Nigeria’s Boarding Schools Have Become a Hunting Ground for Kidnappers


It happened to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the new director-general of the World Trade Organization. Her mother was kidnapped in 2012 even as Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was trying to stamp out corruption as Nigeria’s finance minister. The kidnappers demanded that she resign on television, but when she refused, they settled for a $60,000 ransom.

It happened to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the internationally acclaimed author. Her father was kidnapped in 2015, targeted because of his famous daughter. Her mother spoke to one of the kidnappers, calling him “sir” and “my son” in an attempt not to antagonize him.

“I understood then the hush that surrounds kidnappings in Nigeria, why families often said little even after it was over,” Ms. Adichie wrote later, after the money was paid and her father was released. “We felt paranoid. We did not know if going public would jeopardize my father’s life, if the neighbors were complicit, if another member of the family might be kidnapped as well.”

It happened to Nigeria’s former president, Goodluck Jonathan, whose uncle was snatched in 2016 and later released.

But it was the kidnapping of the 300 schoolgirls from Chibok in 2014 that “provided inspiration for subsequent heists,” according to a recent report, also by SBM Intelligence on the security situation in Niger state, where several of the kidnappings have taken place.


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