An objective study of the situation in Nigeria has already shown that only a few of the citizens are not victims of one ugly reality or another. The existing or even rising rates of violence, poverty and ignorance/illiteracy are consistently compelling more and more people to compromise their dignity and standards of living as a result of which the general atmosphere in the country has now become extremely tense.
In fact, majority of Nigerians are always desperately in search of succor mainly because they are victims of situations that cannot be harsher. The environment is so unsetting that people who ordinarily would have been calm, peaceful, confident, focused and forward-looking are now evidently unorganized, unstable, timid and hopeless and are therefore in need of quick rehabilitation through the provision of a well-coordinated support.
Obviously, the introduction and consistent implementation of Victims Support Programmes (VSP) are already an established tradition in a lot of countries. The human nature in which victims support as a strategy for the alleviation of the sufferings of persons is rooted necessary provides for the show of abundant mercy to those living in a state of degradation.
Therefore, the victims of the current various form of crises in Nigeria are certainly most deserving of such a support so that they can, at least, continue to exist as human beings. All those who have most painfully lost their wealth, health and even faith to either insurgency, kidnapping, banditry or any other form of violent crime and are consequently now in either Internally-Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps or under the care of some concerned relatives or even at the mercy of any kind of environment should be beneficiaries of one kind of support initiative or another.
While violence, albeit to varying degrees, is a familiar practice in almost all parts of the world, the effects of poverty and ignorance in the under-developed and developing countries are terribly crippling. It is clearly part of both the acknowledgement of the prevalence of crises which are, most often, intellectually defined as either sudden or gradual breakdown of established orders or the response to the victims pressing need for salvation and rescue that the implementation of support initiative have since become an entrenched culture.
It is for example, contained in the “Handbook on Justice for Victims”; a publication of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention which is also an outcome of several meetings of experts from more than forty countries as supported by both the Office for Victims of Crime under the United States Department of Justice and the Netherland’s Ministry of Justice that ‘’Crime takes an enormous physical, financial and emotional toll on its victims.” It is further mentioned in the publication that the General Assembly of the United Nations on 29th November, 1985 “adopted the Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power (General Assembly resolution 40/34, annex) based on the conviction that victims should be treated with compassion and respect for their dignity and that they are entitled to prompt redress for the harm that they have suffered, through access to the criminal justice system and services to assist their recovery.’’
On the vital issue of victims support, it is stressed that all such initiatives should be defined enough to serve as an effective instrument for the achievement of the desired results. An effective co-ordination between and among support providers at both governmental and non-governmental levels in order to ensure continuity of support for victims is one of the recommendations contained in the handbook.
There is also the argument that victims support can be meaningful and result-yielding only if all the necessary components of such an effort are in place. In addition to the delivery of essential services that will enable the victims to quickly regain consciousness and confidence, there is also the need to counsel them and advocate for the restoration of their rights and privileges as human beings and citizens of their respective countries.
Control of criminal activities is certainly one of the fundamental ways in which the confidence of victims can be restored and strengthened. Victims need to not only be assured of the reduction of crises or cessation of conflicts but should also be practically convinced that the relevant authorities and concerned groups are working hard in this direction, so that they can be confident enough to participate in all the processes for the mitigation of the effects of wars, conflicts civil strife, ignorance and poverty.
In clear terms, the contents of the ‘’Handbook on Justice for Victims” have brought out the inherent flaws in the approach of government and groups in Nigeria to the issue of support for victims of crimes. The apparent failure to record any reasonable success in the genuine rehabilitation of the various categories of victims is simply attributable to the poor conceptualization and implementation of support programmes.
Apart from the disturbing reluctance of the government to come up with comprehensive social and economic packages for victims into which domestic and foreign support providers could have keyed, there is also the escalation of violence which increasingly dashes the hope for a better future. It is the combination of the two frightening realities that have continued to re-enforce the belief that support for victims of crimes is not a priority in the country.
Even with the introduction of some relief packages by the various State Governments and more importantly the establishment, by the Federal Government, of the Victims Support Fund (VSF) as well as a special programme for the rehabilitation of the victims of Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East, the sufferings of the victims have only multiplied. What is particularly unfortunate is the fact that some of such initiatives have already been turned into conduct pipes through which public funds are siphoned by corrupt government officials and contractors.
The diversion of funds and other facilities meant for the rehabilitation of victims of crimes who are already a large population is definitely the clearest manifestation of callousness by the members of the ruling elite class and their collaborators. It is an attitude that, if not halted, can turn the country into an unbearable environment for almost everybody.
A society or country in which victims of violence are continuously produced and are left to their own devices will only live in permanent crises. As it is now, the neglect of the fast-growing number of victims of crimes is very speedily becoming the severest threat to the survival of Nigeria.