Our Daily checks show that an average of 25 Nigerians are kidnapped every month, while 278 Nigerians have been abducted between May 2015 and April 2016. Also, amounts ranging from N250,000 to millions of naira have been demanded as ransom, bringing the total sum to N3.3bn.
The rising wave of the crime across the country has left many more afraid of kidnappers than armed robbers or even insurgents. Gone are the days when only expatriates, wealthy individuals and petroleum industry workers were the main targets. Today, anyone can fall victim.
The failure of security agencies at resolving many cases has made matters worse, with many families caving in and agreeing to pay ransom. While there are instances where the police rescue victims without payment of ransoms, there are also many where huge amounts were paid to kidnappers.
There are also instances where the police claim credit for rescuing victims without ransom payments, only for the families of victims to counter the claims by publicly announcing how much they paid to secure the release of their loved ones.
According to reports, most of the kidnappers said they engaged in it because they needed money to solve personal problems as they have no job.
Victims suffer psychological trauma, lack of trust, fear, torture and in some cases even rape, among others.
The 14 April 2014 abduction of about 276 Chibok school girls in Maiduguri by the Boko Haram insurgents remains indelible even as it drew world attention including reactions from US President Barack Obama and other world leaders.
The scourge of kidnapping has forced many states to enact laws recommending capital punishment and long prison sentences for those convicted of kidnapping.
This month alone 32 cases of kidnapping were reported in Enugu, Kano, Cross River, Imo, Rivers, Kaduna, Abia, Kogi, FCT, Delta and Benue states. Since kidnapping is not contained on the exclusive list of the Nigerian Constitution, it is States Houses of Assembly that can enact laws on it.
Kidnapping was made a capital offence in 2009 in Abia, Akwa, Ibom, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo states to curtail the wave. No kidnapper has however faced the death penalty since the enactment of the laws.
Before the Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, signed into law a bill that prescribes death penalty for convicted kidnappers in the state, and before the Kogi State Executive Council under former Governor Idris Wada approved death penalty for kidnapping and other related criminal activities in the state, Governors Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa and Adams Oshiomhole of Edo states approved the death penalty for kidnappers in 2013. The Delta State House of Assembly also passed the Anti-Kidnapping Bill 2013, imposing a death sentence on any person convicted of kidnapping in the state, into law.
How Nigeria would tackle the menace remains to be seen in the face of other socio-economic and security challenges, even as the nation is held to ransom by kidnappers.