Nigeria: New Thieves In Town


August 9, 2007: Police and military forces have been unable to halt the spread of kidnapping activity in the Niger Delta oil region. With security forces and civilian body guards tied up protecting officials and foreigners, the kidnappers have switched to grabbing family members (children, parents, and so on) of prominent Delta politicians. The ransoms aren't as large, but the money is still good by Nigerian standards.

The navy is spread so thin that it cannot protect commercial traffic, particularly ferries and regular passenger runs, from pirate attacks. The criminal gangs have been doing so well that they have taken to fighting each other over territory. In the past week, at least a dozen people were shot dead in Delta cities, as gangs fought each other in the streets. The government is barely in control in the Delta, and a coalition of gangs is offering the government a deal to ease up attacks on oil production, in return for a cut of the oil profits. In theory, these diverted oil profits would go to "the people," but the gangsters would grab most of it, emulating the gangsters that have long been passing themselves off as politicians and elected representatives of "the people."

The government issued a statement in many areas of the country, urging people not to panic if they saw troops movements in the next few months. This is not a coup or some counter-terror movement, but merely the movement of troops in support of rotating peacekeepers in Liberia and Sudan (Darfur).

Pressure from the newly elected president, and the media, has forced many prominent politicians to reveal their wealth. Most are millionaires, who claim they either inherited their millions, or had a few very successful years in private business. Most Nigerians recognize the money as stolen from the government.


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