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Safer Edge Insights: Nigeria

Kidnap in Kaduna; six international visitors abducted in two separate incidents

In January there were two separate incidents of international visitors being kidnapped in Kaduna State in north western Nigeria. In both incidents a total of six individuals were abducted.

The first abduction took place at around 19:00 on 16 January when unknown gunmen stopped two vehicles carrying two Canadians and two Americans near Kagarko. The group were travelling to Abuja on the Kwoi-Jere road. Their two police escorts were killed by the gunmen during the abduction.

According to local media reports, the four individuals were rescued by security forces on 20 January and handed over to the American Embassy in Abuja. It is not immediately clear what the four foreigners were doing in Kaduna State.

The second incident took place on 23 January, with two South African nationals being kidnapped from a mining site in Maidaro village. Reports suggest they were then held in Birnin Gwari Forrest before being freed during a security operation on 27 January.


The kidnap of international visitors for ransom has long been a threat in the Niger Delta states of Nigeria. Militant and criminal groups primarily target individuals who are working in the extractive industries. The threat for internationals operating in the Delta area was demonstrated previously demonstrated in November 2017, when four British NGO workers were kidnapped, one of whom was killed in captivity. Cases have also been sporadically reported in Lagos in the past as well.

Incidents in the central and northern states of Nigeria have been far less common, but Kaduna State has seen an increase in incidents in recent years. Wealthy locals are the main target for criminal bandit groups who operate in the state, but the two incidents in January 2018 and the kidnap of two German archaeologists in Kaduna in February 2017, demonstrates that the threat does extend to international visitors.

Despite major targeted security operations last year, the authorities have failed to stem the flow of kidnap incidents in the state. The Abuja-Kaduna highway remains particularly vulnerable to incidents and saw several kidnaps throughout 2017.

For more information or advice on how your organisation can safely operate in Kaduna (Nigeria), email

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