Reports of kidnapping have become common in Nigeria. Though not a new trend, kidnappers have continued to devise new methods to lure victims. Below are some of the new tricks to watch out for as written by MOTUNRAYO JOEL
Ploy at parties
In this method, a note is dubiously passed to the master of ceremonies requesting the owner of an identified vehicle to come out and move his or her vehicle to allow others parking access. Immediately the individual gets to his car, the kidnappers grab the person and zoom off in the car.
This was what happened to Mr. Remi Olakunri who was kidnapped at a party venue in Lagos some months ago.
Olakunri, who drove an SUV to the venue, heard his car’s number plate called out by the emcee, requesting him to step outside to move his vehicle. As Olakunri got to his car, three men grabbed him and forced him to drive off in his vehicle. Over N1m ransom was paid before his abductors released him.
The modus operandi of kidnappers includes mounting road blocks on highways in military uniforms and staging a surprise attack on unsuspecting motorists.
An All Progressives Congress governorship aspirant in Ondo State, Victor Olabimtan, was abducted by gunmen after he declared his interest to contest the state’s governorship election.
Olabimtan was on his way to Abuja when some persons in military attire, who dubiously manned a road block on the expressway kidnapped him.
Disguising as church members
There have been several reports of how kidnappers found their way into churches, disguised as church members and waited for the service to end before carrying out their criminal act.
A pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Isawo branch, Ikorodu, Lagos, was recently abducted by gunmen who disguised as members of the church and whisked him away after the service.
According to a security expert, Mr. Pedro Ayandokun, kidnappers now target isolated automated teller machines with long queues of customers.
“These kidnappers look out for the last person in a queue because such individual will be an easy target for them. Nigerians should avoid using isolated ATMs even during the day. Bank customers should always use ATMs within the confines of a bank,” he said.
Fake job interviews
Text messages for job interviews are randomly sent to the mobile phones of persons who did not apply for the job. Their agenda is to get desperate job seekers to an arranged venue and hold them before contacting their relatives to pay ransom.
A victim, Mr. Segun Abiodun, who travelled to Port Harcourt, Rivers State, for a job interview was abducted by those who purportedly had a job offer for him. His abductors initially demanded N5m before it was reduced to N2m.
Neighbours as bait
Security agencies have constantly warned Nigerians against opening their doors for neighbours at odd hours.
It had been observed that kidnappers, rather than heading for the house of their potential victim directly, use the person’s neighbour to knock on the door or gate of their potential victim. Their belief is that their target would open the door for the neighbour.
Luring children with gifts
Two months ago, Bayo Adeyemi, a male pupil of a school in Okokomaiko area of Lagos State, was kidnapped on his way home after closing hours.
Bayo and his brother were on their way home when the kidnappers, who were in a bus, accosted them on the road and gave the elder brother N100 to buy candy and biscuits. The victim offered to run the errand with his younger brother but they ordered him to leave his brother behind.
While returning from the errand, he discovered that the bus was leaving. Being a child, rather than raise the alarm, he ran home to alert his mother and before they arrived at the scene, the kidnappers had disappeared with his brother.
Commenting on the development, a security consultant, Mr. Simon Udie, said every Nigerian should be extremely vigilant.
“Nigerians should observe every strange happening around them. The criminal mind is just as good as an intelligent mind, they try to use new tactics to lure their victims,” he said.
Switching off generators
When kidnappers identify a house that is easily penetrable, especially at night, they locate where the electricity switch box is and disconnect the power source. They wait for any of the occupants to come out to check what might have happened. In the process, he or she is kidnapped. They may also switch off generator to lure their target.
Mr. Tunji Ajayi who resides in Agbado/Oke-Odo Local Council Development Area of Lagos State could have fallen victim but for his suspicion.
He said his generator was switched off after some persons gained entry to his compound. He told our correspondent that when they noticed that he didn’t come out after they had waited for hours; they walked out of his compound.
Pretending as relatives
The ninety-year-old father of Mr. Oluwole Adalumo, who owns a hotel in Ikole, Ekiti State, Ajagunna Adalumo fell victim to this technique. He was kidnapped from his house at Oke-Ijebu, Ikole Ekiti. Bimbo Ajayi, who is a relative of the victim, said the kidnappers came into the premises of the aged man around 8pm. Ajayi said a man entered the house of Pa Adalumo under the pretence that the victim’s son sent him to the old man. He later drove him away in a car he brought.
As much as many would want to offer help to persons in need, giving strangers a lift could be a wrong move. There was a report last year of one Mrs. Abike Lawal who visited a popular shopping mall in Lagos. As she was about to leave, she noticed that one of her tyres had been slashed.
In her disturbed state, a friendly, well-dressed and articulate young man showed up like a knight in shining armour to help her. After assisting her, he asked for a ride to where he said he parked his car. Without waiting for her response, he entered the car but the woman suspected foul play and excused herself to buy something.
She went to a security guard and told him what happened. The security guard went with her to the car but the young man had left.
In 2013, a report by Sheriff Deputies Limited, a private Security Company in Nigeria, stated that the South-West had the highest incidence of kidnapping with five per cent, followed by the South-East and South-South with four per cent each.
It noted that North-West and North-East each had an incidence of three per cent, with the lowest being North-Central at two per cent.
The Lagos State Police Command said between January and June this year, there were 19 cases of kidnappings.
The spokesperson for the command, Dolapo Badmos, told SUNDAY PUNCH that 15 suspected kidnappers had been charged to court.
Badmos also said culprits involved in robbery and pipeline vandalism had turned to kidnapping.
She added that some of the communities vulnerable to kidnapping are those close to waterways, because kidnappers could quickly escape with their victims without encountering an immediate chase by residents or security officials.
A security consultant, Mr. Bunmi Odukoya, said kidnapping of Nigerians had increased.
Odukoya said, “Criminals know that police are rarely contacted after a kidnap and that families are quick to pay ransom for the release of their relatives. Kidnappers can be particularly brutal and can physically assault their victims and those delivering ransoms.”
Insufficient security agents
The current number of police officers is said to be about 370,000 to about 170 million Nigerians.This fell short of the United Nations recommendation of 222 police officers per 100,000 persons.
President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the recruitment of 10,000 policemen into the nation’s Police Force to reinforce the police for better service.
Another security expert and Chairman Mentorship Committee, American Society for Industrial Security, Abuja Chapter, Prof. Femi Adegbulu, said it appeared that the law enforcement agents had lost the battle to kidnappers.
“Most cases of kidnap are between you and your God. It depends on your negotiating power for your loved one to be freed, if kidnapped. We hear reports saying no ransom was paid, but those criminals are not foolish. These criminals risk their lives to kidnap an individual, and they know that if caught, they would be jailed or face death penalty. Why then would they kidnap someone and not get money?’’ he stated.
Badmos said parents have a moral and physical duty to protect their children.
She added, ‘‘People living close to waterways should be sensitive and extremely security conscious. We have foiled about two kidnap attempts in partnership with the communities involved.”