Insurance firms have paid about  $7.8million (about N1.22billion) as kidnap and ransom claims on 730 reported cases  in the last four years, Head, Strategy, Brand & Corporate Communications, AIICO Insurance Plc, Olurotimi Aleshinloye, has said.

He told The Nation on the sidelines of the  New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) Business Group, held at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI)  over the weekend  that there have been 164 recorded cases of kidnap since the beginning of the year.

He said, according to the American International Group (AIG), a global insurance group in the United States, contemporary kidnapping-and–ransom industry emerged in the late 1970s in response to rampant kidnapping in Columbia and Latin America.

The AIG report said political and economic developments have started redrawing the ransom  trade, especially in Nigeria where it has become very lucrative and attractive, but that with the  government responding with tougher measures, such as compulsory registration of subscriber identity module (SIM) cards which makes it easier to track ‘criminals’ phone calls, the situation is expected to be reversed.

On the ransom payments, former Inspector-General of Police, Mike Okiro, estimated that  the total ransom paid in Nigeria between 2006 and 2008 exceeded $100million as the criminal gangs became more daring as the days went by and became ambitious.

TheNation

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