When Linda Peter last spoke to her daughter, the brief phone call left her relieved the teenager was alive but distraught because she could not pay any ransom demanded.
Peter’s 18-year-old daughter, Jennifer, was among 39 students abducted by gunmen on March 11 from a forestry college in the northwestern Nigerian state of Kaduna. The captors, who called from the teenager’s phone, threatened to kill the male captives and force females into marriage, but did not specify the ransom sum sought.
“The government is not doing anything to help these children,” said Peter, a widow and mother of five who sells vegetables for a living but has not worked since her daughter was taken. “We don’t have anything,” she said.
Kidnapping for ransom has become an industry in restive northern Nigerian states where over 700 people have been abducted at education institutions since December. President Muhammadu Buhari in February told state governments that “rewarding” such crimes with money and vehicles, could “boomerang disastrously”.