When nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped from their boarding school by the Islamist group Boko Haram in 2014, the world exploded in outrage. Hundreds marched in the country’s capital, the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls was picked up by then First Lady Michelle Obama and Nigeria’s president scrambled to respond to the mass abduction in the village of Chibok.
It seemed an aberration. But since last December, mass kidnappings of girls and boys at boarding schools in northwest Nigeria have been happening more and more frequently — at least one every three weeks. Just last Friday, more than 300 girls were taken from their school in Zamfara state. They were released this week, the governor of the state announced early Tuesday. The week before, more than 40 children and adults were abducted from a boarding school in Niger state. They were freed on Saturday.
With Nigeria’s economy in crisis, kidnapping has become a growth industry, according to interviews with security analysts and a recent report on the economics of abductions. The victims are now not just the rich, powerful or famous, but also the poor — and increasingly, school children who are rounded up en masse.
The perpetrators are often gangs of bandits, who are taking advantage of a dearth of effective policing and the easy availability of guns.
The victims of kidnappings for ransom in Nigeria are not just the rich, powerful or famous, but also the poor. Mass abductions of girls and boys at boarding schools in the northwest have been happening at least once every three weeks since last December. https://t.co/w8YkEKtHgz
— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 1, 2021