Sunday, July 21, 2013

Nigeria: British Expatriate Kidnapped After Leaving Lagos International Airport

According to The Daily Post, an unnamed British expatriate (male) was kidnapped after returning to Lagos International Airport on Thursday night (July 18) from the UK at approximately 2030 hours by a group of heavily armed gunmen, as he and his driver were leaving the airport proper.

Although detailed information on the abduction remain very sketchy, it appears that the kidnap victim arrived aboard a KLM flight from Amsterdam. The Briton's driver, Kojo Jacobs, an employee of Russell, an oil services company based in Lekki, was driving him in a black Kia Sportage registered, MA 266 EKY, when they were  forced to a stop.

Jacobs was subsequently shot and injured during the abduction, but was later treated and hospitalized at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital.

COMMENT: The Briton's vehicle was sprayed with bullets after being ambushed on Thursday night shorty after leaving Lagos International Airport, authorities revealed. It is understood he was returned to a residential district of Lagos where kidnappings are comparatively rare.

The British High Commission said diplomats were “working closely” with the authorities to secure the kidnap victim's release. A spokesman said it was hoping for an effective resolution but “could not go into further detail” because of the “nature of this incident."

Increasingly, ransom kidnappings and those executed by radical ideological and Islamist motivations are on the rise. It is now estimated that the emerging kidnap market in Nigeria approaches tens of millions of dollars annually.

Abductions are a frequent occurrence in the oil states, but are rarer in Lagos, where many foreigners live safely.

A British businessman was kidnapped in March in an upmarket district of Nigeria’s commercial capital but was released four days later. The man was abducted at around 2300 hours while on his way home from a nightclub in the high-end residential and business neighborhood of Victoria. It is assumed that a ransom was paid to secure his release.

In March of this year, the Islamist group, Ansaru, executed seven foreign hostages in March.

Foreign nationals were targeted in the affluent Lagos areas of Ikoyi, Victoria Island and Epe-Lekki, sparking speculation that organized criminal gangs have renewed their focus on the city’s upscale districts given their relatively permissive security environments.

Needless to say,  foreign expats of all nationalities should do the following in terms of being prepared for a kidnapping:

1. Face the reality that it CAN happen;

2. If employed by a multinational organization, determine in advance what protocols the employer has in place to prevent a kidnapping and whether employees are covered by kidnap/ransom extortion insurance;

3. If your personal security is dependent on yourself, develop a family kidnap plan oriented toward two types of kidnappings: (1) ransom demands; and (2) those conducted by Islamist extremists for ideological motivations;

4. Avoid being a creature of habit. Be PREDICTABLY unpredictable;

5.  Vary your routes and departure and arrival times AT ALL TIMES;

6.  Realize that most kidnappings take place between one's home and office or at either location. Thus, it is essential that residential, family, school and office security be formidable; 

7. Realize that family members may also be targeted, leaving the breadwinner to make arrangements for the payment of a ransom or making concessions;

8. Realize that kidnappings by Islamist extremists may or may not include execution in order to embarrass the Nigerian government;

9. Ensure that you have photographs, fingerprints, dental records and voiceprints of all potential persons who may be kidnapped; and

10. Consider the use of a ballistic-resistant vehicle for the transportation of  employees and expatriate family members, provided that a trusted local or TCN has professional driving experience.