IGP on crime rate

DESPITE the palpable security breaches epitomised by reports of violent killings and kidnappings across the country, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, has claimed that the crime rate in the country is declining. Not a few detached observers have argued that the IGP’s verdict must have been about another country other than Nigeria because the security situation on the ground clearly controverts his claim. And it will be unfortunate if the IGP’s position equates that of the government because that would be tantamount to a dangerous height of delusion. Of a truth, it is doubtful that Nigerians have ever felt a heightened sense of insecurity as they do today. And that is why it is difficult to fathom where and how the IGP got his feedback before arriving at the patently specious conclusion.

There seems to be a potent delirium in positions of power which makes their occupiers to become totally disconnected from the reality of their environment.  For instance, Leye Oyebade, the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP) in charge of zone 2, was on a familiarisation tour of Oyo State police command recently and he too expressed surprise and objected when journalists used the word ‘incessant’ in describing the spate of kidnapping and robbery on the Ibadan-Ife-Akure road. He said: “If one incident happened, you don’t use the word incessant to say it is now a terror zone.” That was a most insensitive comment to make in a zone that is literally under  siege by wayward Fulani herdsmen who carry out attacks on innocent citizens, especially travellers, virtually on a daily basis. It will bode well for cordial government-citizens relationship if the IGP and other government officials can learn to show some respect for Nigerians by guarding against public utterances that tend to suggest that they take their compatriots for fools.

There is hardly any Nigerian outside the official circles that will concur with the IGP that the security situation in the country is improving. Indeed, many would be inclined to affirm the obverse. Yes, the IGP reeled out seemingly positive statistics about the number of arrests made of kidnappers and armed robbers, the number of stolen vehicles recovered across the country, arms and ammunition seized from criminals, but such statistics pales into insignificance when the average Nigerian feels less secure today than he or she felt yesterday and that is the reality. There is a climate of fear all over the country. People of the South-West are horrified by the rising atrocious activities of the errant Fulani herdsmen in their domain.

Boko Haram terrorists, officially claimed to have been technically defeated, are overrunning army bases. Banditry is festering in Zamfara State at an alarming rate, frequently culminating in the death of scores of defenceless citizens. All of this cannot possibly be evidence of reducing crime rate. Even the United Kingdom (UK) recently issued a travel advisory on Nigeria, warning its nationals against visiting about 20 states out of the 36 states of the federation! Why is the IGP papering over the cracks? The crises did not start when he mounted the saddle and so no one is blaming him for the turn of events, but he will be unwittingly exacerbating the situation if he fails to be realistic and honest about the gravity of the security challenges the country is currently grappling with.

Recognising the enormity of the situation at hand and demonstrating willingness to take ownership of efforts at proffering solutions to the seemingly intractable problem are very crucial to developing appropriate strategies that may ultimately put paid to the security crisis. But where there seems to be issues with the admission of the weight of the challenge or there is a deliberate or pretentious interpretation of the trend, the crisis promises to intensify. The issue of trust-deficit between the police and the citizens is also bound to escalate if the IGP keeps insinuating the existence of calm which the citizenry cannot feel. Nigerians may have been forced to condone the hypocrisy of the police who coerce suspects to pay for bail at their stations whereas it is usually conspicuously pasted on their walls that ‘bail is free.’ It is however a different matter to continue to witness the maiming, decimation, abduction and extortion of their loved ones by criminals while the authorities are claiming the contrary.

Truth be told, the security situation in the country is deteriorating and this is obvious for dispassionate observers to see. The IGP’s claim of declining rate of crime is, therefore, grossly inaccurate. Rather than engaging in public deceit, the IGP should get down to brass tacks and embrace intelligence-based and technology-driven methods to rein in the menace of crime which, in itself, has become dynamic.  The current rising acts of criminality in the land are unlikely to stop or reduce by simply wishing them away or by being economical with the truth about the palpable reality.