Authorities in Nigeria announced they have arrested some suspects for their alleged involvement in a kidnap attempt on award-winning afrobeats musician Tiwa Savage. According to The Guardian, the arrests were confirmed on Saturday by a spokesperson for the West African nation’s Criminal Investigation Department.
The News Agency of Nigeria also reported that the news of the alleged kidnap attempt on the Eminado singer was circulated on social media on Friday. Reports stated that the alleged kidnap attempt was foiled by the police as well as the 43-year-old musician’s private security.
Tiwa Savage’s new domestic staff allegedly orchestrated the botched kidnapping. The workers, who were reportedly privy to crucial information about the singer, allegedly tailed her after she left her residence, and allegedly tipped other members of the kidnapping ring.
“Yes, we have some suspects, they are in our custody. They are about four,” the police spokesperson said.
Responding to the incident in an Instagram post on April 14, Tiwa Savage’s management team said there was a “major security breach” at the singer’s residence the day prior. “A number of suspects were caught and are currently being held under investigation at Alagbon Police Station, Ikoyi,” the statement added. “Ms. Savage and her family are safe and well.”
In recent years, the spate of kidnappings in Nigeria has been on the rise. This has largely been attributed to the country’s porous security architecture which has led to the rise of vigilante groups and insurgents. The effect of kidnapping on the social lives of Nigerians has been widely documented, but data is scanty on its economic impact, particularly ransom payment.
In 2021, BBC’s Focus on Africa program reported that the amount of money Nigeria has paid to kidnappers as ransom in the past 10 years is estimated at $18 billion. They also cited SBM Intelligence, which is involved in risk analysis. According to the Lagos-based organization, the reported figure may be an understatement as several ransoms paid to kidnappers are not reported in the country.
Ikemesit Effiong, who is the Head of Research at the company, said it derived the $18 million figure from media sources where a verifiable amount of money was published. He told Focus on Africa that the organization also has multiple researchers across the country who monitor the statistics.
These researchers noted that over 1000 people have been kidnapped in Nigeria over the last decade, including relatives of prominent Nigerian nationals, such as the World Trade Organization Director-General, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, whose parents were once kidnapped victims.
Effiong said in the past, kidnapped victims were people in the political or elite class who were capable of paying the ransom. However, this profile has changed to “everyday regular people.” He further described the development as a worrying trend; “Pretty much every Nigerian is a potential target,” he said, adding that the change in the profile of the kidnappers is about access.