an assessment of the effectiveness of newspaper coverage of kidnapping in nigeria comparative study of punch and daily vanguard



1.1       Background of the Study

Civil unrest, terror threats, endemic corruption and ongoing abductions of Nigerians,  including the well-publicised kidnapping of school-girls by terrorist group Boko  Haram, underscore the continuing challenges of combating modern slavery in Nigeria. Modern slavery takes place within the context of  human trafficking and, sometimes begins with kidnapping. Yet, kidnapping is not a new phenomenon. Religious parables found in the Holy Bible and the Holy Qur’an about the sly abduction of Prophet Joseph (may peace be unto him) are indications that  kidnapping is as old as human history. However, Tzanelli (2006,p.128) mentioned that the  modern usage of the term ‘kidnapping’ dates back to 17th-century Britain where infants  (‘kid’) of rich families have been ‘napped’ (caught in the sleep) for ransom.

The trend is on the increase all over the world, because the Global Slavery Index (2014)  reported that throughout 2014, men, women and children continue to be kidnapped in  village raids and held as slaves by militias in eastern DRC (Democratic Republic of  Congo). In April and May 2014, 267 women and girls suffered sexual violence by  armed groups. In Nigeria, also, kidnapping is ongoing since the early 1990s (Hazen & Horner 2007). Tzanelli (2006,p.128) Kidnappings continue to contribute to a climate of insecurity in the  South East, the Niger Delta and the South-western region. Hostages have most recently also been taken in the states of Northern Nigeria. Between 2008 and 2010, the Nigeria Police Force recorded 887 cases across the country (Action on Armed Violence, 2013).

Kidnapping is taking place everywhere in Nigeria; it is a national problem that has eaten so deep into the fabric of the country but it takes place more in the moment of terrorism, insurgency and other forms of political violence. The kidnapping of 250 girls in a girls’ secondary school in Chibok, Borno State in 2014 and many more by Boko Haram represent the growing incidence of the kidnapping in Nigeria (Dodo, 2010).

Hazen and Horner (2007,p.65) reported that some groups in the Niger Delta have used the  kidnapping of international oil workers to raise international attention regarding the  plight of those living in the Delta, the environmental damage caused by oil spills and  the oil industry, and the demand for more local ownership of the extraction of natural  resources. The use of this tactic has not been entirely political in nature, as there are reports of significant ransom payments, which have then been used to fund the activities of these groups further. In fact, the tactic has proven so lucrative that a number of criminal groups appear to have taken on the task in order simply to make money. Apart from generating money, kidnapping has other serious consequences on the victims and their relatives, as well as the State at large. This requires a systematic examination of the problem in order to identify its underlying factors and its devastating consequences for policy recommendations for tackling the problem in Nigeria and beyond. There are other studies previously conducted on the kidnapping phenomenon. Freeman

(2016,p.8)  studied the incident of kidnapping at the international level but she confined it to child abduction, though she viewed it from the global perspective. File-Muriel (2013.p.16) also investigated the problem of kidnapping but set focused mainly on political kidnapping. A closer study was conducted by Uzorma and Nwanegbo-Ben (2014,p.66) on the subject of kidnapping and hostage-taking in the South-eastern Nigeria. Their study narrowed it the Southern Nigeria, where the causal factors might be limited to economic while the dominant factor for kidnapping in the South-south is environmental struggle, and in the Northwestern and Northeastern parts could be poverty and terrorism, respectively.

However, Kidnapping is a dreadful challenge that disrupts the tranquility and harmonious consolation of the country. Suffice to say, this study discovered that kidnapping has spread to the nukes and crannies of Nigeria as a result of poverty, unemployment, idleness, frustration and desolation among the youths which enthuse frustrated member to gang up in order to carry out brutality and criminality. In the view of this, Dodo, (2010,p.14). concludes that unemployment has been a major problem in most countries in the world. Nigeria, as a developing country is witnessing high rate of youth unemployment which has become one of the major threats to its national security.

It is imperative to note that youths are the potential leaders of any given country in the world because the youths constitute a formidable force and if their energies are properly channeled, there will be immense growth and development in that country but if their energies are dissipated on activities that are detrimental to National development such country experience myriads of problems such as unemployment, poverty, bad governance, religious violence, terrorism, cultism, militancy and kidnapping (Tzanelli, 2006).

In the same vein, Ibrahim, (2016) opines that, the parental neglect, lack of proper counseling, poor skill acquisition and drop-out of school syndrome by youths have led many youths to migrate from rural areas to cities to meander around major roads where they have been seduced with cash benefit and conscripted into various types of gangs or secret cults where they have been trained as ethnic militia to unleash terror on other innocent people of their sponsors in the society.

1.2    Statement of the Problem

Security of lives and property is one of the issues that attracts the attention of both the masses and government of a given society indeed, any breach of security whether in the form of kidnapping, abduction, bomb explosion and so on, which could result in physical injury against a victim, destruction of properties or loss of human lives is usually least appreciated by most peace loving individuals, groups and governments alike. Yet, it appears that a breach of security in Nigeria particularly kidnapping, is becoming more rampant than ever before in recent years.
One would reason that the mass media which has a social responsibility to provide the public with adequate information about certain incidents in the society, could have paid greater attention to issues bordering on kidnapping and inform the public accordingly.  While the broadcast media may not have assigned more air-time to such issues because of too many other programmes, it is assumed that magazine reports on those issues may not have been adequately given the periodic nature of magazine.  It therefore becomes pertinent to ask the basic question: to what extend did Nigerian newspapers report kidnapping in the country.

1.3                      Objectives of the Study

The objective of this study is therefore stated as follows:

i.            To investigate the causes of kidnapping in Nigeria

ii.            To determine the frequency with which kidnapping is covered in the selected Nigerian newspapers.

iii.            To determine the prominence given to the reporting of kidnapping in the selected Nigerian Newspapers.

iv.            To determine the depth of coverage given to kidnapping in the selected Nigerian Newspapers.

v.            To determine the direction of reportage of kidnapping stories in Nigerian Newspapers, the Punch and the Guardian.

1.4    Research Questions

In this study, an attempt will be sufficiently made to answer the following questions.

i.            What are the causes of kidnapping in Nigeria?

i.            What is the covered in the selected Nigerian Newspapers?

ii.            What is the prominence given to the reporting of kidnapping in the selected Nigerian Newspapers?

iii.            What is the depth of coverage given to kidnapping in the selected Nigerian Newspapers?

iv.            What is the direction of reportage of kidnapping stories in Nigerian newspapers, The Punch and the Guardian?

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