Expats Kidnappings in Nigeria: 5 high-profile abductions of foreigners in 6 months

Expats Kidnappings in Nigeria: 5 high-profile abductions of foreigners in 6 monthsMaurizio Pallu

Criminal gangs have long been targeting foreigners to kidnap and hold for ransom.

German engineer, Michael Cremza, was kidnapped by unknown gunmen in Kano state on Monday, April 16, 2018.

The abductors killed a police sergeant who was protecting the engineer who is a staff of Dantata and Sawoe construction company.

Cremza's abduction is an unfortunate addition to the trend of criminal gangs kidnapping foreigners in Nigeria usually to use them to make ransom demands.

Here are some of the most high-profile abductions of foreigners in the country over the past six months:

1. 2 Canadians and 2 Americans

While traveling to Abuja from Kafanchan, Jema'a local government area of Kaduna state in January 2018, two Canadians and two Americans were abducted in Kagarko local government area of the state. Two police officers were killed in the course of the abduction.

The abducted foreigners were identified as Nate Vangeest, John Kirlin, Rachael Kelley and Dean Slocum.

According to an official police statement, "The kidnappers laid ambush for them and engaged the escorts in gun duel which led to the death of two policemen while the four foreigners were whisked to unknown destination."

Days later, the victims were rescued by police officers in an operation that also resulted in the arrest of two abductors.

A week later, the alleged mastermind of the abduction, Ya'u Ahmadu, also known as Dogo Russia, was arrested by operatives of the Inspector General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT) on Wednesday, January 25, 2018.

Spokesperson of the Kaduna State Police Command, Mukhtar Aliyu, said no ransom was paid to the kidnappers.

2. 4 British hostages

While working with a Christian medical charity providing free health treatment in the Burutu area of Delta state, four British citizens were kidnapped on October 13.

After nearly a month in captivity, one of the hostages, Ian Squire, was killed while the others namely Alanna Carson, David Donovan and Squire's wife, Shirley, were freed after negotiations with authorities.

All the freed hostages returned home immediately.

3. Maurizio Pallu

Just days before the British citizens were kidnapped in October 2017, an Italian priest of the Catholic Church, Maurizio Pallu, was abducted in broad daylight by armed men just outside of Benin City.


The 63-year-old priest was travelling to  Benin City for a church meeting in the company of four members of his community in Kaduna when they were attacked and robbed by armed men who abducted Pallu and two others: a young man employed by the parish and a female student, both Nigerians.

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At the time of his abduction, he had been stationed in Nigeria for three years.

He was set free six days after his abduction. After his release, the priest told the Italian website, Vatican Insider, that the abduction was his second time as he had also been kidnapped for a few hours in October 2016.

He also said he was unaware of any payment made to the attackers and believes that "God softened the hearts of my kidnappers."

4. Thomas Arnold and Hendrick Gideon

South Africans, Thomas Arnold and Hendrick Gideon, were working at a mining site in Maidaro village in Kaduna state when they were abducted on January 23, 2018.

The victims were moved to Birnin Gwari forest before they were rescued by the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) on January 27. Some suspects were arrested.

5. 4 Chinese nationals

Four Chinese citizens were kidnapped by a gang of sea pirates while travelling through Ayeton Creek from Lagos to Ogooluayo community, Ilaje local government of Ondo state, in December 2017.

The four victims were abducted on board a fishing trawler within the Lagos waters on December 14 and were later taken in a speedboat to Igbokoda in Ondo state.

In a joint routine patrol on the waterways, the victims were rescued by the officers and men of the 32 Artillery Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Akure and the Nigerian Naval Forward Operating Base, Igbokoda, who intercepted the pirates.

There was a gun battle between the suspects and security operatives but they eventually abandoned their boats and fled on foot through the creeks.

While one of the hostages sustained bullet wounds during the shootout, he was treated in a hospital.

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