Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM


Democratically Organised Community Policing and Mass Gainful Employment Can Reduce Violent Crimes Drastically

By Chinedu Bosah

The working masses are facing different attacks on all fronts. On one hand, they are grappling with the heavy weight of exploitation and mass looting of public resources and funds, on the other hand, they are paying the heavy price of kidnapping and other violent crimes. In as much as we do not justify violent crimes, the growing poverty arising from the capitalist programmes is creating more idle and desperate hands in the devil’s workshop – hands and minds that would have been channelled towards more productive things to enhance the economy. But in a country where large numbers of the ruling elite have accumulated vast wealth through corruption, bribery and looting the precedent has been set that crime pays.


According to the World Bank, 5 million Nigerians were driven into poverty between January and October 2022 due to inflation and a rise in the cost of living. In the first 5 months of 2023, an additional 4 million Nigerians were driven into poverty, making a total of 9 million forced into poverty in 13 months. According to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS), 133 million Nigerians are multi-dimensionally poor as of 2022, representing 63% of the population. Besides, KPMG predicts that the actual unemployment rate would grow to 43 percent while the IMF projects that the inflation will accelerate to 44 percent in 2024. These economic realities have forced many Nigerians into a desperate situation of violence and fraudulent crimes.


Kidnapping is now a lucrative criminal venture. For instance, a notorious kidnapper (Chukwudi Dumeme Onuamadike popularly known as Evans) told the police in 2017 after he was arrested that he received a ransom of $4 million (about N5 billion today) from 4 high-profile victims between 2015 and 2016. Daily Trust reported in July 2022 that N800 million was paid to the kidnappers who attacked the Abuja -Kaduna train on March 28, 2022, for the release of 7 high-profile abductees. The rich are no longer the sole victims of kidnapping, many poor people including school children, workers, farmers, and road travellers are now victims, the only difference is that the families of the poor victims pay lower ransom compared to the rich victims.

In many kidnap cases, the families of the poor victims resort to community crowdfunding to be able to raise millions of Naira to secure the release of their loved ones. There is no assurance that the payment of ransom guarantees the release of their victims as was witnessed in the case of nine persons kidnapped in Ekiti recently wherein the driver was killed while 8 others (5 school children and 3 teachers) were released. All victims are pupils and workers of Apostolic Faith Group of Schools, Emure Ekiti. The kidnappers demanded N100 million but later reduced it to N15 million after negotiation. However, interestingly, the kidnappers demanded and received 8 packs of fried rice with chicken, drinks, and cigarettes in addition to the N15 million. According to one of the parents as reported in Punch Newspaper, the victims’ families contributed N4 million while the community residents and others contributed N11 million but government officials and the police lied that the victims were rescued. This kidnapping incident happened on the same day gunmen killed two Ekiti monarchs (the Onimojo of Imojo, Oba Olatunde Olusola, and the Elesun of Esun Ekiti, Oba Babatunde Ogunsakin).

Similarly, Ibrahim Obadiah who hails from Chikun LGA, a central part of Kaduna where 1,010 persons have been kidnapped in 73 separate incidents in the last ten years was not lucky to return alive. This is despite the fact that the family paid N3.2 million, handed recharge cards worth N50,000 and a motorbike worth N800,000 to the kidnappers. When the family demanded the corpse, the kidnappers asked them to pay N10 million.

It is now high risk to travel on the road to different parts of the country or live in some places. Over 400 persons were kidnapped between December 1, 2023, and January 30, 2024, and most of these kidnap incidents happened in Zamfara, Anambra, Benue, Cross River, Sokoto, Taraba Delta, Enugu, FCT, Kaduna, Kastina, Kogi, Lagos, Nassarawa, Ogun and Rivers States. Just in Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), 30 occupants were kidnapped from their houses while 7 persons were kidnapped in Kubwa Town of FCT.

Aside from widespread kidnapping, ritual killings have claimed many lives especially in the Southwest. The murderous activities of Boko Haram and other Islamist insurgents are still raging in the North-East characterized by killing and displacement of many persons from their communities including farmers, a situation that contributed to rising food insecurity. Another major element of the insecurity is the agelong herders-farmers crisis especially the atrocities of killer herdsmen in the Northcentral and other parts of the country.


The north-western part of the country has been engulfed with banditry for more than 15 years, violence that has grown into a big money-making venture. It started with cattle rustling when pastoral and farming activities increasingly got threatened by the lack of enough water and grazing areas as a result of climate change and physical development coupled with the growing poverty and lack of opportunities for the growing rural populations. Over 50,000 persons, mostly young persons have been reportedly attracted to the different criminal gangs in the region. For many, it is now a way to eke out a living and stay alive in an unending vicious circle of violence, and for the bandit leaders, it gives wealth and power.

