“Extreme poverty anywhere is a threat to human security everywhere.” According to Kofi Annan, the Seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations. Ian Squire, an optician from Surrey is one of the few that believes that talking about the fight against poverty is not enough but actually doing something about it, he set up a Christian charity organisation called mission for vision in 2003, helping people in the oil-rich Delta region in Nigeria in the hope to reduce the effect of poverty in people’s lives but unfortunately, he died in the hands of the same people he was helping. Ian was kidnaped along side with three other charity workers in the early hours of October 13 by militants armed with AK-47s and hidden away in shacks on stilts in a remote swamp for three weeks.
Two of the survivors David and Shirley Donovan from Ballymoney in Northern Ireland who feared they would be killed next were forced to spend the rest of the day in a shack with Mr Squire’s body said their spirits were initially lifted when the kidnappers returned Mr Squire’s guitar and he began playing ‘Amazing Grace’. But moments after he finished he stood up and was hit by a hail of gunfire from their captors who were high on cocaine and cannabis killing him instantly.
The remaining captives were freed after the kidnappers told them a ransom had been paid with the help of the British high commission and the Nigerian government.
8 Useful tips to avoid being a victim of kidnapping in Nigeria.
Kidnaping in Nigeria is becoming a major concern for tourists or holiday makers choosing the oil rich country as their destination but haven’t said that, you are guaranteed to have fun during your stay in the country. To help you stay safe and prevent you from becoming a victim of kidnapping crime based on people stories and government agencies advice. Following this tips will assist you greatly.
1. Be Confident;
Travellers in new surroundings who aren’t confident or looking lost attracts attentions. The more confident you are, the more natural you look but If you look like a victim people will treat you like one.
2. Learn the Language;
it will be helpful to learn a few phrases in the native tongue of any community you are staying. This is useful when dealing with locals, hotel staff, taxis or Police. It will go a long way in all cultures to learn few words in their languages. A simple Thank you’ or ‘Hello’ may make people think you’re not a naive stranger but instead more worldly, street wise and confident.
3. Know your local surroundings;
There are important places you need to know like the nearest hospital, Police/military checkpoint, ATM and know where the major transport links are located. Anything which may assist you if you were to get into trouble and need to move quickly. This also covers where you are staying, be it a hotel, or any other dwelling and ensure you know your escape routes. Mentally have a plan on how to exit the building in case of an emergency, try not to stand out with your clothing, blend in at all times to your local surroundings and keep to busy areas as much as you can.
Keep people updated on your location and routes, it is vital you keep someone you trust updated on where you are at all times. I use WhatsApp as I find it easy and quick to communicate, as well as being good for sending my location and pictures. This is a brilliant way to stay connected if you have signal. This is vital if you were to get missing as it gives the security forces your last time online and a location to start a search from. Another good idea is to get a selfie with the people you’re with, be it a taxi driver, soldier or anyone around most especially landmarks. Everyone loves their picture being taken so take a selfie and send it to a friend so they have a picture of who you’re with. If you have made plans to be picked up at the airport in a high risk country, request the drivers name, vehicle make, model and a picture of your driver. Never get into a vehicle with someone without seeing formal identification. Airports are busy places and there are many people fighting for your custom. Don’t be lured into a false sense of security by believing you’re safe and taking a taxi from the airport in a high risk zone.
5. Don’t trust anyone you don’t know;
The majority of people you meet do not wish you any harm but you can’t dismiss the fact that a small percentage may want to. Be aware of who you are with. They may not wish you any direct harm but they may be working for someone that does. Be wary of any new friends always be slightly on guard and have a plan if things were to turn nasty.
6. Stay alert;
It is impossible to stay alert 24/7. Never the less, you should be enjoying your time abroad so you don’t want to be on full alert all the time. Things that should be taken into consideration are, don’t drink alcohol in such excess that you are unaware of your surroundings. Never be persuaded to go with someone you don’t know and keep your WhatsApp updates going when possible. If you’re out drinking send information on which bar you’re in and who you are with in your updates. Be aware of what you eat and drink when you’re invited into someone’s home.
7. Don’t give out too much information;
Keep your plans to yourself. On your travels or in a bar in the hotel, people will be intrigued about who you are, where you’ve been, where you are planning on going and who do you work for. Limit the information you tell people. A harmless conversation about your plans may be over heard by someone who is taking an interest in you. Never disclose timings, routes or destinations to people outside your circle of trust.
8. Travel in groups
Have you ever heard that old saying? It’s especially true when traveling on holiday to places like Nigeria, although every town or city in every country has its problems but when you move around with a companion or within a group, you have someone to watch your back and it’s often very difficult for criminals to attack people in groups compared to being on your own.
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If you find this article useful please share with anyone you know travelling to any part of the world considered as high risk area for foreigners.