Monday, March 25, 2013

Nigeria: Kidnapped Nursing Journalist Released After Family Pays Ransom

As a follow-up to my posting of March 23, re: the March 21 abduction of nursing journalist and broadcaster for the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Olubunmi Oke, who was kidnapped by four men in Akure (Ondo state) as she was preparing to leave her office with her six-month-old infant and her maid.

Given the short period of captivity that  Mrs. Oke experienced, it might well have more manageable for the abductors to kidnap only the target of the abduction.

Although initially it did not make a great deal of sense to see a journalist kidnapped, what does make perfect sense is that Mrs. Oke is married to a banker, which translates into an ideal candidate for a ransom kidnapping if it were commonly known at NTA that the family was financially comfortable, if not perceived as wealthy in crime-ridden Nigeria.

While the original demand for Mrs. Oke's release was set at N16 million (US$100,819), eventually the family agreed to pay  N1 million (US$6,300+) at which point Oke was released late on Saturday (March 23) after payment was arranged.

COMMENT: Considering that Mrs. Oke is a member of the media, she was understandably barred from granting interviews on her ordeal, as such exposure of information would only aid other would-be kidnappers with time on their hands. 

As in the case of thousands of other similar kidnap cases where the motive is money, wealthy residents, travelers and expatriates worldwide need to carefully consult professionals and assess their probability of being kidnapped for ransom.

If it is determined that there is a probable risk of being abducted, families or employers should take the additional steps of formulating a Kidnap Response Plan that addresses likely monetary demands so that the principals involved can prepare for the worst.

Additionally, such a plan would also include identifying all security vulnerabilities at home, office, school, etc. and places commonly visited so as to reduce physical, procedural and policy considerations that might well make an abduction easier.

For principals who might fetch significant ransom demands, arranging for kidnap-ransom insurance should not be ruled out, depending upon the country and the nationality of the target.