Recently there has been an upsurge in bank robberies in and around the country. When combined with banditry that is ravaging cross sections of Nigeria, the anxiety generated in the process becomes something to worry about. Security experts adduce that these spates of criminality offer a source of refinancing of the illicit acts that are making the efforts to curb them seemingly intractable.
We recall that three commercial banks’ bullion vans were attacked recently in Ondo state alone in less than one month.
Also, four policemen and two civilians were killed by bandits who attacked banks’ bullion vans, and banks in the state.
Furthermore, we recall that in January last year the police in Ondo State confirmed an armed robbery attack at a bank in Ile -Oluji, headquarters of Ile Oluji/Oke Igbo Local Government Area of Ondo State. It was reported that four persons, two policemen and two others were killed in the robbery attack.
Not too long ago, two persons were feared dead as suspected armed robbers attacked two banks in Iree, Boripe Local Government Area of Osun.
Similarly, last week armed robbers attacked a commercial bank in Otun Ekiti in Moba local government area. The Police confirmed that an officer was killed in the robbery attack.
In the same Ekiti State, last year, robbers, numbering 10 and heavily armed, had stormed the Iyin-Ekiti branch of a bank carting away an undisclosed amount of cash during the operation.
In a similar operation sometime last, nine persons, including eight policemen and one civilian, were feared killed in Isanlu, Kogi State when a gang of armed robbers launched an attack on a branch of a first-generation bank in the town.
In the considered opinion of this newspaper, these robberies in parts of the country are, indeed, worrisome and deserve urgent attention from the security agencies.
More disturbing, in our view, is the realization that like banditry, these robberies are planned by powerful interests with insider information on the workings of the target financial institutions.
Because of the upsurge of killings, kidnappings and terrorism itself which are considered much more serious security breaches in the country, bank robberies have gone under the radar and have not been getting the desired attention as unacceptable as they really are.
In our considered opinion, the first step in checking this unwholesome development is for the banks to be a lot more circumspect in their recruitment processes and procedures. Bearing in mind the sensitive nature of the banks as a critical arm of the financial sector as well as its relevance to economic activities in the country, the banks’ management must constantly conduct serious background checks on all their employees.
This also brings to the fore the ill-advisability of contract jobs in banks and the out-sourcing of the recruitment methods. Not to mention the peanuts the staff recruited under such arrangement earn
Regrettably, in our view, in the few instances where the criminals were arrested, they were set free after some days in detention as some of them double as political thugs very much in demand by their paymasters.
The situation is not helped by the paucity of resources to work with by the security agencies who already have their hands full, human and material stretched so thin to breaking point.
With all the six geo-political zones engrossed in one form of security challenge or the other, it becomes easily explicable why these criminals are almost getting away with murder.
While Boko Haram is still wreaking havoc in the northeast, bandits are on a kidnapping and killing spree in the northwest and north-central. Also in these areas, farmers and herders clash have claimed a lot of lives while unknown gunmen are the order of the day in the southeast and parts of South south.
This, again, reinforces the argument in favour of state police as many Nigerians aver that the police as presently constituted cannot tackle the various security challenges.
Indeed, with the right intelligence, most bank robberies can be thwarted. The police need to step up their local intelligence. We can’t stress enough the need to increase the response rate to robberies and other crimes by the police.
Needless to say, the police need to invest more in technology by increasing surveillance around hot spots. It is from this perspective that we call on the governors to wake up to the reality of growing cases of robberies and fashion out how to collaborate with necessary stakeholders to arrest the situation.
Curiously, the regional security outfits set up to address these issues and others like them that threaten public peace and order are not doing the job for which they were created satisfactorily, in our opinion. They are political creations and seem to have been subsumed into the quagmire of politics and politicking.
Be that as it may, the orthodox security apparatuses and their paramilitary counterparts have every reason to leave up the expectation of the people flustered on all sides by threats to their wellbeing.