INSECURITY IN NIGERIA
MISS MUFULIHAT IBAGBE
DOKITA EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER
Section 14 (2)(b) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”(1). Unfortunately, the government has not been able to fulfill this constitutional responsibility. Security is a premise for growth and development of a nation as it attracts foreign investors and also allows local investors operate freely (2). Lately, Nigeria has been in a meshwork of insecurity leading to deaths of civilians, foreigners, governmental and non-governmental workers (3). The country is plagued by different types of crime and threats to life and security. Advanced English Dictionary describes insecurity as “not confident about yourself or your relationship with other people; not safe or protected”. It can also be defined as “a breach of peace and security, whether historical, religious, ethno-regional, civil, social, economic and political that contributes to recurring conflicts, and leads to wanton destruction of lives and properties” (4).
The number of violent killings, kidnappings, politically motivated killings, suicide bombings, ethnic clashes, religious killings, armed banditry has become increasingly high in the country in the past few years and this has led to physical and psychological consequences for individuals and families in the country(5). Between 2012 and 2020, insecurity accounted for 70, 000 deaths in the country (6).
The burden of insecurity is so high that the Federal Government passed the Anti-Terrorism Act in 2011 to cater for cases of terrorism and allocated 1.96 trillion naira (which is 25% of the total) to defense in the 2021 budget (7). According to the Global Peace Index, Nigeria ranks 146 out of 163 countries and was also the least peaceful country in Africa after South Sudan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Central African Republic, Sudan and Mali (8). These emphasise the worsening insecurity. Despite all the efforts that have been put forth by the government before mow, desired positive results have not been evident.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND CAUSES OF INSECURITY IN NGERIA
The biggest challenge faced by Nigeria is insecurity. The most populous country in Africa has witnessed unprecedented incidences of these. They range from the activities of Fulani herdsmen, boko haram insurgencies, armed robberies, kidnappings, ethno-religious conflicts, child and women trafficking and activities of the Niger Delta militants to mention a few. According to Ali(9), there is an increasing fear of insecurity in Nigeria and this is compounded by the rising waves of terrorism that has plagued it since its return to democracy in 1999 .
Insecurity in Nigeria dates back as far as the military regime when arms were imported into the country during and after the civil war by the military (4). Following the war, arms and weapons were in possession of civilians and ex-military men who resorted to crime out of need for survival following job loss. Currently, insecurity in the country is regionalised and is at an alarming rate. The North is riddled with insurgency, and the East and South are battling with kidnappers and ritual killings in the West (10).
Boko haram is terrorist group in Nigeria that was set up in 2002 in Maiduguri, Borno state. Since 2009, the group had committed widespread human right abuses in North eastern part of the country and in 2013, activities involved other neighbouring countries. They have claimed responsibility for several killings, bombings and kidnappings in the country (11). Since 2011, the group has been responsible for 375, 000 deaths, 2.5 million displacement and 244,000 refugees (6).
Kidnappings became rampant in Nigeria in the 1990s. Nigeria has one of the world’s highest rates of kidnapping for ransom cases. Between June 2011 and March 2020, Nigerians have paid an estimated $18.34 million as ransom to kidnappers (6).It was initially a means by the Niger Delta militants to protest the exploit and degradation of their community (10). However, currently, it occurs all over the country and is targeted at the wealthy, school children and sometimes the poor.
Ethno-religious conflicts began in Nigeria as far back as the 1980s. There was the Maitatsine riot in 1980 when Mohammad Marwa attempted to force his religion on other religious groups in the country. Mohammad Marwa was a migrant from Cameroon and declared himself a Prophet. The conflict became so serious that the military intervened and there was a loss of at least 5000 lives and lots of properties destroyed (12). Several countless conflicts have occurred between then and now.
- Farmer-Herder clashes: The interaction between farmers and herders is inevitable. This relationship however, is what has led the herders and their hosts into a tussle for land, water and natural resources. According to International Crisis Group, the conflict between herders and farmers was six times deadlier than boko haram insurgency and there has been a body count of 19 000 since 1999 (6).
- Niger Delta Militancy: The activities of this group dates as far back as the 1990s. Minority groups in the region rose as a result of degradation of the environment by oil companies. According to Vanguard Newspaper (13), between January 2000 and January 2020, there were 19, 101 deaths from militant attacks. Politicians, in their bid to advance their aspirations reward gang members for acts of political violence (14). This resulted in the emergence of other militant groups who now cause problems in the region.
There is a sporadic increase in violence in Nigeria. Lawless sects arise on a daily basis in different aspects of the country and claim responsibilities for bombings, killings, kidnappings and armed robbery. Many causes have been postulated to cause insecurity. Some of them include:
- Porous borders: The border is the first line of defense against insecurity (15). Nigerian borders are characterised by the unmitigated flow of migrants between Nigeria and other neighbouring countries. Even though the porosity of Nigerian borders dates back as far as the colonial era, it has also been observed that successive governments have failed to 4 properly manage them (15). The borders are not adequately guarded and hence promote the free entry and exit of criminals and arms and weapons. Edeko (16) reported that Nigeria hosts over 90% of about 80 million illegal weapons in West Africa. Nigeria is the only country where people troop in and out without adequate checkmating (17).
