Opinion | Nigeria’s school kidnapping crisis is even worse than you think

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What is behind the rise of Nigeria’s kidnapping industry? With culprits almost never arrested and prosecuted, it has dawned on criminals that crime pays, and children’s innate defenselessness and the presence of public schools in old, insecure buildings on the outskirts of towns leaves them exposed. While holding poor schoolchildren for ransom seems counterintuitive, gangs have realized that it puts ruling politicians under pressure, enabling culprits to cash out big from government payments. Furthermore, Islamist militants’ recent inroad into the northwest and north-central of the country, and Boko Haram’s claimed involvement in the December kidnapping, mean there could be ideological motivations.



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