Since we entered the year 2010, the once-serene city of Cotonou has experienced not less than six cases of kidnapping of Nigerians with increasing number of armed robberies.
Curiously the majority of cases revolved around businessmen from one particular Nigerian community.
1. The first one involved a couple whose one and only child was kidnapped and thrown over the perimeter wall after the mother had been beaten to submission. Unfortunately for the criminals, their get-away motor-bike could not kick start, and they had to pull away as some panic-stricken crowd had started gathering apparently alerted by the alarm raised by the couple. The kidnappers are said to have left with about €4,000 (four thousand Euro) which the said victim threw to them over the fence as ransom to free his child.
2. The second incident involved a man whose wife was successfully kidnapped for a ransom demand of 5million francs CFA. She was later released but it is not clear whether the ransom was paid or not.
3. The third and most recent case happened at a shop located around the CABOMA area of the city centre, where, by broad daylight the company lost about 40million francs CFA to armed robbers. The robbers casually walked into the shop disguised as customers and were bargaining on the price of bales of second-hand clothing. When they had conveniently engaged the attention of the shop owners, one of them demanded that the cashier surrender the proceeds of their day’s sales amounting to forty million francs CFA. Upon her refusal, they hit her on the head with a bottle of sparkling wine and forced her to submission.
Interestingly, none of these cases was reported to the Police for ‘obvious reasons.’ And one is bent to believe that this is the reason for the perpetuation of the acts of kidnapping and armed robbery.
One close associate of one of the victims on claims of anonymity fingers 'tax evasion' as the reason why these very rich merchants do not want to report to the Police to avoid bringing the departments of Customs and Finance into crossfire.
It is difficult to say who the next victim will be. A stitch in time saves nine or ten