Many Nigerians have expressed worries over the recent increase in criminal activities, especially the frequency of violent crimes across the country.
They blamed state governors and the police for their inability to deal effectively with criminals.
Those who spoke with our correspondents lamented that crimes such as robbery, kidnapping, militancy, and herdsmen attacks, among others, had taken a frightening dimension in recent times.
Some residents in Kwara, Ogun, Ondo, Enugu, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo, Niger, Osun, and Ekiti states blamed their governors for failing to provide necessary support for the police, while others stated that the country’s security agencies were ineffective.
But the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps told SUNDAY PUNCH that they were doing their best with the available human and material resources at their disposal.
In Kwara State, with just 4,700 policemen watching over 3.5 million people, an elder statesman, Mr. Sunday Babalola, insisted the state government was not doing enough to curb crimes and improve on the security of lives and properties in the state.
Babalola, a former Peoples Democratic Party governorship aspirant, said the state lacked security technologies such as closed-circuit televisions and sufficient street lights, adding that the state government was not providing enough funding and logistics for security agencies in the state.
But the Senior Special Assistant to the Kwara State Governor on Media and Communication, Dr. Muyideen Akorede, said the state government was doing its best to provide funding and logistics for security agencies in the state, citing “Operation Harmony” as an example.
The Police Public Relations Officer in Kwara State, Mr. Ajayi Okasanmi, noted that cultism was the biggest threat in the state.
Other major crimes in the state, according to Okasanmi, are ritual killings and kidnappings by suspected Fulani herdsmen. He said the herdsmen kidnapped people and attacked farmers at Baruteen Local Government Area of the state, which shares boundary with Benin Republic.
He said, “No fewer than 60 suspected cultists, 14 armed robbery suspects and 12 culpable homicide suspects had been arrested in the past six months in the state.”
In Ogun State, at least 1,510 suspected criminals have been arrested in the last six months, for committing various offences like armed robbery, cultism, kidnapping, and rape, according the state’s police command.
The acting Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Abimbola Oyeyemi, told SUNDAY PUNCH that, “The state as a whole deserves to be properly policed, because of its peculiar nature. The state has the highest number of tertiary institutions in Nigeria; it is the host to many religious headquarters and also borders another country.”
According to the spokesperson for the Ondo State Police Command, Femi Joseph, 49 suspected criminals have been apprehended in the last six months, with 29 weapons made up of three AK 47 rifles, five cut-to-size pistols, 15 live cartridges, six axes and a cutlass recovered.
The police in Osun State complained of not having enough vehicles for patrol, adding that cultism and robbery were the most frequent crimes committed in the state.
The Commissioner of Police in Osun State, Mr. Femi Oyeleye, said the command was able to arrest eight persons for armed robbery and fraud. He added that one AK-47, 17 vehicles, and 13 motorcycles were recovered in the last three months.
In that same period, the NSCDC in Ekiti State said it arrested over 200 suspected criminals.
Spokesman for the Enugu State Police Command, Mr. Ebere Amaraizu, said a comprehensive record of arrests made since the beginning of the year was not available.
Some residents who spoke with SUNDAY PUNCH identified homicide, armed robbery, stealing, car snatching, kidnapping and cultism as frequent crimes in the state.
In the same vein, a former Chairman of the Social Democratic Party, Mr. John Nwobodo, said, “The police and other security agencies are not doing enough because of the high level of corruption in the agencies.”
Also, Chairman of the Trade Union Congress in Enugu, Mr. Chukwuma Igbokwe, blamed the rising crime rate on the state government for allegedly failing to provide jobs for the youth.
A former Military Administrator of Akwa Ibom State, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (retd.); a university lecturer in Bayelsa State, Dr. Philips Okolo, and an ex-Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Tarinyo Akono, said economic recession in the country was responsible for the high rate of crime.
A Cross River State resident, Utum Eteng, blamed the state government for not doing enough to curb the increasing crime rate in the state, adding that the police and other security agencies should not be blamed.
Eteng said, “A governor who is always out of the state without giving powers to his deputy will create a vacuum and this has escalated the security situation.”
Speaking on the increasing crime rate, the Commissioner of Police in Edo State, Chris Ezike, however, told SUNDAY PUNCH that the state command had recorded a decrease in criminal activities.
It was gathered that 1,134 suspected criminals and 246 weapons were arrested between September 9, 2015 and July 30, 2016.
The Vice-Chancellor of Igbinedion University, Prof. Oghosa Osaghae, said the increasing crime rate was as a result of a “complex of reasons” comprising bad economy, proliferation of arms and drug abuse.
According to the Executive Director, Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, David Ugholor, some of the crimes “are high-tech and the police do not have sufficient (technical) resources” to deal with them.
The Niger State Police Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana, told one of our correspondents that the police were doing everything they could to prevent crime.
Elkana said, “There is crime everywhere, but we are doing everything to curtail it so that people will have free movement to go anywhere they want to with no fear of contradiction. In the last six months, the command has arrested 142 suspected criminals and seized 15 fire arms.”
The state Commandant, Mr. Philip Ayuba, identified Minna, Suleja and kontangora as the state’s black spots, adding that 72 suspects were arrested and 44 weapons seized in the last six months.
The Imo State Command, in the last six months, arrested over 198 kidnap suspects, 28 child trafficking suspects, 112 cultists, 167 armed robbery suspects, 18 murder suspects and recovered 60 vehicles.