That Nigeria's Organised Crime Ranking – :::…The Tide News Online:::… – The Tide
An exposé by the Institute for Security Studies and INTERPOL in partnership with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime affirms that the 2021 Global Organised Crime Index has ranked Nigeria among the dominant 10 criminal markets for trafficking in people, firearms, illicit cannabis and heroin trade, fauna crimes, synthetic drugs and non-renewable resource crimes.
The index shows that the countries with the highest crime rates are those experiencing conflict or frailty. According to the report, the Democratic Republic of Congo led the list of the criminal markets with a score of 7.75, supported by Columbia 7.66; Myanmar 7.59; Mexico 7.56; Nigeria 7.15; Iran 7.10; Afghanistan 7.08; Iraq 7.05; the Central African Republic 7.04 and Honduras 6.08.
Other high-scoring countries include Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, where conflicts have annihilated the formal economies, contributing to mass displacement and an incursion of weapons. The lowest-scoring countries with better flexibility and social safety include Tuvalu 1.54; Nauru 1.76; São Tomé & Principe 1.78; Liechtenstein 1.88; Samoa 2.04; Vanuatu 2.20; Marshal Island 2.31; Kiribati 2.35; Luxembourg 2.36 and Monaco 2.43.
Nigeria should be distraught over the revelation that blights its image and shows that the country is rarely recognised for something positive. This ranking puts us on an equal footing with lamentably failed states like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and the DRC. It is thus essential and demanding for governments at all levels and the citizenry to enlist forces in checking the murky transaction of purchasing and selling human beings for even more horrendous purposes.
Human trafficking is not only a problem but also a crisis. Empirical evidence illustrates that despite the steady endeavours of governments and the international community to contain it, it is the third-largest criminal enterprise globally, and ranks second in transnational organised crime. The Internet provides merchants with access to more potential victims via telephone, e-mail, instant messaging, and websites.
There is no greater violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms than human trafficking, including sexual exploitation, forced labour, domestic servitude and other contemporary forms of fleecing. Consequently, it is imperative to collectively address the atrocity, including other forms of trafficking, and to intensify efforts to adopt more evidence-based policy measures.
A report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) together with the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) in February 2021 on the main findings of the UNODC Fifth Global Human Trafficking Report discloses that children represented over 75 per cent of trafficking victims observed in West Africa. The report covers 148 countries and more than 95per cent of the global population, and is based mainly on official figures on trafficking cases between 2016 and 2019.
Similarly, the burden of substance abuse is growing and becoming a public health issue in Nigeria. Africa’s most populous country has earned a reputation as a centre of drug trafficking and management, especially among the teenage population. According to the 2018 UNODC report, “Drug Use In Nigeria”, one in seven people has used a drug in the past year. Moreover, one in five people who have used drugs in the past year suffers from drug-related complications. That has resulted in a number of criminal offences.
Furthermore, UNODC said that 14.4percent of Nigerians are involved in drug abuse. This is an adverse trend for the future of the country. Then 27.7percent of those 14.4percent were young people. We call for a reversal of this narrative to guarantee the prospects of young people across the country. A comprehensive approach to dealing with drug addiction is urgently required.
Additionally, the trend of arms trafficking and proliferation in Nigeria has affected its internal security, contributing to the violence, death and laceration of thousands of law-abiding citizens. The trafficking and proliferation of all calibres of firearms are troubling. An estimated 6 million of these weapons are in circulation in the country. This has certainly exacerbated insecurity, which has resulted in over 80,000 deaths and nearly three million internally displaced persons.
As part of attempts to hold down the proliferation of unauthorised arms, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the establishment of the National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (NCCSALW). Unfortunately, our institutions do not seem to appreciate these facts and take the necessary security measures. Now we have a preventable problem because we have not been proactive.
Nigerian governments are doing too little to limit these deadly crimes. The wave of insecurity and poverty has led to a great deal of trafficking. The authorities must inspire trust and project quality governance to lift Nigerians out of misery and lead them to hope. Those rescued from forced or sex labour abroad should be integrated into society and supported to cope with the intense psychological effects of trafficking, including shame and depression.
Appropriate funding is expected for NAPTIP, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), and NCCSALW. The judiciary must take a serious approach and accelerate the hearing in all trafficking cases. There are too many matters before the courts. Also, there should be a means to protect victims, so they would not end up being hostile witnesses after members of the various syndicates have been able to contact them, threatening them with death.
Since trafficking rings are watertight, the Federal Government should maintain a transnational alliance and exchange information with other countries to promote measures to combat trafficking. Nigeria must adopt the report of the West African Epidemiological Network on Drug Use (WENDU) on the fight against illicit drug usage and trafficking in the sub-region. The report contains data on the supply and use of banned drugs which may assist member-states in developing programmes, policies and advocacy activities.
