Spatial Analysis of Reported Kidnapping Events in Nigeria Using Moran’s I




Larsen, Aubrey

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Nigeria has long garnered international attention for the rate of kidnappings that occur within its borders. At the same time, Nigeria is one of the world’s largest oil producers, which results in billions of dollars in revenue for the country each year. Despite Nigeria’s vast oil wealth, its kidnapping rates are making some multinational companies question their activities in Nigeria and look instead to operating in safer countries. The Nigerian economy is dependent on its oil sales, and a drawback in multinational oil companies could devastate the national economy. While the oil extraction earns billions for the country annually, little of that money has trickled down to the local Nigerians. As a result, many hypothesize that this disparity in wealth motivated many of the known kidnapping events. Data for this thesis was acquired through the Armed Conflict and Location Event Data (ACLED) program. Kidnapping events were cataloged and analyzed using Global Moran’s I and Local Moran’s I in ArcGIS to determine the presence of significant spatial clusters, as well as the location of such clusters. In addition, an ordinal analysis of the data was conducted to identify the visual patterns of incidence of the three categories of kidnapping: economic, political, and ritual and religious. These three categories are identified as the motivators behind each kidnapping event. The strongest ordinal patterns are seen in northern Nigeria where ritual and religious kidnappings are more common ,and southern Nigeria, where economically-motivated kidnappings are the most prevalent. The three key elements of kidnapping quantitatively analyzed in this thesis are: ransoms, kidnapped foreigners, and fatalities. Each of these elements was analyzed to determine if there were spatial patterns related to the element. Global Moran’s I and Anselin’s Local Moran’s I identified several spatial patterns in the data. The most significant spatial clusters were seen with the clustering of kidnappings in southern Nigeria, where the majority of the oil extraction occurs. This region saw the most significant clusters of kidnapped foreigners, kidnappings for ransom, and total fatalities. The presence of foreigners and the requests for ransom are likely a manifestation of the economic disparity in the region. Also of interest was the high proportion of fatalities in northern Nigeria, though the data for that region is not as robust as the kidnapping event data for the rest of the country. Ritual and religious kidnapping, most frequently occurring in the north, is not motivated by economic or political desires, which may explain the higher rates of fatalities in that region. It is also important to note the limitations in the ACLED dataset. This dataset relies primarily on information reported in the media. As a result, data from recent years is likely more robust than the earlier years in the timeframe, such as 1987. Additionally, it is estimated that many of the local and small-scale kidnappings of Nigerians are not reported, because the stories are not as sensational as the kidnapping of a foreigner or the mass kidnapping of Nigerians. The dataset had glaring gaps of data in large cities in Nigeria, which also likely indicates that crime is underreported in those areas. Other sources of data could be used to bolster the ACLED data, or to compare the kidnapping data from various sources. Outside the span of the research timeframe, 1987-2013, kidnapping events in Nigeria have attracted even more international media attention. In April 2014, approximately 276 local schoolgirls were taken captive by Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria. In October 2014, an additional 60 women and girls were reported as kidnapped from two towns in northeastern Nigeria. Future opportunities for expanding this research could include focusing on kidnapping specifically conducted by Islamist groups and the targeting of females in kidnapping events.



Nigeria, Kidnapping, Hostage, Spatial analysis, Moran's I