On two grounds, the government has failed to provide economic succour or jobs and also failed to provide security in the midst of growing violent attacks. The police are too weak to provide security and are only relevant in picking dead bodies after the bandits have registered their trademark of violence. The bandits usually outnumber and possess far better firearms than the police. Besides, the rank-and-file police are poorly and hence the tendency to be corrupt. The army could not secure the vast rural space and forest and resorted to manning checkpoints in some places while the air force engaged in airstrikes and some cases striking blindly led to the killing of innocent civilians; when the strikes hit bandits’ hideouts, the bandits embark on retaliatory attacks on defenseless communities and often the case there is no military response to protect the people. There are also many instances of military vengeance against innocent civilians including children in communities where soldiers are killed by criminal elements. A well known example of this is the Odi massacre in 1999. There are also allegations of such a reprisal attack as a collective punishment on Okuama community following the murder of soldiers by armed gang in March 2024.

Unlike the kidnapping and other criminal activities in the south, the violence in the north-east and north-west has mass character. Many of the helpless communities have resorted to paying ransom, levies, taxes, and in some cases, handing over farm produce and livestock to bandits to enable them to get limited peace in the absence of government protection. Some communities reached deals with bandits’ leaders for protection from banditry in general in exchange for money, an arrangement that supplants the traditional leaders and government/civil authorities. These bandits settle disputes and provide minimal administrative activities. It is not that the local populace prefers reaching deals with the bandits, these are deals imposed on them at gunpoint. In Zamfara, similar to what happened in other affected states, a local vigilante group known as Yan Sakai was set up to provide security. But lack of democratic control by the people and the facts that the bandits have more sophisticated arms usually smuggled from the Sahel mean that the efforts of vigilante group yield little results. With no democratic control other vigilante groups such as OPC, and Bakassi Boys, Yan Sakai sometimes carries out attacks on innocent persons and this creates mistrust among the populace. Similar to the arrangements, some local communities enter with the bandits, the local and state governments have separate deals with the bandits but the crises that usually arise is the sustainability of the ransom which grows steadily due to higher demands and the emergence of new groups.


The age-long violence in Plateau State is mostly ethno-religious character but sometimes the violence has an economic undertone of clashes between the farmers and herders. In December 2023, another round of violence erupted in Mangu Local Government of Plateau State. The clash between the populace of Mwaghavul and Fulani led to deaths and loss of properties. According to Premium Times, over 4,000 persons have been killed in Plateau State since 1994. In 2023 alone, over 400 persons were killed in Bokkos, Barkin Ladi, and Mangu LGAs. Fueling the violence in Plateau is mistrust, lack of opportunities, growing poverty, farmers-herders clash, ethnic identity, marginalization etc.


The secessionist agitation is still ongoing in the southeast leaving behind deaths and violence in many instances. Many people in the region feel they will be better off if the region breaks away from Nigeria, but this is not guaranteed if capitalism reigns supreme in the breakaway region. Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leads the agitation and the government has been responding with excessive force thereby provoking attacks from IPOB against state forces, state institutions, and the civilian population seen to be supporting the Nigerian government or flouting its orders. The support base of IPOB is mostly poor and unemployed people who have many reasons to agitate including lack of opportunities, growing poverty, growing inequality, etc. To demonstrate the social character of the agitation, leadership has continuously changed guard from Late Odumegwu Ojukwu to Ralph Uwazuruike (leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra) and now Nnamdi Kanu. Since the imprisonment of Kanu, the agitation has been sustained under the leadership of Simon Ekpa who is leading the agitation from Finland. Despite the call by IPOB leaders to end the sit-at-home directive in the southeast, it is still being observed in many places, and local leaders and agitators ensuring compliance including through the use of violence in some places. State visit of Buhari to Imo State last year was met with a mass boycott of markets and workplaces.


The failure of capitalism and the ruling capitalist elite is reflected in the growing level of insecurity and poverty. The typical response of the capitalist state is to deploy excessive force but in the absence of resolving the root cause of insecurity, its strategy fails woefully. Knowing fully well that it cannot protect the people, the tiny privileged politicians and rich individuals corner for themselves about 150,000 armed policemen and women for protection leaving the vast majority of Nigerians with just 221,800. This is a case study of security for the highest bidders and the wealthy leaving over 200 million Nigerians insecure including security officers.

Socialists call for the introduction of democratically controlled non-sectarian community policing and defense forces to respond to violence and attacks from criminals. However, there cannot be a permanent solution to socio-economic and political crises under capitalism, it is a system that breeds inequality, poverty, homelessness, and insecurity. The working masses who are in the vast majority have to struggle to defeat the capitalist class and reorganize society such that controls and manages societal resources in line with socialist programmes to meet the needs of all to end want, misery, and poverty in the long run. This must exist side by side with the recognition of right to self-determination of any ethnic group as a step towards resolving the national question. With the abundance of opportunities, end to poverty, and mass employment through massive economic activities and investment in the economy and democratic running of society, the material conditions for criminal activities will begin to wither way.