Positives From Anambra Election
At last, the much-awaited Anambra State 2021 gubernatorial election has been organised, won, and lost. A former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Professor Charles Soludo, of the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) was proclaimed the winner to pilot the affairs of the state for the next four years. The poll has been described as a litmus test for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies.
Before the conduct of the election, violent disturbances by the separatist Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) had placed the poll under a vast haze of ambiguity. In the end, traditional rulers, politicians, stakeholders, and well-meaning indigenes of the state intervened and reason triumphed, allowing the exercise to go ahead as scheduled.
Soludo attained at least the needed 25 per cent of the ballots cast in all the 21 local government areas and won 19 LGAs outrightly. He polled 112,229 votes and defeated 17 other contestants, including Valentine Ozigbo of the Peoples Democratic Party (53,807 votes), and Andy Uba of the All Progressives Congress (43,285 votes). With his victory, APGA has again retained Anambra as its stronghold out of the 36 states in Nigeria. Come next March, the former CBN governor will succeed Willie Obiano.
The puzzle about the poll dissipated at the last minute as IPOB’s declared sit-at-home over the trial of Nnamdi Kanu was called off. INEC showed its latest technology by presenting the Biometric Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) device. The BVAS is an advancement on the card reader that makes collation, automatic transmission of results, and thumbprinting easier. While it reduces ballot box snatching and rigging, it diminishes manual collation.
Of specific significance was the repudiation of financial inducement of N5,000 by Eunice Onuegbusi from Ukwulu in Dunukofia Local Government Area of the state, which earned her a cash reward of N1 million. In a viral video, Onuegbusi was seen rejecting N5,000 from a party agent in her polling unit during the election. We applaud her for turning down the offer to sell her vote to mercantile politicians who understand politics strictly from the vantage point of commerce. Onuegbusi’s patriotic action is droolworthy.
However, poor coordination, vote-buying, INEC’s administrative challenges, over-militarisation, pre-election litigation and counter-lawsuits, violence, and low voter turnout characterised the ballot, demonstrating that Nigeria nevertheless has a long way to go for elections in the country to secure the least global democratic norms.
The BVAS device, brought in to expedite the accreditation and voting process, led to delays in a few areas by its failure to operate accurately. Besides being tedious in substantiating the fingerprints of voters, it outrightly failed to perform occasionally, compelling Soludo, Ozigbo, and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, among others, to encounter hesitations before they could vote.
Furthermore, a coalescence of logistics and administrative interruptions made voting start hours behind schedule, hence, discomfiting voters. INEC first introduced the smart card reader in the 2015 general election for accreditation, but it invariably failed while they did little or nothing to enhance it. By now, the electoral adjudicator should have carried out considerable enhancements in conducting elections with technology.
Although there are over 2.4 million registered voters in Anambra State, only 253,388, representing 9.73 per cent, were certified to vote. It is severely low. It speaks to the overwhelming voter apathy in Nigeria, which has produced a travesty of several polls in the country. Both the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) and Yiaga Africa had predicted low voters’ attendance in last Saturday’s election.
A similar projection was made after a survey by SBM Intelligence, a geo-political research organisation. The study disclosed that over 60 per cent of registered voters had chosen not to engage in the election. Reasons offered by some respondents include insecurity and absence of faith in the elective procedure. Findings, however, indicate that Anambra State has a record of low voter turnout for its governorship elections.
Since 1999, governorship elections in the state have never witnessed up to 50 per cent of voter turnout except in the 2007 election, which was characterised by allegations of massive rigging. Of the 1.84 million registered voters in the state in 2010, only 302,000 turned out to vote on election day. This translated to about 16 per cent of voters.
In 2013, only 465,891 of the total 1,770,127 registered voters went out to vote on election day, translating into about 25 per cent. And in the 2017 election, fewer than a quarter of the comprehensive figure of registered voters participated in the poll. The electoral umpire had revealed of the 2,064,134 residents certified as qualified voters for the election, only 457,511, about 22.16 per cent, literally came out on election day to be accredited. This is an expression of a loss of confidence in the electoral process of the country.
However, since the National Assembly has authorised electronic transmission of results in elections, there is hope provided INEC makes significant improvements to BVAS or any other apparatus it may determine to use. The electoral umpire should employ the 2022 governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun States to upgrade their equipment before the next general election in 2023.
On the whole, the just-concluded Anambra governorship election was a game-changer and an improvement in past elections, despite the challenges seen in the build-up and during the exercise. The big consolation was that the worst that was expected did not happen. Anambra did not become a killing field. The political parties and the politicians did not engage in bloodshed. Very few incidents of intimidation, violence and ballot snatching were recorded. Kudos to INEC, security agencies and the people of Anambra!
