Nigeria: Pirates Waiting To Get Paid


June 20, 2010: MEND kidnappers are demanding $1.5 million ransom for two officers that were taken from a Russian merchant ship last month. If the pirates get a ransom, this will set off a wave of kidnappings. Heretofore, the pirates merely robbed the ships (and crews). The kidnapping is a new, and much more lucrative,  angle. MEND is holding the two hostages in a remote mangrove swamp, and the military would have a hard time finding them. With so many MEND members disarmed (or less well armed) by the recent amnesty (which is also failing because of corrupt officials administering it), kidnapping for big ransoms seems like a splendid opportunity.  

The recent deaths in Jos, as police broke up demonstrations by motorcycle taxis drivers (angry that their machines were now banned), is yet another example of police misconduct that is a major source of unrest throughout the country. The police are generally seen as inept, corrupt and for sale (usually to wealthy politicians, who pay the cops to do whatever has to be done). The police regularly assault civilians, using extortion, rape and murder to "maintain order" and supplement their pay. Controlled by the central government, senior positions in the police are often sold to the highest bidder.

The fight against government corruption is being most effectively fought in foreign courts, where foreign lawyers and prosecutors go after stolen money and those who have helped try and hide and launder it. The foreign operatives are largely  incorruptible, while Nigerian officials can more easily be reached with bribes or threats.

June 11, 2010: Violence continues in the central Nigerian city of Jos, but this time it's about a ban on motorcycle taxis. Several clashes with police have left at least six dead.

June 10, 2010: The army and MEND rebels give differing reports of what happened during a recent gun battle near a oil pipeline facility in the Niger delta. MEND say they attacked the facility, killed six soldiers, and left. The army says a patrol drove off a group of MEND men who were trying to tap into the pipeline and steal oil. Some of the thieves were arrested. The army account sounds more plausible, as oil theft is far more common than attacks on guarded oil facilities. 





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