March 26, 2013 / 8:59 PM / 5 years ago

Nigerian police say British businessman kidnapped in Lagos

LAGOS (Reuters) - A British businessman has been abducted from an upmarket district of Lagos, Nigerian police said on Tuesday, a rare case of an expatriate being taken hostage in Nigeria’s main commercial city.

Kidnapping of expatriates by armed gangs seeking ransom money has been rife over the years in Nigeria’s oil producing southeast, but in Lagos victims have usually been locals.

Police spokesman Frank Mba said reports indicated the man was abducted at about 11 p.m. on Saturday night while on his way home from a nightclub in the high-end residential and business neighbourhood of Victoria Island.

“I think they trailed him back to his house and picked him up,” he said. “We are doing everything operationally possible to solve this crime.”

A spokesman for the British High Commission confirmed an expatriate worker had been kidnapped, but declined to give his nationality or any further details.

A security source, who could not be named, said he was an oil worker.

Nigeria is one of the worst countries in the world for kidnappings, a lucrative criminal enterprise worth millions of dollars a year. Abductions are most rife in the oil states, but sometimes happen in Lagos and the southwest too.

“Lagos has never had a reputation for kidnapping and we want that to remain as it is,” said Mba.

In the north, kidnappings of foreigners for ideological motives by Islamist groups have taken a more deadly turn.

Militant group Ansaru killed seven foreign hostages this month, authorities from some of the affected countries said.

Reporting by Tim Cocks; Editing by Sophie Hares

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