Kidnapping And Hostage Taking: Implications And Challenges For National Security

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Kidnapping And Hostage Taking: Implications And Challenges For National Security


The study examines kidnapping and hostage taking: implications for national security. Geographically, it was limited to the Niger delta region of Nigeria.

The study adopted qualitative research known as the historical descriptive method which involves primary and secondary sources. The major primary source used is library. The secondary sources used includes; textbooks, internet, research papers, journals and newspapers from the library.

The findings revealed that; The root cause(s) of kidnapping and hostage in Nigeria was Niger delta region of Nigeria;. kidnapping and hostage has impact on national security;. There is connection of kidnapping and hostage to national security;. The government has made a lot of effort so far.

The study concludes that, kidnapping and hostage has a big implications and threat on national security. The study further recommends that; Federal government should play a central role in developing a new collaborative policy framework rather than always allowing the states alone to deal with the crime;. Government should consider resolving the Niger Delta problem;. Deliberate employment opportunities have to be created by government in partnership with the private sector;. The law enforcement agents including the Nigerian Navy should be properly equipped with good firing power and communication gadgets;. The government should enable more job creation and employment;. The government should enable dearth alleviation;. The government should create more vocational training center.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study.

Nigeria is experiencing numerous challenges which are affecting the national security, one of such issues include the issue of kidnapping and hostage taking. Kidnapping and hostage taking in Nigeria are currently social problems which are affecting Nigerians and slowly becoming a major challenge to national security. The security situation in Nigeria has degenerated to an epidemic proportion and this is a fact known by everybody. Nobody seems safe any longer. Kidnapping and hostage taking has lead to a disturbing threat of peace and stability in Nigeria1. The daily champion newspaper of June 2006. Page 14, states that one phenomenon that has disturbed Nigeria economically, socially and politically in the last couple of years is the problem of kidnapping2. Although not initially considered a threat to national security, has become a major challenge to the country’s security. The Niger delta region which is also known as the ‘Nations economic hub’ has been one of the regions greatly affected by words like kidnap ,abduction, hostages, oil workers etc2 The Niger delta region is situated in the southern part of Nigeria and covers a territory of about 112,110km2, which actually covers 12% of the total area of the country3. The Niger delta area is also known as the oil-rich region which has aided Nigeria to be among the 12th place among the oil producing countries of the world. On the other hand this crude oil has also led to the increase in the rate of kidnapping and hostage taking of expatriates, staffs, etc by indigenes of Niger delta all in the name of fighting for their rights or the neglect of the government to the people.

Every nation is concerned with security which is simply defined by Imobighe as the freedom from or the absence of those tendencies which could undermine internal cohesion and the corporate existence of the nation and its ability to maintain its vital institututions for the promotion of its core values and sociopolitical and economic objectives of the people2. In addition defined internal security as the freedom from danger to life and property and the presence of a conducive atmosphere for the people to pursue their legitimate interest within the society4.The Niger delta militancy and Boko Haram insurgency poses the greatest security threat to the national security, since the end of the civil war in 1970.The Niger delta militancy which was said to have started because the minority ethnic groups felt they were being exploited, particularly the ogoni and the ijaw3 .This violence has continued over the years and has contributed to Nigeria’s ongoing energy supply crisis by discouraging foreign investment in the new power generation plants.

Kidnapping can be described as the act of forcefully seizure or abduction of someone against his own wish and rather illegally4. kidnapping and hostage taking are said to have similar meaning because they involve the forceful seizure of individuals out of their comfort zone ,without permission from such individuals including the fact that certain requirements and conditions are made that must be met before an individual is released. In other circumstances, after conditions are met, the victims are killed. These individuals go through traumatic experiences which are never forgotten in their life time. Kidnapping can be said to have entered the lexicon of the crime rate of the country till about 20034.This menace became widespread and serious in 20054.Most importantly it is also imperative to note that there are different motives for kidnapping and hostage taking but sometimes it is usually difficult to find a single motive. Motives can be either material motive which will definitely involve the use of ransom other times; other times, the motive might be in order to fulfill a particular condition or more likely a political stunt pulled by a fellow political aspirant5. Kidnapping and hostage taking can be said to be criminal offences and as such should be treated as one in the court of law.

