| 15 April 2024, Monday |

Nigeria protesters block highway after kidnapping surge

Setting tyres on fire, a crowd barricaded a section of the Abuja-Kaduna highway in the Tafa area of Niger state, bordering the federal capital, an AFP journalist at the scene reported.

“Kidnappers too much!” an angry young man shouted.

“Five days ago, they kidnapped four people, and then they came back again, yesterday, and kidnapped 16 people,” one protester said.

Africa’s most populous country has been plagued by kidnappings for years, with criminals largely targeting the wealthy and prominent.

But more recently, the pool of victims has expanded and the vulnerable and poor across the country are now also taken for ransom.

“It’s not ok. It’s getting too much,” the protester said. “Any time they come, the security always come after they have left.”

Local media reported that 12 people were kidnapped in nearby Madalla town and two others in Bwari just last week.

“We are having serious chaos… We don’t sleep here, we don’t sleep at all… If there is no good reinforcement, the problem will go far beyond this,” another protester said.

“We are not safe here… Please we are begging the government,” said a woman who said her sister lives in the area with her four children.

Marching along the highway, a dozen young men chanted: “Kidnapping must stop… We won’t accept this, kidnapping must stop!”

Police in Abuja and Niger state did not respond to calls and messages seeking comment about the protest.

Dozens of cargo and tanker trucks remained stuck in traffic just before midday.