Ending The Spate Of Robberies In Keffi, Nassarawa State.
Robberies occur everywhere in the world for plenty reasons chief of which may be a perceived inability of a state to provide adequate policing within the dictates of its boundary. This is a political factor. Another identified cause of robberies is a widening gap between leaders and followers. leaders in this instance include elected political officials, members of their family, their business associates and followers with links to government officials. Where the gap is wider than normal, younger persons in larger society holding the shorter end of the bargain, if morally bereft cave under pressure to meet up with their peers among the leading class. This is the social twist.
Like a viral disease, there have been a surge in violent crimes in Keffi, Keffi Local Government Area, Nassarawa State, North Central Nigeria. Ordinarily, the calmness and security enjoyed by Abuja, Nigeria's capital should rub off on nearby states. Unfortunately, this have not being the case. What is currently obtainable may casue one to conclude that the federal governments' effort to rid the FCT or thieves may actually mean (clean up the FCT, empty the filt on nearby states). A sad reality!
Keffi is host comminity to a Federal Medical Facility and the 177 Guard Battalion of the Nigerian Army. The town hosts a university and a Nigeria's national television channel. Plenty landmarks exists in this town which is also the seat of the Keffi Emirate Council.
In the last 30 days, youth restiveness in Keffi and environs have leaped. Violent crimes often committed by adequately armed youth gangs have increased. These have threatened the peace of society as it is suddenly very common for a small group of at least 10 youngmen, armed with guns and knives to engage in stealing. So regular is this occurence that residents for fear of being killed are constrained to in mass seek accomodation elsewhere where their lives are secure. Already, as much as 10 successful robbery operations have been recorded.
The local police team though aware of this terrible situation is clearly helpless within the dictates of the current circumstance. They are poorly equipped and their welfare is discouraging, consequently, men and officers of the force would rather refrain from adequately protecting property and lives since they obviously lack capacity to so perform. Local vigilante service(s) made up of mainly volunteers is struggling to contain the menace. This development is an ugly one and should not be in a society like Nigeria especially as the past government is known to have invested heavily in security especially in the North.
Recently, in Angwan Tanko, a sleepy county in Keffi, three robberies happened in one month till September 12th. There was massive shootings as hoodlums vandalized properties whilst carting away plenty cash and other valuables. The local Police did not show up despite distress calls to the switch board. Local residents suggest they took to hiding because of lack of capacity to confront the thieves. Even if they dared, the remarkably bad nature of the roads around the town would have been perfect ambush against them. The thieves, lying in wait will simply kill them!
Unless deliberate steps are taken by government to nip this development, house-to-house robberies will quickly escalate to highway robbery. If the persons involved in the acts are not jailed by the government after prosecution, they may graduate to assassins with tendency to boost the rank of the Boko Haram terrorist cell which though hibernating is yet to disband.
Already, resident look up to government to provide them with security. For fear of an unknown end, they would rather not complain openly. The state government is plagued with illiquidity and may not have the might to provide additional support to security agents. Ending this situation is therefore squarely on the Nigeria Police Force which should also arrest the trend of unauthorized persons owning light arms. Maybe an amnesty deal should be considered like in Benue State.
Many people think there should be a special collaboration between the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters and the Nassarawa State Command of the force domiciled in Lafia. This is because it is generally known that Abuja is Nigeria's most secure city; every security outfit operated by the federal government have a huge concentration of it operatives there. Consequently, as a way out, the Nigeria Police Force should consider providing extra support to Nassarawa State, Keffi especially in areas like manpower development and provision of material support. The civil defense corp should be boosted.
Keffi is less than 10 kilometres from the FCT. A large number of government employees working in Abuja live there. The place is a natural abode for federal and state public officials. It can therefore be assumed that if intra town robberies blossom to highway robberies, many government offices may be shut for some hours as workers will fail to arrive early. The government will loose revenue as paid staff time, when lost cannot be regained. Aerial surveillance and undercover security patrol of identified flashpoints should commence. Where already available, it should be more consistent. Also, functional security cameras should be mounted on all major roads. This will disuade youngsters from either joining gangs of bandits or aiding their activities.
It is the primary role of every government to protect its citizens. Residents of Keffi must enjoy this responsibility of government towards them.
Omaga E. Daniel is a social activist.