Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I recently discovered that the Nigeria Police Force released a list of states with the highest rates of armed robbery in the country. As I was born and raised in Lagos, I quickly sought out the state of my birth. It was on the list. So was the state from which my mother's family is from - Rivers state. Luckily for me, my father's state, Ondo State, was nowhere on the list but a majority of the states in the ranking were southern states. Taking a closer look at the list gave me quite a bit to think about regarding criminality in Nigeria and certain related issues.

The list is as follows:

  1. Lagos
  2. Ogun
  3. Abia 
  4. Akwa Ibom 
  5. Oyo
  6. Gombe
  7. Katsina
  8. Kano
  9. Edo
  10. Rivers
  11. Anambra 
Apparently, Lagos and Ogun state surpassed the previous year's leaders in robberies, Abia and Akwa Ibom state. Police in Ogun state only arrested 5 robbery suspects in the months September and October. There were 1,262 incidents in Lagos. That despite the fact that Abia state experienced an extended period of lawlessness in 2010 which included a high rate of kidnappings. Lagos also led the country in the number of home invasions and the NPF reported that 2,567 light weapons entered the state illegally over the course of the year. Frankly, Lagos's position on the list is not shocking being that it is the most populated Nigerian city and thus bound to have a larger percentage of incidents whatever they may be.

It is however surprising that three sharia states are on the list. Gombe, Katsina and Kano state enacted sharia law many years ago. Like most other northern states, it was believed that sharia law, with its strict punishments, would act as a deterrent to criminals. However, many sharia states exhibit the same level of corruption and problems, if not more, than before the implementation of sharia. It must also be noted that Kano's presence on the list is likely equitable to Lagos in that Kano is the most populous state in northern Nigeria and therefore, a magnet for all kinds. Still, some could argue that the presence of sharia law resulted in  only 3 of 12 sharia states making it unto the list.

With the release of this list, I wonder what, if any plans, the NPF has to contain incidents of crime across the country. I ask this question because every time there is a major incident, 'security forces' and not necessarily the police, are sent to handle it. This reality spans the country from Jos, Niger Delta violence, Boko Haram unrest in the north, kidnappings in the east and other problems. These examples reinforce the belief that the police are typically too busy serving their own self interests than serving that of citizens. Nonetheless, I hope that this information will be used by the police to effectuate smarter ways of curbing crimes which foster domestic instability and insecurity.

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