Kiwi kidnapped in Nigeria

  • 23/06/2016
Nigerian police (Reuters file)
Nigerian police (Reuters file)

A New Zealander is among a group of workers with an Australian mining company who have been kidnapped in Nigeria.

They were attacked on the outskirts of the city of Calabar at about 5:30am on Wednesday local time (4:30pm NZT), Nigerian police said.

"New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade can confirm a New Zealand citizen is involved. The ministry is in contact with the next of kin," says a Ministry spokesperson.

"The ministry continues to seek further information on the situation and is also in contact with Australian authorities and the mining company.

"Given the sensitive nature of the situation, the ministry will not be commenting further."

A Nigerian driver was shot dead, while seven in total were kidnapped, including a South African and two Nigerians.

Another Australian managed to flee the attackers.

The men worked for Perth-based mining company Macmahon Holdings, which mines material for processing at Lafarge Africa's UniCems cement plant at Mfamosing, in Nigeria's southeast.

Eyewitness Akan Akpan said the kidnappers had fled with the seven men in a boat.

"These kidnappers came out from the bridge, shot the driver of the vehicle and took the victims away through the river," he told Punch.

Macmahon says it's supporting the men's families.

"We are working to ensure the safe return of all the men involved and are in communication with their families," Macmahon said in a statement.

The cement factory is in the state of Cross River, an Westerners have been warned not to visit because of the high risk of kidnapping, robbery and other armed attacks.

Twenty five percent of kidnappings around the world happened in Nigeria in 2015.

Security expert Justin Bowden, whose firm Beltin Group advises companies operating in risky areas, said Nigeria has significant issues with civil unrest, organised crime gangs, guerilla fighting, smuggling, the availability of firearms, and drugs.

"In this particular case it will be interesting to see if (the motive for the kidnapping is) purely financial and if it's a short-term hostage taking to get a quick return," he told AAP.