The Niger delta has continued to experience numerous jeopardizes being the center of oil production activities, their land and fishing waters have been widely polluted which has resulted in the youths engaging in different acts of lawlessness such as kidnapping, bunkering, hostage taking blowing away oil pipelines in the Niger delta region6. The date 1999 and 2009 marked a period of over 519 kidnaps which had taken place in Nigeria and 40% of these incidences were never reported7. Kidnapping and Hostage taking were first used as a weapon to fight for economic and environmental justice in Niger delta and the economic motivation was used as a means to fight and sustain the fight but at the beginning of 2007 various other deviant groups by various names that hide under liberation struggle to commit crime surfaced..

Several researchers have shown that kidnapping and hostage taking came into Niger delta as a result of the expansion of multinational oil companies in Niger delta8. This can be said to be true because the Niger delta has for some years been the site of many confrontations between the people who live there and the Nigerian government security forces but today it is not entirely true8. It is cogent to put into consideration that Nigeria although being the largest oil producer in Africa which is suppose to turn Nigeria into one of the most prosperous state on the African continent has become one of the poorest countries, den of robbers, kidnappers and any sort of violence or terrorism. kidnapping and hostage taking can be said to have started in Niger delta as a result of certain dissatisfaction between the people and the oil companies but today kidnapping and hostage taking are now lucrative business with limited risks and kidnappers when caught are not even tried, convicted and subjected to a prescribed punishment in other occasion the court cases drag on for a number of years which is wrong8.

The national security issue of every country emphasizes on how to secure its territorial integrity and the civilian population within its is this thinking that guides Walter Lippmann in defining the national security as the capability of a country to protect its core values such a territorial is disappointing to state that even the police whose main goal is to safeguard the security of individuals in Nigeria are doing a poor job on it because they are often unprepared for the task and apart from their inadequacies there are also worrying signs that their loyalty is suspected because some whistle blowers have come to grief for confiding in the police10.The rate at which insecurity has spread all over the country has become a major concern for all citizens of Nigeria and non citizens because churches, mosques, market, schools ,homes and the high way are easily accessible for this crime which has led to foreign investors in oil companies within Nigeria? to be scared away and even staffs of these oil companies relocate their families outside the Nigeria . oil companies are also forced to leave regions due to this terrible menace of kidnapping and hostage taking. For example the agency report newspaper stated the rising hostilities(kidnapping and hostage taking by militants).This caused the soldiers of the joint military task force and militants in niger delta in order to stop shell oil production in Niger delta region10

Kidnapping and hostage taking poses major threats to the national security causing citizens in Nigeria to be scared for their lives and they no longer feel welcomed in Nigeria. National security as defined by the former president of United States is the security of a country, its citizens, partners and allies, a strong innovative and growing economy and an open international system that promotes opportunity and prosperity11. The implication of kidnapping on national security can be developed from this definition by the former president of United States because kidnapping has posed a great threat to the lives of individuals in Nigeria causing psychological traumas and nightmarish experiences for individuals and their families. There have been several reports of cases In kidnapping. This news when it is heard abroad causes partners and allies of Nigeria to not feel safe in coming over for business purposes which leads to breakdown of economic wealth and loss of future investors. If the people in the country do not feel safe how the visitors would feel safe? This does not promote prosperity in any way instead it leads to loss of opportunities and unavailability of stronger corporation to meet other global challenges

The crisis generated from the rampant kidnapping of innocent citizens who do not in any way relate to the issues between the oil producing communities and the oil companies in the Niger delta region. The kidnappers do this and ask for ransom12. The trends in the use of violence in the Niger delta region have been quite alarming. In the Niger delta region, kidnappings are done under the activities of groups such as MEND and others which their aims are to make the area uncomfortable for the oil companies. These groups come together with the aim of making the region uncomfortable for the oil companies and for them to leave their communities due to the damage being done during the oil exploration and production in these host communities12

Kidnapping and hostage taking are acts of terrorism and criminal act and also a breach to fundamental human rights of innocent victims. There are several reasons why people engage in the act of kidnapping. Some of the causes include; ethnic conflict, religious conflict, criminal intentions, poverty, unemployment, pervasive corruption, global economic meltdown13etc.

