The holiday season means lots of travelling, visiting giving and receiving of gifts, partying, and displaying of wealth and affluence. Although it is a really festive way to celebrate the season, there are ample reasons to protect your life and other assets against violent crime.
Violent Crime Defined
A violent crime is a crime in which an offender uses or threatens force upon a victim. It refers to a crime where intentional harm is inflicted against another individual during the commission of the crime. The inflicting of harm can as well include the use of weapons, poison, bodily contact, etc.
Types of Violent Crimes
Violent crimes appear to be a permanent feature of Nigeria society. The news is full of stories about people who have been murdered, abducted, robbed, raped, mugged, or otherwise assaulted. The truth is that there are many types of violent crimes in Nigeria and the frequency of commission is on the increase. These crimes include but not limited to:
f. Gang Violence
g. Domestic Violence
k. Battery, etc.
Terrorists groups, cult gangs, ethnic militias, disgruntled elements, and other organized criminal groups are daily emerging across the country, and are frequently cashing into the nation’s weak socio-political environment to unleash mayhem on law abiding citizens and residents.
Despite the well-meaning efforts of social workers, security and law enforcement personnel, and criminal rehabilitation professionals, the situation is fast deteriorating. Residents of big cities, small towns and villages, and people of all ages, religions, tribes, and race are not spared. These shocking and vicious crimes that occur almost on daily basis are assuming alarming proportion. To worsen the situation, women, mothers, the child first influencer, are now occupying the driving seat of violent crimes in Nigeria. Women have proved beyond reasonable doubt that they are more brutal, heartless organized criminal group leaders, suicide bombers, cultists, and you name it. The use of female suicide bombers as a new development in violent crime commission in Nigeria has raised more questions than answers. The link between rising cases of female suicide bombers and the abducted Chibok Schoolgirls should provoke empirical researches (irrespective of the perceived costs) where people value their security and safety above trivial things. Instead, Nigerians are busy blaming each other for failure of the security apparatus, and at the same time sabotaging every effort by government to contain the menace. I have been wondering, even aloud, whether Nigerians have all forgotten that security is everybody’s business. The failure of any national security is the failure of that nation and its people. Nigeria and Nigerians have failed security-wise. Security failure or insecurity has no eyes, knows no political affiliation, religious belief, ethnic attachment, social status, age bracket or colour of skin. The more we individually wait to become President to contribute meaningfully towards building a strong and viable Nigeria the more Nigeria will continue to drift down the abyss. And by that thinking and acting, it will take Nigeria over 175 million years to get out of the woods, based on our current population.
The security situation in Nigeria has degenerated to the extent that Nigerians and residents are being urged to take charge of their personal security. Then, what happens to our collective freedom which we submit to the government in exchange for security, you wonder? In battling to answer this question many Nigerians have ignored personal security to their own peril.
Factors Promoting Violent Crimes in Nigeria
There are a host of factors and circumstances that persistently contribute to violent crimes in Nigeria. Few among are:
a. Family Breakdown
Evidence suggest that majority of people who commit violent crimes come from broken families. They are mostly children who lack parental care and love. According to Marianito Panganiban, “There is a breakdown of people’s moral fiber in the sense that they have no guidance and then they go astray”. Poor family relationships and violent family backgrounds are common among aggressive criminals. A known cultist who was fingered in several robbery and murder cases in Eleme boldly told an assembly of traditional rulers, chiefs and elders, opinion leaders, women, and youths, who gathered at the town-square, when asked to show remorse and apologize for various allegations against him, “I am a cultist, no doubt. I am not an ordinary cultist. I am a leader that you all know. I am proud to be a renowned cultist. I have killed severally. No regrets. I will continue to kill till I die. I enjoy seeing my victim die. I am a child of a disorganized home. Please, do not misunderstand me. I am not appealing to your conscience nor do I intend to feel remorse. Just listen; my father disowned me at a very tender age. You all know. You all are also aware that my mother abandoned me as a child, even though she died mysteriously too. I am a very good example of a child who lacks parental care and love. I am not afraid to die. It is cowards that do regret their actions and weaklings that show remorse at every occurrence”. After these words, the young man stepped out of the town-square proudly, accompanied by his group members.
Other factors responsible for rising cases of violent crimes include:
i. A turbulent parent-child relationship;
ii. Parents who are unable to recognize problems in their children;
iii. Lack of closeness
iv. Parents who set few or no limits on a child’s conduct; and
v. Children who are extremely private, leading a double life and thus hiding a part of their life from their parents.
Today, many Nigerian children are victims of family break-up. Others have parents who have little or no time for them. Many others have grown up with inadequate moral and family guidance thus making it easier for them to commit crimes against fellow humans without remorse.
Violent crime can also be ignited and fueled by hatred. Those who harbour such hatred live in a world that is coloured by bigotry, shaded by conspiracy, and framed by ignorance. In Nigeria, for instance, terms such as “catchments area”, “quota system”, “state of origin”, “disadvantaged state”, “host community” and so on were fallouts and products of ethnic polarity propagated by the military and their civilian-political collaborators. This altered our psychic, slow down and affected the growth and development of the country, bred hatred, and led to various ethnic, tribal and religious crises, civil disturbances, intolerance, and ideological war like the one being waged by Boko Haram and others being orchestrated by hatred. Regrettable, the pockets of skirmishes and strife had culminated in massive looting, destruction of lives and property, and greatly affected the unity of the country and undermine the socio-economic advancement of Nigeria.
