Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has downplayed the cases of kidnapping in Nigeria, saying they were sometimes exaggerated for political effect.
Mr Osinbajo was addressing Nigerians based in New York on Monday when he was confronted with questions about kidnapping, which is a major part of Nigeria’s worsening insecurity.
“With respect to general kidnapping which we have seen in parts of the country, again, this is not entirely new. In fact, some of the kidnapping stories you read or listen to are simply not true anywhere, some are fuelled by politics,” Mr Osinbajo was reported as saying by the state-run News Agency of Nigeria.
“There are cases of kidnapping, no question at all about that, but some of the more dramatic stories that you hear are simply not true.
“Every report of kidnapping we receive, we try to verify, and at the end of the day you find out that people just tell all sorts of stories,” the vice-president said.
He added that the government has been working on a sustainable solution to the crisis, suggesting it was not enough to cause a panic amongst Nigerians in the Diaspora.
The comments came days after Western foreign missions in Nigeria issued travel advisories to their citizens, warning them to avoid a large section of the country for fear of kidnapping and other dire security threats.
Thousands of Nigerians are kidnapped yearly, and the menace had worsened within the last four years of the Buhari administration. This year, victims have included the chairman of the Universal Basic Education (UBEC), university dons and, only last week, a son of the country’s most-recent health minister.
Although victims are typically released after a ransom has been paid, it is not uncommon for people to die in their abductors’ den.
While the police have suspected possible false alarms about kidnapping, they have been uncommon compared to the actual number of kidnap incidents.