- Unemployment/poverty: The idle mind is the devil’s workshop. Most of the perpetrators of crime in the country are youths who were recruited because they could not find honest means of survival. In Nigeria, unemployment is projected to rise as high as 32.5% in 2021 with the youths mainly affected since they occupy a huge chunk of the population (18). According to National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)(19), 34.2 per cent of youth population between 15 and 24 years of age are unemployed. Between 2006 and 2020, Nigeria averaged an unemployment rate of 13.55 per cent. In the last quarter of 2020, unemployment rate was 33.3% from a 27.1% in the second quarter (20). According to International Fund for Agricultural Development 2007, Poverty is a threat to human existence and reduces a man to a perpetual state of infancy. Between 2017 and 2019, an average of 9.1% of Nigerians experienced hunger which is an increase from 6.4% which was experienced between 2014 and 2016(21).
- Electioneering and bad governance: In most African countries, elections are riddled with uncertainties (22).The electoral politics of Nigeria has been riddled with violent conflicts, political thuggery, assassinations and arson from the 1960s, all being sponsored by members of the political class (4, 22, 23). This has deprived Nigerians rulership from good leaders because most of their political leaders occupy offices for personal gains only (17).
- Ethnic and religious violence: This is as a result of distrust between the ethnic and religious groups in the country. Most conflicts in Nigeria have been linked to ethnicity and religion (12). Ethno-religious conflict is defined as a situation in which the relationship between members of the ethnic or religious group and another of such group in a multi ethnic and multi religious society is characterised by lack of cordiality, mutual suspicion, fear and tendency towards violent confrontations (17). Nigeria has been bedeviled with these conflicts since independence and they occur in all areas of the country. This can also be attributed to inability of the government to equitably distribute resources of the country (4, 17). It has been reported that 40% of ethno-religion based conflicts are credited to this republic (24).
- Weak security systems: This is as a result of inadequate equipment supply to the security forces. Also, often times, security personnel assigned to deal with a situation lack the necessary skill and expertise to handle it. Nigeria has a police to citizen ration of 1:400 which is far better than the United Nations standard which is 1:450 (10). Unfortunately, the level of insecurity in the country does not justify this number.
The list is inexhaustive. The above is just to mention a few.
CONSEQUENCES OF INSECURITY
Insecurity has destabilized the country in diverse ways. The country has been affected socioeconomically, politically and psychologically. Some of its impacts include;
- Internal displacement of people from their homes
- Loss of lives and properties
- Poor economic growth
- Separation between families
- Sexual and gender based violence
- Violence against children
Security is important for the progress of every nation. Insecurity is not a challenge face by Nigeria alone. However, what distinguishes insecurity in a developing and a developed country is how threats are managed (2).
- Moral, values and religious education: Education is a precursor to any form of development. It is believed that “any form of education that is devoid of right or correct values, right morals and sound religion is said to produce educated sinners that are suitably recruited as political thugs, miscreants in garages, and public squares, ethnic militias, armed robbers, human traffickers to mention a few”. Individual moralty is very important. Leaders emerge from the society. When each individual contributes their part to being a better person, then the society can breed responsible citizens. It is from this breed that leaders emerge.
- Intolerance of corruption: Corruption is the complete opposite of progress as it leads to political instability, social unrest and a crime infested environment (17). Governmental bodies that fight crime should be autonomous and adequately equipped with skills and manpower.
- Job creation for the unemployed and underemployed with appropriate remuneration.
- Solidification of security personnel: Temple 2013 believes that law enforcement agents are not appropriately remunerated in terms of welfare packages, salaries (10). There should be provision of adequate skills, appropriate arms and weapons, and remuneration for the security forces. The forces need to be equipped with the modern methods of intelligence gathering and the proven modern ways of dealing with a security situation.
- Harmonisation between religious leaders, traditional rulers and other stakeholders in helping the government and security forces to combat insecurity by sensitising and giving useful information to people under them.
- Good governance: The ultimate objective of this is the focus on people. Government needs to act only in the best interests of the people that elected it into power without being ethnic or religion biased.
- Strengthening of the judicial system: According to the 1999 constitution, the judiciary is saddled with the interpretation of law, punish those who violate the law, make decisions on civil cases and assess the innocence or guilt of a person based on criminal laws. This can be done by the proper modernization of courts, amendment of the constitution, hastening of judgment on criminal cases by creating special criminal courts and granting autonomy to the judiciary.
- State policing: It has been reported that there may be need to decentralise the police force in order to boost their operative capacities.
- Bargaining between conflicting parties
Insecurity is a failure of the function of government. This is evident in the incapacity of government to make available public services that would meet the basic needs of Nigerians. Lack of basic amenities is what produces frustrated individuals that would do anything to survive in the already rotten system. Government needs to know that the protection of lives and properties is a social contract between the masses and the government.
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