Kidnapping for ransom has been a long-standing problem in southern Nigeria, particularly in the oil-producing delta region, where criminal gangs target wealthy Nigerians and expatriate workers.

Most are usually released after the payment of a ransom.

A New Zealander and at least two Australians have been kidnapped in southern Nigeria by gunmen who killed their local driver.

In the 2000s, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) took foreign employees of oil companies in the Niger Delta hostage in exchange for ransom. More than 200 foreigners have been kidnapped since 2006, according to the Nation.

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The Nation reports that kidnapping for ransom has since grown to a "frightening level" in Nigeria with ordinary people potential victims and perpetrators.

It says "a recent unofficial report put the annual figure in at well over 1000" cases. From militant groups the problem has extended to kidnapping syndicates and ordinary criminals.

"There have been reported cases of people stage-managing their own kidnappings in connivance with supposed kidnappers and later share the ransom after it had been paid by their family."


ABOUT NIGERIA
1 Nigeria is on the Gulf of Guinea in Africa
2 The capital of the country is Abuja and currency the Nigerian naira
3 More than 173.6 million people live in the country and English is the official language
4 The President is Muhammadu Buhari who took over from Goodluck Jonathan


The Nation reports that in one case in 2013, a woman was arrested by the police in Enugu after she allegedly faked her own kidnapping to demand a ransom from her husband. Nancy Chukwu, a housewife and trader, conspired with a man to stage her abduction and asked for N200,000 as ransom.

Piracy is also an issue in Nigeria.

Business Day reports that in February' a South African ship's captain was hailed as a heroine after she outsmarted a gang of pirates off the Nigerian coast.

Zetta Gous-Conradie and her crew on a container ship had come under attack when pirates boarded the ship and opened fire on the bridge. The captain ordered her crew to take cover in the engine room' while she alerted the Nigerian Navy' and kept everyone calm until help arrived.

- AFP, Business Day, The Nation