1.1 Background of the study
Nigerian nation has witnessed kidnapping phenomenon and its rate is increasingly alarming. Kidnapping and hostage taking in Nigeria has turned into a social problem which is affecting virtually every member of the Nigerian society in one way or the other. According to Uzorma and Nwanego (2014), kidnapping and hostage taking is among the terrorizing crimes in Nigeria which is mostly common in the southern part of the country (South-South, South-East and South-West). Practically, the duo entails abduction. Thus, it occurs when a person is abducted and taken from one place to another against their will, or a situation in which a person is confined to a controlled space without the confinement being from a legal authority. Consequently, when the transportation or confinement of the person is done for an unlawful purpose, such as for ransom or for the purpose of committing another crime, the act becomes criminal (Uzorma & Nwanegbo, 2014). Asuquo (2009) noted that the term “kidnapping” is difficult to define with precision, because it varies from State to State and jurisdiction to jurisdiction. It is the forceful seizure, taking away and unlawful detention of a person against his/her will. It is a common law offence and the key part is that, it is an unwanted act on the part of the victim. It is a restriction of someone else’s liberty which violates the provision of freedom of movement as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, where every other law takes its cue from.
Historically, Turner (2008) opined that the phenomenon of kidnapping and hostage taking began in the Niger Delta region as a freedom fight by militants protesting the degradation of their environment by oil industrial activities. Demola (2011) argued that it soon turned into a money making avenue through kidnapping of expatriate oil workers for huge ransoms. Since then kidnapping has become a daily occurrence and it has spread throughout the South-South states of Edo, Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom and the South-East States of Abia, Imo, Ebonyi, Enugu and Anambra. The South-West has not been left out. Kidnapping is also common in Lagos and other Western States. Many Youths have taken to the business of kidnapping with some godfathers working behind the scene. Currently, the targets are no longer oil workers or foreigners alone; every Nigerian is now a target. In fact, the safety of persons in Nigeria and their property cannot be guaranteed owing to the near daily incidents of kidnapping.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Kidnapping and hostage taking has plagued the socio-economic development of southern Nigeria and has had spill-over effect on some jobless youths and graduates who see kidnapping and hostage taking as a lucrative alternative means of making money, acquiring economic power and getting social recognition. This has had adverse effect on the socioeconomic development of the southern Nigeria. The social life of people has been affected and there is mistrust among people due to incidence of kidnapping and also the image of the country in the global scene has been shattered as a result of this.
Inyang and Ubong (2013) classified the socio--economic effects of kidnapping as direct and indirect costs. Direct Cost of Kidnapping involves the economic value that individuals and government may lose to kidnappers, much money has been paid as ransom. The large sum of money spent as ransom payment could affect the state economy drastically. Many people kidnapped paid a lot of money as ransom. This situation affects both state and household economy. Some people usually go as far as borrowing to bail their relatives out from the hands of hoodlums. Inyang and Ubong (2013) pointed out that when an indivual is kidnapped, mthe implication is always felt particularly within the family, whereby members of such families will have to feed themselves and adjust to their normal daily activities, until they secure the release of the victim. If the victim is a businessman or woman the business will suffer, if he is a civil servant or an artisan, his place of work will be affected adversely. In both cases there is going to be some setback. More, so, victims of kidnapping also suffer indirect cost from the incidents. Some of the victims are killed in the process of kidnapping, some sustain various levels of injuries like bullet wounds which may deform them forever. while many victims suffer various degrees of assault, abuse and torture in the hands of the kidnappers. Rape and severe traumatic pains from their experiences in the hands of the kidnappers. Although several studies has been condcuted on the effect of kidnapping on national security only few has been directed towards socioeconomic impact of this heinous act. Therefore it is against this backdrop that this study seeks to examine the implication of kidnapping on socioeconomic development of Nigeria.