The fear of being a victim of crime is far higher than the possibility of being a victim. People who are afraid of crime are virtually incapacitated.
It affects social relationships, economic activities, political stability and confidence, especially in the government and law enforcement agencies. â€” Etannibi Alemika, Professor of Criminology, University of Jos.
STATISTICS from a national criminal victimisation and safety survey presented last week showed that an overall national figure of 86.6 per cent of respondents expressed a â€œvery high degree of fearâ€.Â The survey conducted between 2007 and 2009 covered 10,228 respondents across the 36 states of Nigeria and Abuja.
CLEEN Foundation (formerly the Centre for Law Enforcement Education), worked with a field survey company and a data management company on the survey. It included questions on corruption.
Most troubled respondents reside in Gombe, Abuja, Plateau, Ebonyi, Ondo and Sokoto, according to the study. Theft (money, GSM handset, agricultural products, cars, etc), robbery, domestic violence, physical assault and burglary were found to be the most dominant forms of crime.
The â€œvery high degree of fearâ€ results from peopleâ€™s loss of confidence in the ability of the security agencies to protect them. They can fall victims of attacks from security agencies or criminals. Most times it is difficult to know the difference.
Nigerians are shot at checkpoints if they refuse to give bribes. Communal clashes provide opportunities for security agents to kill at will. There are also raids during which people are arrested from the streets or their homes â€“ usually after a crime â€“ and dubbed armed robbers.
Bank robberies are on the rise. Those transacting businesses with banks are at the mercy of criminals. Official inaction has generated a lot of insecurity.
From the poll, 51.7 per cent of respondents said the Police asked them for bribe. Others the study said demanded bribes were Immigration (29.8 per cent), Federal Road Safety Corps (29.4 per cent), Power Holding Company of Nigeria (27.6 per cent), Customs (26.0 per cent) and lecturers in tertiary institutions (23.2 per cent).
â€œMore than 50 per cent of those who report to the Police said they were dissatisfied with the police. The major source of this dissatisfaction has to do with their lack of capacity and gross ineffectiveness. Then, police treatment of complainants and their integrity or lack of it, which has to do with bribery and the Police colluding with suspects,â€ the study concluded.
CLEEN Foundationâ€™s Executive Director, Innocent Chukwuma, said of the study, â€œOur objectives include generating reliable complimentary data to official statistics on crime and assist policy makers in crime prevention and control planning.
It will provide the Police with an information base that would help it in the deployment of policing resources to areas most needed and contribute in reducing the high level of fear of crime in Nigeria,â€ Chukwuma said.
The Police and other security agencies are more interested in defending themselves than using studies like this to improve their operations.
They have their challenges, but the high level of insecurity is unacceptable â€“ this study is re-emphasising that position. It is another call for government to protect us.