Insecurity in Nigeria has in recent years been signposted mainly by terrorism, banditry, herdsmen’s attacks and kidnappings for ransom. Because of the inability of the law enforcement agents to bring the situation under control, the more traditional urban crime of armed robbery has now assumed a frightening dimension.
Armed robbers now notify their prospective victims ahead of time before they strike. For instance, the residents of Olopa Estate, Ofatedo in Egbedore Local government Area of Osun State, were recently served such a letter which read in part:
“Notice: This is to inform you that we, thieves, are coming to rob every house in your community or you should contribute the sum of N20 million and keep it with your community chairman for us to pick up when we come. We are coming with full force and we will kill any of your securities that intend to disturb us”. The letter was written in English and Yoruba.
Robbers and bandits have also written similar letters in other parts of the country before striking. Also, traffic robberies have worsened, especially on many highways and bridges in Lagos. Last week, robbers held traffic on the Long Bridge in the outskirts of Lagos to ransom as they robbed unchallenged for hours. A hair salon robbery in Lagos Island caught on video also trended in the social media the same week.
The disturbing aspect is that in spite of the danger of being videoed with the ever-present phone cameras, the young people who engage in these devil-may-care robberies no longer even bother to cover their faces with masks.
The lack of fear of the police and security agencies became rampant after the #EndSARS protests of October last year which hoodlums hijacked to directly attack police officers and stations with surprisingly very little resistance. The situation has been worsened by the nefarious activities of the so-called “unknown gunmen” in the South East and South-South, killing on-duty police officers, burning down police stations and even breaching correctional centres.
The boldness with which the hoodlums carry out their dastardly acts against defenceless people is boosted by the involvement of criminal elements in our police and security agencies. Only recently, some uniformed officers and even a senior political appointee of the Nasarawa State Governmentwere implicated in the vandalisation and stealing of rail tracks.
We call on the Federal Government to look into the apparent sell-out of some our security agents to the underworld. Criminals in uniform must be rooted out and punished. Senior security officers must be held to account for the criminal activities of officers under their commands.We must avoid a situation where people resort to self-help for heir own security. That, surely, is proof of a failed state.
This descent to anarchy must be arrested.