Kagara kidnapping.
This kidnapping happened at about 1 am by over 100 armed gunmen. According to local residents they remained in the school for hours before leaving with the girls. The gunmen also reportedly attacked a military camp and security checkpoint nearby to prevent intervention during the raid. One policeman was killed and about 50 girls were able to hide/escape from the kidnappers
All the girls were released on March 2, 2021. It was unclear the negotiation methods deployed by the government to facilitate their release.
3. Afaka Kidnapping: Just weeks after the incident in Zamfara, another kidnapping raid was carried out in Kaduna state when gunmen attacked the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka and abducted 39 students (23 females, 16 males).
This was the third incident of mass kidnapping in Northern Nigeria in 2021.
The college was on the outskirts of Kaduna city near the Nigerian Defence Academy military barracks. According to sources a distress call by students and staff of the school brought members of the Nigerian Armed Forces’ first division who were based in the nearby military academy who engaged the kidnappers in a firefight.
At the end of the operation over 180 students and staff were rescued but around 30 persons were unaccounted for. The kidnappers were alleged to have taken those students to the nearby Rugu forest.
On 5th April the Kaduna state government announced that 5 of the 39 abducted persons have been released. On 8th April the government announced that another 5 captives have been released. On 5th May the state government announced that the remaining 29 students have been released by their abductors after spending 55 days in captivity.
4. Greenfield University Kidnapping: On 20th April at least 20 students and 2 staff of Greenfield University were kidnapped in Chikun LGA, Kaduna state. The armed bandits infiltrated the school in large numbers and killed one staff member.
They later demanded for N800 million ransom. On 23rd April the kidnappers killed 3 students in their captivity. The dead bodies were found in Kwanan Bature village, close to the University. On 26th April 2 more kidnapped students were killed.
On May 1 one of the abducted students was released after his parents allegedly paid an undisclosed ransom. On 29th May, after 4o days in captivity the remaining 14 students were freed. Their parents disclosed that they paid a ransom of N150 million (150 million naira) and 8 brand new motorcycles to the bandits.
5. Makurdi Kidnapping: On 24th April gunmen kidnapped two students from the Federal University of Agriculture in Makurdi, Benue state. This was the 5th kidnapping from an academic institution in 2021 and happened just 4 days after the Greenfield kidnapping. On 28th April 2021 the University released a statement confirming the return of the abducted students.
Check out our previous Nigeria Today Feature