Kidnapping and hostage taking constitute a serious threat to security agencies and national security14. This work is therefore spurred by the rate of problems accumulating from kidnapping and hostage taking because everyone is greatly affected by this dangerous criminal attack in Nigeria and most especially Niger delta. This study with detailed research would bring to limelight the implications of kidnapping and hostage taking in Niger delta to national security and state practical recommendations to tackle this menace.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Kidnappings and hostage taking subjects victim to a high scale of insecurity and also millions of individuals lose their life and also become traumatized for the rest of their lives. Being kidnapped is probably one of the most harrowing experiences a person can be subjected to, no matter how short the period of captivity. The case of kidnapping is not a sudden occurrence to Nigerians, it is unlikely to say the government has done nothing to halt or manage this major challenge to the security of Nigerians. Several measures have been taken by the government like trying to conduct peaceful negations, putting soldiers in extreme surveillances of the areas affected, organizing special security services to guide the areas and even providing amnesty to militants. One might think that with all the efforts of the government to halt this issue maybe at this point it has reduced but then it is safe to say with the past and current attacks that kidnapping and hostage taking has been on the increase despite the efforts of the government to tackle this security issue. The security challenges posed by kidnapping and hostage taking has also led to under development in Nigeria because as the sense of insecurity arises, more opportunities for development are lost as investors ,partnerships, quality education, additional employment opportunities are reduced or conditioned to the problems faced.. This has become a major problem to national security because the efforts made by the government to aid this threat to the security of Nigerians are seen as a drop of water into the ocean which means no difference is made. More youths have decided to engage into this crime because it is seen as an easy way to make cool cash and live within their means.

Although safety is known to be on the second level of the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs but the need for food, water, shelter and clothing which occupy the first level require a safe condition for them to be made available, this is just to show the importance of safety15. Although safety is regarded as less important to water and food but water and food require a safe condition to be made available. Kidnapping and hostage taking pose a massive challenge to the safety of individuals and as such is a threat to national security15. Most importantly we also need to put into consideration the fact that if a country like Nigeria is facing these problems of kidnapping and hostage taking which is obviously still affecting the citizens of our country how would Nigeria be able to focus on external threats from other countries. Kidnapping and hostage taking has posed a great challenge for national security because if a country cannot be stable enough to care for its citizens how can such country save its citizens from external dangers? The former President of Nigeria Goodluck Ebele Jonathan commented on kidnapping in the light of its challenges to national security, he said that this security challenge crawled in gradually as if it would not be too harmful and this caused the government not to take attack but now it has become a cancer that needs surgical operation to cure16 ’’.This statement by the former president means that kidnapping and hostage taking initially was not seen as a threat to national security but as a fair outrage by certain individuals to ascertain their rights but today it is a major challenge to citizens and it has become a serious threat that needs special measures to manage. Kidnapping and hostage taking poses serious threat to the stability of the socio political and economic life of Nigerians and as such creates strong challenges to national security. Kidnapping and hostage taking have been seen as;

  1. A product of extreme poverty caused by unemployment.
  2. Alienation of certain section of the society from the social surplus controlled by the ruling class.
  3. One of the negative falls outs of the Niger Delta struggle for resource control and self determination,
  4. A shift from the apparently more dangerous Pipeline vandalization and illegal oil bunkering to a less risky business of kidnapping and hostage taking,
  5. Manifestation of the manipulative gimmick of an extractive cabal in the region who benefit from these criminal activities,
  6. Failure of multinational companies to discharge their corporate social responsibilities to the host communities, such as the case of Niger delta

This study will thus attempt to examine kidnappings and hostage taking in Niger delta; implications for national security and try to offer useful recommendations that could stem this ugly trend. This study will as well highlight the effect this ugly trend posses to the national security and explain how it has been a great challenge to national security.

