Nigeria: We Have Met The Enemy And They Are Us

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July 18, 2007: The growing kidnappings in the south has become another source of corruption. Some of the kidnappers are complaining that government officials, who usually negotiate the ransoms, are taking too large a cut for themselves, leaving the kidnappers with too little. There is even competition among government and military officials to become the negotiator, because of the easy money. Thus corruption even gets to rebels fighting to free their people from corrupt rule.

July 17, 2007: Five former governors have been jailed, and are being prosecuted for corruption. Several dozen lesser officials are also accused. The anti-corruption force is under great pressure from corrupt officials still in office (and thus immune from prosecution) to back off. So far, the prosecutions are moving forward.

July 16, 2007: AIDS is spreading rapidly through the armed forces. This is as a result of East African peacekeepers, infected with AIDs, serving with Nigerian troops, in Liberia. All the soldiers used the same prostitutes, and soon everyone had AIDS. Nigerian soldiers are dismayed at this aftereffect of peacekeeping duty, and blame their commanders for allowing it to happen. About four percent of Nigerian adults have AIDS, but the rate in the military is believed to be over ten percent. It's much worse, often over 50 percent, in other African armies. Only Uganda has managed to bring its military AIDS rate down below ten percent, and that involved more discipline among the troops than most African armies are capable of.

July 13, 2007: The latest three year old kidnap victim was released. A $390,000 ransom was demanded. The kidnappings are not slowing down, despite government efforts to stop it. Oil companies are hiring their own security, and offering bonuses to soldiers and police assigned to guard company facilities. If the security forces keep the kidnappers out, they get their bonus. Otherwise, the soldiers and cops will often run away if a kidnapping gang shows up.

July 11, 2007: For the fourth time in two months, kidnappers have grabbed a three year old child in the south. This time, it's the son of a local chief.

July 9, 2007: Kidnappers were repulsed by soldiers guarding an oil installation, with one killed and two arrested.

July 8, 2007: After four days, and a public uproar, kidnappers released a three year old British girl. The parents insisted that no ransom was paid, although money was sought. Meanwhile, two more oil installations were attacked, and two more foreigners (and two Nigerians) kidnapped.

 

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