The utter collapse of a 21-storey building in the Ikoyi area of Lagos, Nigeria, once again raises the question of ratification, supervision, and regulation of the Nigerian building industry. It is cliché to detail such events when they take place, as they have become more and more frequent. Although the society can indict the proprietor of the project, the consultant or the contractor, there is more than can be imagined.
The Ikoyi incident is an immense tragedy in our country. No fewer than 45 people, including the property owner, were certified dead and several were maimed in the gruesome accident that trapped workers and guests to the site. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu expressed his discontent and again demanded an investigation into the episode. While we await the outcome of the fact-finding panel, we denounce the constant crash of buildings in the country, in which Lagos has become renowned.
Between 2011 and 2019, there were 88 building collapses in Nigeria, but only 21 occurred outside Lagos. This is particularly disconcerting! The Ikoyi tragedy dominated the event of a two-storey house that failed on the same day, November 1, in the Lekki area. The building was likewise under construction and gave way after the storm that night.
Earlier, the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) had confirmed the partial collapse of a three-floor structure in Aguda, Surulere area on October 25, 2021, which was ascribed to the misdeed of the property owner. The General Manager of the LASBCA, Gbolahan Oki, acknowledged that the owner had carried out illegal renovations and added attachments to the building without recourse to the agency.
In July 2021, a three-storey building on Church Street on Lagos Island partially collapsed at night as residents were asleep. LASBCA stated that the structural deficiency of part of the water tank beam caused the incident. In the same month, a two-storey building being raised in Isawo community in Ikorodu described as an attachment, crumbled and killed the owner.
Given these developments and others in the area, it is imperative to explore the periodic collapse of buildings in Lagos, the nation’s economic hub. That they have traced virtually all cases to process abuse and the application of lower quality materials indicates that incompetence has become ubiquitous in the sector. Intentional neglect and conspiracy with regulatory authorities cannot be ignored as well.
Shortly after the catastrophe of the Ikoyi building, a letter from a consulting firm that first worked on the skyscraper, Prowess Engineering Limited, came to light. The memo, dated 20th February, 2020, and delivered to the estate development company, Fourscore Heights Limited, exonerated itself from any consequences that might ensue from what the builder was executing outside the recommended procedures. Though the letter does not stipulate what transpired between both firms, the observations of the engineering firm are valid pointers to the cause of the disaster.
Prowess’ charge that the owner of the shattered building extended beyond authorised limits and had even utilised “inferior and terrible” materials in the construction with no feedback from the authorities, is a considerable indictment of the Lagos State Government. The state-owned regulators cannot justly claim to have been unaware of what was going on at the site.
We recall the monstrous building collapse at The Synagogue Church of All Nations on September 12, 2014. That catastrophe killed 116 people, and the ensuing mess of revelations is a painful resurgence of the one in Ikoyi. While an inquest by the coroner charged the church and its engineers with “criminal negligence” and recommended them for prosecution, little came of it. Not only did those involved get away with the blood on their hands, but some religious bigots further aided to advance the plot that the collapse was an assault on the church’s pastor.
Following serial failures to bring to book such infractions, building collapse has become mundane. The crash of buildings in Lagos State today is a conspiracy among corrupt state agencies. The unethical abandonment of supervisory functions by these agencies is associated with the alienation of some construction staff. Both legitimise their treachery through greedy publicists and social media influencers that help spread a lie.
Firms like Prowess Engineering should be applauded and handed over the job to report to regulatory agencies, clients who choose to overreach themselves and hence, endanger public safety. It is conceivable that, in these situations, reporting to the authority may be ineffective because of political considerations in how the state approaches such offences. And if the authorities cannot override individual concerns, an autonomous body should receive such apprehensions on behalf of all.
Oki’s suspension by Sanwo-Olu was reassuring because it meant there would be repercussions. But by the time Lagos State Deputy Governor, Obafemi Hamzat, visited the site and expressed some self-vindication on behalf of the builders, it was no longer as certain that heads would roll. According to him, the building was closed for four months last year because they noticed certain deviations, nevertheless later reopened.
Hamzat said the builders “were making corrective actions when this took place” and “at the time this happened, they were not really constructing.” His making justifications for the builders, when a proper investigation had yet been conducted, is not heartening. Are these government officials ready to deal with the mass degeneration of Lagos’ urban planning, or will they continue on the path of self-defence and concealment?
It must be noted that every collapse of a building has substantial impacts that no one can conveniently forget. The effects are mostly in economic and social terms. These include loss of human lives, injuries, economic waste concerning loss of properties, investments, jobs, incomes, loss of trust, dignity, and acceleration of troubles among the stakeholders and environmental calamity.