1.3 Aims and Objectives

This study seeks to examine kidnapping and hostage taking: implications for national security. The specific objectives are to:

  1. Identify the root cause(s) of kidnapping and hostage taking
  2. Determine the impact of kidnapping and hostage taking on national security.
  3. It shall also bring to limelight the connection of kidnapping and hostage taking on national security.
  4. Detailed examination of the Niger delta region
  5. To point out the impacts of efforts made by the government so far.

In the final analysis, shall provide useful recommendations to manage the menace of kidnapping and hostage taking in Nigeria in other to promote national security.

1.4 Significance of the Study

Since independence, Nigeria has been moving from one crisis to another and it has in some cases challenged the ability of our political leaders to institutionalize an era of peace where sustainable development will be unhindered and every Nigerian citizen would feel at home without fear of any unknown individual gaining access into homes and taking loved ones for ransom.

The recommendations from this study will add to existing knowledge in order to propel the government to think of better ways to combat the menaces of the alarming phenomenon of kidnapping and hostage taking in the Niger Delta region and Nigeria as a whole. This study is also expected to help the readers to identify the dangers of kidnapping and hostage taking to citizens and its impacts in the national security. The study is equally important as it would inspire scholars to theorize on the study area to expanding the frontiers of knowledge on kidnapping and hostage taking in Nigeria specifically, other developing and developed nations.

1.5 Scope and Limitation of the Study

In content, this study aimed to examine kidnapping and hostage taking: implications and challenges for national security. Geographically, it is limited to the Niger delta region of Nigeria. The search shall strictly be on kidnapping and hostage taking in the aforementioned region.

Initially a major limitation to this study was trying to differentiate between the authenticities of sources gotten from internet because some of these sources were ideas put up with no empirical evidence to support their claims so in order to tackle this issue, a thorough research of comparing different book from the library with these internet journals.

However, this limitation does not in any way affect the validity and authenticity of this work

1.6 Research Methodology

In carrying this research, the study used a type of qualitative research known as the historical descriptive method which involves primary and secondary sources. The major primary source used is library. The secondary sources used includes; textbooks, internet, research papers, journals and newspapers from the library. The sources will be used to provide a comprehensive study of kidnapping and hostage taking in Niger delta and its implications for national security.

This method was used to generate my data because it involved interpreting past events to predict future events. My study needed me synthesizing data from many different sources .My study has so many independent and dependent variables so it is cogent to describe these variables in other to make my research work properly understood by any reader.

1.7. Literature Review

Several scholars have written on the subject, kidnapping in Nigeria. While some of these works attempted to provide solutions to this menace, others have been in the main reportorial of the events as they occur. An attempt has been made in the research work to select some of the most germane to the issue for review.

Robert McNamara in his book the essence of security posits that in modernizing society security means development. Security is not military force although it may involve it. Security is not military activity although it may include it. Security is development and without development there can be no security17. This entails that kidnapping and hostage taking which are major threats to national security can be tangled by national development not just military actions although it may involve it. Nigeria needs to move to a level of development in order to tackle the menace of kidnapping and hostage taking.

Briggs in his book the Kidnapping Business, defines kidnapping as to hold or carry off usually for ransom’ and encompasses a wide variety of crimes .Briggs also added that the reason for the increase in kidnapping at African countries, Nigeria and south Africa most especially, is as a result of the expansion of multinational companies into these African countries following the rich natural resources on offer18.

Etannibi describes kidnapping as the taking and detention of an individual by force, without his or her consent in violation of law, and in pursuance of political economic and other objectives’. In addition Ettannibi summits that:

…” In 2006.the country witnessed an addition to the lists of crimes of serious concern. The new entry of kidnapping of foreign oil workers in the Niger delta by militants that were waging violent campaign against the government in order to draw attention to the neglect and environmental degradation of the niger delta communities”.19

Odoh confirms that the current wave of kidnapping began with the abduction of expatriate oil workers by the movement for the emancipation of the niger delta(MEND,a youth group) in late 2005 as a means of alerting the world of the many years of injustice, exploitation, marginalization and underdevelopment in the region20.

Thom-otuya opines that kidnapping and hostage taking in Nigeria started in the niger delta region in 1999,while kidnap for ransom became prevalent as from 2005.this menace has spread like wild fire to other parts of the states in nigeria21meanwhile okoye et al confirms that kidnapping is a criminal behavior which represents a typical rational crime. it has also increased in breath and sophistication since its advent in Nigeria21.

