The Nigerian government has been struggling to combat the country’s violent gangs for decades. Now, they are using kidnapping children as a way to raise money. The problem is so dire that the government has no choice but to try and negotiate with them.
The breaking news in nigeria today 2021 is a story about Nigeria’s gangs raising millions of dollars by kidnapping children. The government has been unable to stop the crime syndicates, and now many parents have lost their children.
GUSAU, Niger Republic — On motorcycles, the masked guys emerged from the jungle, encircling a young intelligence officer holding a cash-filled bag. The ransom, almost $50,000 in crisp Nigerian bank notes, was paid to recover a weapon that posed a direct danger to the country’s president.
In a confrontation with a military unit, a kidnapping gang tented in Nigeria’s Rugu forest stole an antiaircraft gun. President Muhammadu Buhari’s flight to his hometown, some 80 miles distant, was jeopardized as a result, and the government had to purchase it back.
An hour later, the officer, who did not want to be identified, was shaking hands with the leader of a loose network of criminals whose campaign of kidnapping civilians—including hundreds of schoolchildren—has raised millions of dollars for them to build a heavy weaponry arsenal that they are using to seize control of swaths of the north, including the president’s home state.
Up tea, the terrorist commander decided to hand over the 12.7 millimeter antiaircraft gun installed on his vehicle in return for the ransom: He said that his troops had plenty of ammunition.
According to the officer, he replied, “I don’t need the army’s weaponry.” Another top Nigerian official engaged in the previously secret operation confirmed his story.
In March, Nigerian security troops patrolled Zamfara state.
Reuters photo by afolabi Sotunde
Loosely organized criminal gangs that earned money by kidnapping kids are now flush with weapons and operating outside the reach of an increasingly weak state in northwest Nigeria’s woods.
According to secret papers and conversations with top military officials, soldiers, independent mediators, and one of the gang leaders, government authorities in Africa’s most populous country have paid the gangs to return stolen weapons and abducted people in certain cases.
In a phone conversation, Shehu Rekeb, a militant commander in Zamfara state, stated, “If they don’t pay, we murder them.” His guys, he said, were herders who had been abused by the government and arrested arbitrarily. They used to be armed with machetes, but now have weaponry on par with the military and army collaborators, he said.
Nigeria’s government refers to lesser-known criminal organizations in the country’s northwest as “bandits,” despite the fact that it is still fighting Islamic State terrorists in the northeast. Soldiers, intelligence personnel, and mediators who have visited their camps, on the other hand, report a surplus of weapons. More antiaircraft weapons have been obtained since the mission to repurchase one.
Last month in New York, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari delivered a speech to the United Nations General Assembly.
Photo courtesy of the press pool’s John Angelilllo.
A secret internal assessment given to the president in July said, “Criminal groups seem to be better prepared with larger-capacity sophisticated weapons than national security services.”
Requests for response from the Nigerian government went unanswered. The main new security issue in Nigeria, according to many top security officials, is widespread abduction for ransom. According to one official who reviewed intercepted bandit leaders’ communications, the militants talk about stockpiling weapons to defend themselves against rival gangs and government-backed vigilantes, as well as conducting increasingly brazen operations against schools, villages, state officials, and each other.
“They’re making amends… “The administration is powerless,” a top government security official stated.
This year, the criminals have kidnapped almost 1,000 students from their classrooms. Thousands of schools have shuttered in a nation where half of the population is under the age of 18 and where the world’s biggest population of out-of-class youngsters now resides.
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Farmers have abandoned or sold their property to buy their children’s freedom, driving maize, rice, and bean prices to new highs. Hundreds of communities have been abandoned as a result of conflict that has displaced a quarter of a million people.
Bulus Kwoi, whose firstborn was one of 140 children kidnapped from Bethel Baptist School in Kaduna in July, stated, “My son has been prisoner in the bush for months.” “Please. Will you provide us the funds we need to set them free?”
The majority of the bandits are Fulani, a historically cattle-raising culture whose herders have been battling farmers for years for access to limited pasture grounds.
Some herders have lately regrouped into abduction gangs, abducting everyone from peasants to high-ranking officials. Bandits attacked a military training college in Kaduna state, north of the capital, last month, murdering two troops, stealing weapons, and kidnapped a senior military official, a major at the country’s national defense school.
The bandits have phoned in to talk radio stations to brag about their weapons and have encouraged journalists to photograph their stockpiles, certain that they have the upper hand.
Three individuals were detained last month in the abduction of children from Bethel Baptist School in Kaduna state, according to Nigerian authorities.
Gbemiga Olamikan/Associated Press photo
“They wanted to show us that they possessed general-purpose machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and all these things,” claimed Mannir Dan Ali, an editor of the Daily Trust newspaper, which sent a correspondent inside the camps.
Bandits have been accused of kidnapping political figures and Catholic priests, as well as murdering cops on a regular basis, in the last three months.
Although American authorities claim they have intercepted conversations from suspected Islamist militants in the northeast who are coaching bandits in the northwest on abduction operations and negotiations, the bandits remain a distant concern for US policymakers focused on Nigeria’s terrorist danger.
Last month, the Nigerian military launched a fresh assault, hitting woodland encampments with airstrikes from jet aircraft supplied by the United States. As part of a military assault that some authorities believe is working, the government ordered cellphone service to be stopped throughout four states, effectively shutting off tens of millions of people.
Villagers have paid bandits to keep their children from being kidnapped, escalating a protection racket. Governors in three northern states have urged people to pick up firearms since they are unable to protect their towns, fuelling a local industry that makes muskets out of scrap metal.
“There isn’t a day that goes by without someone being murdered or abducted. “Not a single day,” Katsina state governor Aminu Bello Masari told local Nagarta radio last month. “It is critical that the people stand up.”
The operation to reclaim the antiaircraft cannon started with a handoff from a senior air force intelligence official in Abuja, who handed them a black zip-up bag with 20 million Nigerian naira.
After 140 students were kidnapped, the Bethel Baptist School was closed in July.
Agence France-Presse/Getty Images/kola sulaimon
It was handed to a young intelligence officer who had been tapped to swap it for an antiaircraft rifle captured by bandits in a region where Mr. Buhari traveled often to visit his hometown of Daura.
The officer traveled to Jibia, a hamlet near the Niger border, where a dozen armed men awaited him in the bush. They rode their motorcycles for hours through the expanding forest, until arriving at the house of their commander, a wiry guy in his 30s, who took the bag.
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While the robbers dismantled the antiaircraft cannon and attempted to attach it to a swaying motorcycle, their commander vented his frustrations with the government: His father had been abducted, young men were no longer able to support themselves by raising cattle, and airstrikes were murdering people in his camps. He replied, “You’re bombarding us from the air.” “You’re murdering our kids.”
According to him, his troops were carrying out retaliation operations against vigilantes and the army, who had assisted them in amassing a large weapon stockpile. The robbers eventually attached the antiaircraft cannon to two motorcycles and started wheeling it out of the camp. The air force official remarked, “They made it seem so easy.” “They made it seem unpretentious.”
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A kidnapped girl found is a story of how gangs in Nigeria have been kidnapping and selling children. The government cannot stop them because the gangs are too powerful.
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