A ghastly example of the state of insecurity Mass murder in Anambra state
Insecurity reducing Nigeria to a failing state Abdulfatai Ayobami Ibrahim / 13 hours ago Punch Editorial Board Nigeria places a very low premium on human life and safety. This is why crime proliferates in every nook and cranny of the country. This chronic nightmare is graphically illustrated by unremitting kidnapping, armed robbery, ritual killings, smuggling, street gang (or cult-related) violence, herdsmen killings, Islamist terrorism and militancy.
The Federal Government should be concerned about its loss of the power of coercion to non-state actors and quickly roll out strategies to change the status quo. Indeed, there is real fear of danger across the board, regardless of the ad hoc arrangements citizens make to protect themselves.
All the police and the government offer the public are lame excuses. And, viewed from Section 14 (2b) of the 1999 Constitution, which says: “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government,” the pervasive security breaches expose Nigeria as a failing state.
The prevailing situation is a throwback to Thomas Hobbes’ state of nature, aptly described as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” Even the well-heeled, who are somehow protected by a battery of police details, still feel insecure. One of them, Olufunke Kolawole, a permanent secretary in Osun State, was abducted by armed robbers on the Okene-Abuja Expressway in July and butchered. Her driver escaped with serious injuries. Because of government’s insensitivity to the high rate of crime, travellers on the expressways like Benin-Sagamu and Akure-Ilesa, are in a permanent state of fear. The Kaduna-Abuja Expressway, a major link between the North-West and the Federal Capital Territory, is a den of bandits in spite of the heavy deployment of police officers.
In June, bandits abducted 20 persons in one operation. Also, robbers raided a bank in Owerri, Imo State in February and killed police officers. In June, Osogbo, Osun State, witnessed a daylight bank robbery in which three police officers died. All the police do is celebrate the occasional arrests they make. Such instances include the parade of 32 kidnappers arrested on the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway in July; and the March killing of Henry “Vampire” Chibueze, a notorious kidnapper whose accomplices executed his rescue last January on the premises of a High Court in Owerri, Imo State, where he was being tried for criminal offences.
The Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector-General of Police also made a show of the arrest of Chukwudumeje “Evans” Onwuamadike in June. Evans, a serial kidnapper and armed robber, carried out major operations for years in Lagos, Anambra, Abia and Enugu states. But these intermittent “victories” are pyrrhic. They delude the police and government into believing that crime is under control. No. Six pupils of the Lagos State Model College, Epe, spent 63 days in kidnappers’ den before their release on July 29. Badoo, a cult of ritual killers that specialises in wiping out entire families, has massacred more than 26 persons in Ikorodu, Lagos in the past year, according to estimates by this newspaper. Ritual killers butchered a pensioner, Adetutu Ajayi, 73, in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, on Tuesday. A monarch in Ogun State,
Patrick Fasinu, was hacked to death a few metres to his house in Owo on July 26. These breaches pale in comparison to herdsmen bloody attacks and the Boko Haram terror campaign. The herdsmen, on the pretext of seeking fodder for their livestock and protecting them against rustling, perpetrate heinous killings in the country. In its 2015 report, Australian think tank, the Institute for Economics and Peace, said Fulani herdsmen “are the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world.” It is disturbing that the Nigerian state has yet to curb their gruesome appetite for shedding blood. Communal clashes continue to claim lives in thousands.
On its part, Boko Haram, which launched its brutal campaign in 2009, has slaughtered about 100,000 Nigerians, according to Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State. Last week, the insurgents, who abducted 276 Chibok schoolgirls in April 2014, wasted 48 lives – including 18 soldiers – in an ambush of a Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation crude oil exploration team to the Lake Chad Basin in Borno. Some members of that expedition are still in captivity.
The underwhelming performance of the police is traceable to their out-dated operations. In the United Kingdom, America, Australia and Europe, the police drive their operations through intelligence. In the UK, automated surveillance is the name of the game.
There are 5.9 million CCTV cameras deployed in surveillance activities. In the aftermath of the August 2011 London riots, police analysed 200,000 CCTV images to identify the suspects. In Nigeria, police operations are mired in archaic mumbo-jumbo. Criminals are often a step ahead of police because the security agents lack the standard equipment like forensic laboratories, digitalised crime database and motorised patrols.
The defence of Ibrahim Idris, the Inspector General of Police, that the police need 155,000 new recruits to tame crime, is a red herring. The major problem is inefficient deployment of available manpower. Out of the current police strength of 298,735, over 100,000 or a third is deployed to guard a few privileged individuals and organisations.
That is why many villages, communities and roads do not have police presence; therefore, crime thrives. Idris does not require a constitution amendment to perform the simple administrative procedure of withdrawing police officers wrongly attached to individuals. Private persons who feel the need should hire private security, while the number of serving and former public officers given personal police guards should be drastically pruned.
To bring crime under control, security agencies should mop up the arms in wrong hands. Crime suspects should be prosecuted quickly. More importantly, Nigeria cannot run away from state police. The current system is an anomaly in federalism. This will allow states and communities to build up their own security capacity to control crime.