Lagos is a municipality that is required to have a plethora of towering buildings to accommodate its overflowing population, but that cannot be accomplished if the buildings collapse at will. The Ikoyi incident should serve as an opportunity to affirm a rule of “non-compromise.” One way to do this is to prosecute anyone who cannot carry out his or her obligations. Until those who undermine industry standards are prosecuted and jailed, there can be no breakthrough on that front.
After weeks of uncertainty and apprehension, the coast became clear for Nigeria’s leading opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to hold its national convention on October 30 and 31,2021. The Court of Appeal had a day before the event dismissed a suit filed by the then embattled National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, challenging his suspension months ago. The court likewise declined to halt the conduct of the convention.
Secondus had asked the appellate court to nullify his suspension, indicating that Section 59 (3) of the PDP Constitution affirmed that the ward or the state executive committee of any state has no authority to suspend any national officer of the party. He repeatedly requested that he be obliged to conclude his tenure on December 9, 2021, having been elected for a four-year term.
He also asked the court to set aside the orders of the Rivers and Cross River High Courts, which had earlier restrained him from parading himself as the national chairman. But a three-member panel of justices of the Appeal Court headed by Haruna Tsammani said it found no merit in Secondus’ appeal, maintaining that he renounced his position since he did not challenge his removal at ward and local government levels.
Amidst its nagging legal conundrums, the PDP headquarters, until recently, was divided, with some members calling for the outright exit of the embattled chairman while others backed him to lead the party into the convention. Undoubtedly, some party organs were split over Secondus’ fate.
With the legal hurdle cleared, not fewer than 3,600 delegates of the party assembled at the Eagle Square in Abuja to elect new members into the National Working Committee (NWC). Before the beginning of the convention, the Chairman of the National Convention Organising Committee, Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State, had blustered that the opposition party was bracing for the occasion and promised that it would be the best-organised convention in the country.
Indeed, the convention was hitch-free and memorable for the PDP, as all or most of the officers emerged via consensus. Consensus is part of the democratic process and we expect the opposition party to use the new officers who emerged through the process to stabilise the party. The new leadership will assume duties on December 9 to enable the outgoing NWC members to conclude their four-year tenure, which began on December 9, 2017.
The convention was a display of intrigues and power play, which saw the governors in the party growing up as an effective team against the veterans who have been calling the shots in the past. Obvious from the outcome of the convention is that governors now have unrestricted domination of the party. The event was again a pathway for the presidential aspirants to proclaim their plans, as they all displayed posters and banners to let the members know that they were coming out for the primaries of the party.
The machinery put up by the elders and presidential hopefuls, like the erstwhile Vice President Atiku Abubakar; former Governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido; former Senate President Bukola Saraki and others, to make Oyinlola and Ciroma emerge, failed as the governors had their way. Atiku, Saraki, Lamido and others had wanted Ciroma and Oyinlola to diminish the prevailing influence of the governors.
Though the October PDP national convention has come and gone, there are many lessons it demonstrates. First, we must applaud the PDP for holding a rancour-free convention that saw 19 of the 21 available positions won by consensus. That three of the candidates persuaded to step down for a favoured candidate by the powerful governors refused to do so, helped to legitimise the consensus arrangement, as it suggested that it was arrived at through persuasions and negotiations and not through fiat. This is recommended as a standard for political parties in Nigeria.
Second, despite all the pre-convention fears and nervousness stemming from the grim effort of Secondus to scurry the exercise, the main opposition party stood united and came out of Eagle Square unscathed. This has entrenched it in a position to salvage Nigeria from the maladministration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) government. This is again illuminating.
A further lesson to pick up from the convention is the crisis management mechanism of the PDP, which turned out to be more efficient than those of other political parties. The dominant opposition party has always overcome its challenges because perhaps the party has the most sophisticated people. For crushing the leadership crisis which would have blighted the last convention, the former ruling party has confirmed to Nigerians that if trusted again, it will do even better than before.
As the PDP basks in the splendour of a magnificent exercise, it has become indeed more sanguine to put the APC on notice that it is coming for its positions in 2023. This could be a manifestation that the key opposition party is fully back on stream. With a successful convention, the PDP may have challenged the APC with 92 chairmen in 36 state chapters to accomplish a comparable performance in their elusive convention.
Given the manner the opposition party handled its recent national convention and leadership crisis, not a few watchers of the nation’s democracy believe it has the potential to put up an excellent battle in the 2023 elections. However, while the hurdle of its leadership situation may have so far been managed from imploding by its governors, the challenge of holding the centre until the next general elections and wooing back its key players lost to the APC lately remains ambiguous.
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