Inyang and Abraham posits that kidnapping as a forcible seizure or taking away and unlawful detention of a person against his /her will22. They also went on to say that it is a common law offence and the key part is that it is an unwanted act on the part of the victim ,In addition they also regard kidnapping as a restriction of someone else’s liberty which violates the provision of freedom of movement as enshrined in the constitution of federal Nigeria where every other law takes its cue from, and in conclusion, stated that kidnapping is usually motivated by financial gain or political demand. This causes the opportunist or traditional criminals to join kidnapping in other to attain economic gains or have their demands granted22.

Rodanthi Tzanelli opined that the most widespread typology of kidnapping incidents takes as a starting point criminal motivation which produces a bipolar analysis of the crime as economic or political23. This implies that kidnapping starts as a result of criminal motivation which produces different analysis to determine if it is as a result of political or economic reasons. In his journal he went on to argue that kidnapping presents all the characteristics of a rationalized system of exchange based on rules and regulations which are reminiscent of legitimate business12.

Turner in his work, stated that the phenomenon of kidnapping and hostage taking began in the Niger delta region as a freedom fight by milllitlants protesting the degradation of the its environment by oil industrial activities24.

Uzorma and Uwanegbo are of the opinon that kidnapping occurs when a person is abducted and taken from one place to the other against their will, or a situation in which a person is confined to a controlled space without the confinement being from a legal authority25.This means that when a person is held in a place without his/her consent unlawfully for the purpose of ransom is known as a criminal act.

Abolurin opines that the act of kidnapping is not justifiable neither is it justiceable by whatever agitation an individual or a group may have and is totally other words the act of kidnapping and hostage taking is not justifiable despite the reason for such action because at the end of the day it endangers the innocent people26

Akpan also stated that kidnapping emerged as a consequence of total neglect of the Niger delta by the multinational corporations and the failure of governance in the fourth republic. In addition he said the persistent failure of the state to ensure equitable distribution, neglect and alienation on the part of the Niger delta people also culminated into higher level of militancy in the fourth republic. his work also covers the kidnapping and hostage taking crisis in niger delta region giving an exploratory study of the phenomenon. The work also gave an overview of developmental implications of kidnapping on state economy27

Capt.olaiya confirms that the menace of kidnapping in this country is a threat to sustainable Nigeria and national security. In adition he stated that the evil started 6 years ago, particularly during the former president goodluck’s regime. He stressed further;.

The major cause for the incessant kidnapping in Nigeria is abound with the unexpected change of administration that harshly affected the muggers in the Niger delta that was assigned by the former president with billions of Naira to of individuals(28).

Meanwhile, jesse states that kidnapping takes innumerable forms but the growing pervasiveness of kidnapping crimes and their growing brutality has made the issue an important one for international community. It is always traumatic to the immediate victims, their families, friends and the colleagues, kidnapping has grown into a criminal industry in some parts of the world increasingly used by terrorist organizations to gain influence, funding and slaves.29.Contrary to the assertion of Mohammed who traced the concept of kidnapping to have originated around 168230,Turner argues that this menace of kidnapping originated from England in the 17th century where children were kidnapped and sold as slaves or workers in farms31

1.7. Chapter Synopsis:

  • Chapter 1 gives the background to the study, statement of problem, aims and objectives, significance of study, scope and limitation, research methodology and literature review.
  • Chapter 2 provides an overview on the life of the Niger delta people, including occupation .lifestyles, environmental problems, advent of petroleum creeks, federal government and deprivation of development efforts in Niger delta
  • Chapter 3 gives the overview of the nature and state of kidnapping and hostage taking in Nigeria including the origin of kidnapping and hostage taking, effort of the state and federal government in combating this menace, case studies of people kidnapped and more importantly methods of kidnapping.
  • Chapter 4 deals with the implication or impact of hostage taking and kidnapping to national security and effects of it to Niger delta.

Kidnapping And Hostage Taking: Implications And Challenges For National Security

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Kidnapping And Hostage Taking: Implications And Challenges For National Security


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