CBN raises alarm over kidnap threat, cautions employees

By Emeka Nze

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has warned its employees to take extra precautions against kidnappings because of deteriorating security situation in the country.

Staff should “take note of the elevated security alert condition around the country,” the Central Bank of Nigeria said in a memorandum to employees seen by Bloomberg and verified by one of its officials. Intelligence gathered by the organization’s Security Service Department shows criminals plan to “infiltrate” the capital, Abuja, and other major cities to abduct people “for ransom or as recruits for terrorism,” it said in document circulated April 28.

Security forces in Africa’s most-populous country are struggling to contain deadly violence being perpetrated against the population on numerous fronts. The situation is exacerbating challenges for the continent’s biggest economy, with food inflation at the highest level in 15 years and unemployment surging to 33%.

The military has been at war with jihadists in northeast Nigeria for more than a decade in a conflict that has left thousands of people dead and millions displaced. The government is also facing a spate of mass kidnappings from boarding schools in the north and escalating attacks on police facilities in the southeast, which the authorities blame on separatists. There have also been lethal clashes between cattle herders and crop growers in the central region.

While urban areas have been largely spared the increased insecurity, central bank employees should “retire home immediately after office hours” and “limit all social engagements to those that are absolutely necessary,” it said.