With the surge in crime and criminality, Nigerians are worried that life as they used to know it may soon become an unaffordable luxury. The country is particularly on edge regarding the frequency with which undesirable elements terrorise people. The increasing reports of armed robbery attacks focusing on banks in various parts of the country are benumbing. The citizens, ruffled and bewildered no longer know where to turn, as all seem to be living under the culture of fear and haplessness just as the security agencies appear not able to contain the menace.
The Offa bank robbery in Kwara State was recently in the news as dare-devil armed robbers attacked some banks killing, in the process, no fewer than 30 innocent Nigerians. Weeks later, another bank in Igara in Akoko Edo local government in Edo State was attacked, with the criminals carting away huge sums of money and many innocent people were also killed.
We also recall two high profile robbery attacks in Ikorodu that left Lagos State in perpetual morbid fear.
These attacks bear chilling resemblance to a similar raid on First Bank and Wema bank branches on Ijede Road, also in Ikorodu, led by a woman. They bore semblance to the robbery in Lekki area of Lagos sadly led by a woman as well. Lagos is not alone in this ugly development. Reports abound of criminal activities in other major towns across Nigeria, including highway robberies especially at night and wee hours of the day. This legion of robbery cases are sad reminders of the high level of insecurity in the country. As usual, whenever such incidents occur, the security agencies concerned always come out with promises to investigate the incidents and arrest the culprits. Often, that is never done and the matter is swept under the carpet. Whenever these incidents occur, the security agencies always come out with platitudes to douse the situation. They hardly ever succeed in bringing criminals to justice.
With security being at the forefront of Nigeria’s problems, an efficient cover ought to be provided and the personnel equipped with not only necessary communication gadgets and vehicles to accomplish their tasks but also intelligence gathering machinery as well as processes should be strengthened and intensified to make it more effective in the attempt to fight crime.
It needs to be pointed out that crime fighting is not a job for the security agencies alone. As the Police jingle claims, armed robbers are not spirits. They are, in most cases, residents in the same neighbourhood. Information important to efforts to fish them out will go a long way to check them before they cause harm on the people. Besides, the security operatives are obviously outnumbered and, often, not as well- equipped as the criminals they are expected to combat and overcome. In addition to the government recruiting more personnel and equipping them appropriately, the issue of morale must be urgently addressed. This newspaper is of the opinion that an ill-motivated security operative is as dangerous as the criminal he or she is fighting as the possibility of compromising them is high indeed.
But at the back of this incessant crime and criminality is the lack of good governance which seems to be fueling most of these anti-social behaviours in the society, coupled with mass poverty and the increasing sense of hopelessness caused by chronic unemployment. While not excusing armed robbery, government must address its root causes. The majority of Nigerians are youths who range from the uneducated, to the semi skilled and to the highly skilled. Most Nigerians want to work but there are no work, a situation that compels some of them to get involved in sheddy deals, while some others, sadly, take to robbery. The pervasive corruption in the society in which persons, especially those in politics and government, flaunt their ill-gotten wealth breeds a culture of acquisition and thievery. To fight armed robbery, government must create a just and egalitarian society in which hardworking individuals, as distinct from rogue elements, can lead fulfilled lives, free from criminality.We, therefore, urge religious bodies to continue the preaching of moral regeneration, while parents should steer their wards away from waywardness. In the same way, traditional rulers and other opinion leaders should join in the crusade to guarantee a culture of peace in the society. What this portend is that all and sundry be encouraged to assist in fighting crime by willingly providing information that could lead to criminals being apprehended and brought to justice. We cannot have good governance if the governed needlessly live in fear for their lives.