Kidnaps: What Uganda can learn from elsewhere and how to stop it

Beecham Okwere David

Kidnapping is a global and historic issue in Federal Republic of Nigeria, Uganda, America, Mexico, and other parts of the world and good governments are doing as much as they can to ensure that the kidnappers are captured and punished.

Kidnapping is abducting and holding anybody captive, typically to obtain a ransom. Sometimes kidnappers hold their captives longer in order to demand more from the relatives of the victim.

There are many causes of kidnapping, among them are unemployment, poverty, religion, political issues, and so on. The practice can be reduced with governmental involvement.

Kidnapping in Nigeria as a case study

Kidnapping is not new in Nigeria and is one of the country’s big challenges. Nigeria faces problems in education, unemployment, and corruption, but kidnapping—thanks to high-profile incidents perpetrated by Boko Haram—has drawn the attention of both Nigerians and international organisations.

Facts and figures show that the kidnapping frequency in the country is high.

In recent years, attention has turned to this issue in this part of Africa which is mostly carried out by Boko Haram.

Both national and international bodies are coming together to see if the incidence can be reduced. Chad, Cameroon, and the United States recently joined in the fight.

Boko Haram’s kidnappings are both political and religious, according to both to their own leaders and the Nigerian government.

Boko Haram

The kidnappings are political because politicians who are bad eggs want to destroy the leadership of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The attacks and kidnappings are at the same time religious because of the group’s fundamentalist Islamism. The meaning of their name is “Western education is prohibited,” which is why they continue to target school children.

On the night of 14-15 April 2014, about 276 16 to 18-year-old Chibok school girls were kidnapped by the Boko Haram.

Sometimes, ordinary citizens participate in this crime in order to fill their pockets, usually youths employed by rich men who conduct kidnapping as a modern business.

They target rich families and sometimes demand up to twenty million naira ($119,047.62).

A popular Christian music singer in Nigeria, Chika Okpala, lamented that kidnappers had abducted his friend in one of his songs titled “Ndi Nto” (meaning “the kidnappers”).

He stated that when they were asked why they did it, they said they needed money, and they did not have any jobs because of high unemployment in the country.

The government of the Anambra state in Nigeria recently made a new law altering the punishment any perpetrator caught in the act of kidnapping will receive.

The law was made during the leadership of Governor Peter Obi of APGA and said that any person caught in the offence of kidnapping will be sentenced to death and anything bought with the ransom money, like a house or car, will be destroyed.

Kidnapping worldwide

The rate of kidnapping in Europe, North, and South America is attracting the attention of people all over the globe.

Some people have made a lot of money this way and some have taken it as their businesses.

In Mexico, with its history of drug-war violence and corrupt police, kidnapping is an old story.

Mexico suffered an estimated 105,682 kidnappings in 2012 (U.S Department of State, 2014).

In 2013, Mexico officially recorded 1,698 kidnappings, the highest number on record (Washington Post, 2014). That same year, Marian’s Organisation Association tallied kidnappings in Mexico at 3,038.

The disappearance of children in the United States is not unheard of, either, and it is one of the things that the security apparatus in that country is working to overcome.

According to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, roughly 800,000 children are reported missing each year in the US.

The act of kidnapping has made so many people lost their sense of reasoning. That was seen in the incidence that took place in the United Kingdom where a woman kidnapped her own daughter.

This was reported through The Sun UK Newspaper publication. Quoting from among the lines of the news report, “Karen Matthews was jailed for eight years for her part in faking the kidnap of her own daughter in 2008. The mum-of-seven, who has been dubbed Britain’s Most Hated Mum, was released from prison after serving half of her sentence.”

The questions may be, why should a mother kidnap her daughter? Is she normal at all? The answer is that she kidnapped her own daughter just for business.

The answer to the second question is that she was completely normal.

She kidnapped her daughter so that she could claim £50,000 reward money for finding Shannon as the money would not come out from her own pocket.

What a shallow thinking. She planned to share the ransom with her relative Michael Donovan who entered the plot with her. They wanted to walk away with the money reward made by the government to who would find the child.

According to the Offender Management Caseload Statistics, UK had recorded about 57 convicted kidnappings cases between 2007-2008.

Kidnapping has also affected those that occupied top positions in some countries. This can either be directly or indirectly. The son of the former president of Slovakia was once kidnapped.

This is confirmed by the publication of The Economist in 2017. In August 1995 Michal Kovac Jr, whose father was president of newly independent Slovakia, was stopped in his car by armed men who handcuffed him, forced him to drink two bottles of whisky and began driving him to an unknown destination

Causes of Kidnapping


The high unemployment rate in many countries has pushed citizens to make money through abduction. The unemployed youth turn to crime to make money.

They believe that when they kidnap the rich, they will share in the richness of the rich by getting their own cut.


Any person who lives below $1.25 a day is said to be poor. Poverty is a propelling force that pushes people toward crime.

They find themselves into kidnapping because they are no longer happy with their own condition. Sometimes, they believe that one successful kidnapping will fetch them the money they will need to start a clean business.


Illiteracy is the inability to read or write. When people can read and write, they gain knowledge that can help them in life, and their literacy helps them understand the core consequence of a particular action. The kidnappings and bombings by Boko Haram are caused by illiteracy, at least in part.

These men are fed false information by their leaders and that is why they go as far as suicide-bombing, killing, and kidnapping. They are told that by dying in a suicide bombing or kidnapping, they will inherit the kingdom.


Religion is another cause. Some people love their religion so much that even when that religion is teaching them the wrong thing, they believe it is right.

Many kidnappings in the world today have their root cause in religion. The head of one religion may want to overshadow the other and propel his men to kidnap his opponents.


Some want to own everything in the world. When men are not content with what they have, they may turn to crime to make more money.

A wicked businessman can kidnap his business rival to take some money from him and become richer.


Some thugs who are sponsored by politicians arrange for the kidnapping of their opponents. Sometimes, they do this so that their opponents will make concessions or change their votes on the issues.


A society where corruption is customary is likely to experience a high level of kidnapping. The truth is that when any government indulges in corruption by embezzling public funds, citizens will react by kidnapping these politicians in an attempt to regain the money that was stolen from them.

The Effects or Consequences of Kidnapping

Psychological Trauma

The negative psychological effects of being abducted are huge, especially for a child. Depression, anxiety, PTSD may last a lifetime.

Fear and Lack of Trust

In a society where the incidence of kidnapping is high, fear limits people’s lives and actions. They always move with caution as they do not know who is likely to be the next target. The rich men surround themselves with security guards because of the fear of getting kidnapped.

Solutions to Kidnapping

There are solutions which when applied will help reduce the rate of kidnapping in any society or country. Among them are:

Training strong anti-kidnapping agentsMonitoring the activities of the policemenSerious punishment for any kidnapperJob creation

Training Anti-Kidnapping Agents

Any society that wants to fight kidnapping successfully should hire and train capable people to combat the issue. When law enforcement agencies are actively involved, the incidence of the crime is lessened.

Monitoring the Activities of the Policemen

Reports have shown that policemen assist in some kidnappings. Notable examples are some of the abductions that take place in Mexico. Eliminating the criminals within the ranks of law enforcement is key.

Seriously Punishing Any Kidnapper Caught

Mild punishment only serves to encourage the criminal. When the government treats kidnappers harshly, fewer crimes will be committed.

Job creation

Generating jobs for the citizens of every country, especially the youth, will promote the fight against crime.

When they people are gainfully employed, they won’t need to commit crimes.

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