c. Dangerous Cult
Cults have a strong influence in the commission of violent crimes. Young men and women have been variously influenced to commit murder, rape, robbery, etc. so as to gain membership in certain cult group or to earn a promotion. Others have been urged into offending in order to go to heaven. The disturbances in Kano from December 18 to 29, 1980 in which 4,177 people were killed; 1,652 families displaced and the economic life of Kano City completely paralyzed masterminded by Maitatsine alias Muhammadu Marwa was a case of dangerous cult. His followers who believed that he could guarantee them automatic entrance and eternity in Paradise wee cult inspired. The death in Switzerland, Canada, and France of 69 members of The Solar Temple was cult motivated. If not cult propelled, what do you say is the primary factor behind the rising numbers of Boko Haram’s female suicide bombers? A mention of the 2011 religiously motivated post election crises in parts of northern Nigeria in which many people died and properties worth millions of Naira destroyed is another example. These examples illustrate the fearful influence that certain groups and individuals have had on the thinking of some people. Charismatic leaders have got people to do the “absurd” by tempting them with some supposed benefits.
d. Violence in Entertainment
Regular exposure to violence depicted on television, in movies, in video games, and on the Internet desensitizes the conscience and promotes various types of violent crimes in actual life. It has also been proved that “repeated exposure to entertainment violence in all its forms has significant public health implications”, said Dr. Daniel Borenstein, President of American Psychiatric Association. In other words, repeated exposure to movies, video games, Internet, etc. that glorify violence and killing can inspire aggressive behaviour.
e. Exposure to Live Violence
Exposures to actual violence promote aggressiveness. Children who grow up in an aggressive environment tend to be more incline to hostile lifestyle. Parents who quarrel and fight frequently before their children are setting dangerous precedent for those children. Such children grow up to be hostile, apprehensively rough, secluded, easily provoked and always on the defensive; and above all, sad and angry, even when not provoked. Aggressive environment also results in children’s not developing the ability to bond well with others, thereby making it easier for them to commit crimes against others without regret.
f. Drug Abuse
Drugs are present in an exceedingly high numbers of homicide and other violent crimes. Some people, whose thinking is warped by drug, use to kill while under the influence. Others defend their drugs and human trafficking by using violence and intimidation.
g. Access to Weapons
Easy access to destructive weapons is another factor in the rise of cases of violent crimes in Nigeria.
h. Inability to Cope with Problems
When hearing of certain heinous acts, some may react by saying, “That person must be crazy”. However, not all individuals committing such crimes are mentally deranged. Many, though, do have difficulties in coping with life. Personality defects may lead to extreme acts. These include:
a. Learning and social deficiencies:
b. Negative effects of physical or sexual abuse;
c. Anti social characteristics;
d. Hatred of a certain group or culture or religion;
e. Lack of remorse when doing wrong; and
f. A desire to manipulate others.
What their problem is, some become so consumed by their difficulty that their thinking is altered, and this can lead them to commit strange acts. For example, in 2005, 30 year old Pastor Ambrose beheaded his only child for money ritual. On his way to the native doctor’s house, he was arrested by the police with the skull. He pleaded that his inability to cope with 17 years poverty led him into committing the heinous act.
i. Mental Illness
Researches have revealed that certain mental illness can affect the thinking of the sufferers and this can lead them into committing senseless crimes that are not normal. According the FBI, “Homicide is not the act of sober, sane, individuals”. Something is believed to have affected their reasoning or altered their mind to the point that they will do the outrageous.
Other factors that also contribute to violent crimes in Nigeria include oppression, frustration, and injustice.
Dos and Don’ts of Personal Security during Festive Season
Before now individuals exercise their unrestricted freedom and provided their own security until communities bound together and they surrendered their freedom to the government to supply the needed security for a fee called tax. Unfortunately, governments all over the world have oppressively keep their people’s freedom in captivity and are continually collecting taxes from the people with little or no efforts made to provide real security. No doubt, the powers of our government is limited, no matter how noble their efforts to provide security. They do not have the power and the resources to root out the causes of crimes or provide a stable and secured environment.
As you read this article, bear in mind that violent crimes is fast turning Nigeria into a totally strange and dangerous country where we cannot predict what is going to happen the next day. Therefore as you celebrate this festive season:
1. Be alert to your surroundings, and trust your instinct whenever you feel uneasy.
2. Do not walk or jog very early in the morning or late at night alone.
3. When out at night, try to have a friend walk with you.
4. When watching television or listening to the radio or entertaining guests, especially at night, make sure all windows and doors are properly locked.
5. While travelling by public vehicle avoid one chance vehicle outside designated Motor Park.
6. Do not display your cash, cell phones, jewelries, flash car and other inviting targets.
7. If you think someone is following you, switch direction or cross the street. If the person continues to follow you, move quickly toward an open store, restaurant or a lighted house. Do not be ashamed or afraid to yell or shout for help.
8. Try to your park car in well-lighted areas with good visibility and close to walkways, stores, and people.
9. Always lock your car, even if it is in your own driveway.
10. Do everything you can to keep a stranger from getting into your car or to keep a stranger from forcing you into his/her car.
11. If a dating partner has abused you, do not meet him or her alone. Do not let him/her into your home or car when you are alone.
12. If you are a battered spouse, call the police immediately. Assault is a crime whether committed by a stranger, or your spouse or any other family member. If you believe that your children are in danger, call emergency hotline or the police and leave immediately.
13. If someone tries to rob you, give up your property; do not give up your life instead.
14. If you are robbed or assaulted, report the crime to the police. Try to describe the attacker accurately. Your actions can help prevent someone else from becoming a victim.
All well said and done, I must state here that the first and chief security officer in individual’s endeavour is the individual himself. The higher you go in life, the more vulnerable you become. But the more security consciousness you acquire, the less victim you become. Therefore, make security a daily affairs; it prolongs life and sustains assets. Your security is your life!