Local politician, Swiss man among latest kidnap victims in Nigeria

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A politician was abducted from his home in northern Nigeria on Monday and a Swiss national was kidnapped in a separate incident in the southwest over the weekend, authorities said.

Abductions for ransom have become a big problem in many areas of Nigeria in recent months, fueled in part by economic hardship linked to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Mohammed Sani Idris, a member of the state government in northern Niger State, was taken from his home in the village of Baban Tunga during the night by unknown assailants, a spokeswoman for the state governor said.

In southwestern Ogun State, a Swiss national and his Nigerian driver were abducted on Saturday after a gunfight between their police escort and unknown attackers, said Abimbola Oyeyemi, the state’s police spokesman.

“In an exchange of gunfire, the police killed two of the bandits but the rest used the victims as human shields so the police couldn’t act further,” he said.

“Police and other security agencies have mobilized and are on the trail of the bandits to rescue the victims.”

The rise in abductions and armed robberies, especially in rural areas, is having a devastating effect on Nigerian society, with food shortages on the rise as farmers are unable to access their fields, and people are too scared to travel anywhere.

The crisis is particularly bad in northwestern states, where more than 1,000 schoolchildren have been kidnapped since December in attacks on schools. Some have been released following ransom payments.

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