Desperate Nigerians sell homes and land to kidnapped children for free


Tegina, Nigeria — After armed men captured seven of Aboubakar Adam’s 11 children in northwestern Nigeria, he sold his car and land, cleared up his savings, raised his ransom and released them. Did.

He sent 3 million naira ($ 7,300) to the bushes, along with payments from other families in his town of Tegina. The kidnapper took the money, caught one of the men who delivered it, and sent back more cash and new demand for six bikes.

“We are suffering,” a 40-year-old tire repairman told Reuters. We are still waiting for signs of what happened to the children three months after the mass kidnapping. “Honestly, I have nothing left.”

The kidnappers have taken more than 1,000 students since December in a kidnap rash in the poor northwest. About 300 children have not yet been returned, according to Reuters reports.

President Muhammadu Buhari said he would only encourage the kidnappers by telling the state not to pay anything. Security agencies say they are targeting bandits through military action and other means.

Meanwhile, hundreds of parents face the same challenge. If you don’t do everything you can to raise your ransom yourself, you run the risk of never seeing your child again.

“We are asking the government for help,” said Aminusaris, whose eight-year-old son was taken to the same daytime raid at the Saliftanko Islamic School in Tegina in May with more than 130 students. Told.

The story of the school owner
Principal and school owner Abubakar Tegina explains how bandits accessed the school during an attack on the school in Tegina, Nigeria, on August 10, 2021. (Afolabi Sotunde / Reuters)

Salis cleared up her savings and sold everything in her store to increase donations. The school owner sold off half of the reasons. Together, with the help of friends, relatives, and strangers, the Tegina people said they had raised 30 million naira.

But that wasn’t enough for bandits.

Lagos-based analyst SBM Intelligence estimates that the kidnappers raised more than $ 18 million in ransom between June 2011 and March 2020 in Nigeria.

The cash flood has brought about a flood of new kidnappers, said Brahmabu Carti, an analyst at the Tony Blair Global Change Institute’s radical policy unit. He estimated that there are currently about 30,000 bandits operating in the northwest.

“It’s Nigeria’s most prosperous and most lucrative industry,” he told Reuters. Kidnapping has become an attractive career option for young men in an era of economic downturn, double-digit inflation and 33% unemployment.

“From December, I saw Pandora’s box open. They thought it was possible. They saw nothing happened to the attackers,” Bukarti said. ..

In December, shooters kidnapped 344 boys from a government science secondary school in northwestern Katsina during a night raid. The kidnappers released the boys a week later, a series of similar kidnappers throughout the region.

The bandits took a page from Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorist group that seized more than 200 schoolgirls from a town in northeastern Chibok in 2014. The group had an idealistic purpose and forced some girls to marry a fighter.

According to experts, armed kidnappers in the northwest are financially motivated.

“The problem of life and death”

The abduction is putting more pressure on President Buhari, who promised to tackle anxiety at his 2019 inauguration.

They also tested security services. Armed forces against kidnappers in the northwest, Muslim terrorists in the northeast, separatists in the southeast, and piracy in the Delta are deployed in at least 30 of the 36 states in Nigeria.

Parents of abducted students
Parents will attend a rally at the Saliftanko Islamic School in Tegina, Niger, Nigeria, on August 10, 2021. (AfolabiSotunde / Reuters)

In an interview with Reuters, intelligence minister Lai Mohammed defended the strategy of not paying the ransom.

Instead, he said, the government destroyed multiple bandit camps and tried other approaches to tackle bandits.

He refused to elaborate because of the need for secrets regarding the ongoing operation, but said that all levels of government were working to free the children.

“We have won the fight against the rebellion and the fight against the bandits,” Mohammed said.

The Niger government, including Tegina, declined to comment. Officials working with the governor said their efforts needed to be kept secret.

Meanwhile, the challenges continue to grow.

The NGO Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) tracked a 28% increase in violence in Nigeria during the first six months of 2021 compared to the last six months.

Reported deaths from national violence increased 61 percent to 5,197, he said.

It all explains why the radical policy unit Bukarti is willing to sell everything Adam and other parents need to pay the ransom.

“They can’t afford [it] Somehow. But it’s a life-threatening problem. And they know that security agencies can’t release their loved ones. “

By Abraham Achirga and Libby George