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ABSTRACT

The study examined the reign of armed gangs on the Nigerian roads. Highway Armed Robbery Incidents (HARIs) was used as a proxy for the activities of armed gangs on the road. The lack of Documentation of Highway Armed Robbery Incidents (HARIs) in Nigeria posed as a limitation to the study however data from police stations and newspaper reports were used to capture an average of the Highway Armed Robbery Incidents (HARIs) in Nigera. The revealed that there is a raising trend of the activities of armed gangs on Nigerian road and strategic policy recommendations to curb this menace was offered

INTRODUCTION

BACKGROUND

According to Omoyibo and Akpomera (2013), security is a concept that is prior to the state, and the state exists in order to provide that concept. Security is the prime responsibility of the state (Thomas Hobbes, 1996). The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria specifically states that “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”. Unfortunately, government on this constitutional responsibility has failed to provide a secured and safe environment for lives, properties and the conduct of business and economic activities.

The alarming level of insecurity in Nigeria has fuelled the crime rate and terrorists attacks in different parts of the country, leaving unpalatable consequences for the nation‟s economy and its growth. To address the threat to national security and combat the increasing waves of crime the federal government in the 2013 budget made a huge allocation to security, and the national assembly passed the Anti-Terrorism Act in 2011 (Ewetan, 2013). Despite these efforts, the level of insecurity in the country is still high, and a confirmation of this is the low ranking of Nigeria in the Global Peace Index (GPI, 2012). Despite the plethora of security measures taken to address the daunting challenges of insecurity in Nigeria, government efforts have not produced the desired positive result. This has compelled the Nigerian government in recent time to request for foreign assistance from countries such as USA, Israel, and EU countries to combat the rising waves of terrorism and insecurity.

However the insecurity discussed in this study is narrowed down to gang related violence experienced in Nigerian highways of which armed robbery is cardinal. Nigeria has had more than its fair share of armed gang violence on its roads (NWGAV and AOAV, 2012). The absence of adequate security on highways and road sides in the country has left the highways unsafe. Facts show that the rate of crime in public transportation system in Nigeria is on the increase. The country has lost a good number of her productive population to the incidences of crime on-board public transportation, which most times result to road crashes. Experience has it that some criminals board vehicles as passengers and along the way rob people of their valuables while some hijack vehicles and drive to nearby bushes to unleash terror on the helpless victims, and in some cases stones, tyre rims and woods are used to stop vehicles (Okunola, 2009; Omidiji and Ibitoye, 2010; Iweze, 2011). Documentation of these incidents is however scanty and limited to some reports at different Police posts/offices along the highways. However, newspaper reports of victims are numerous.

There is no arguing the fact that Nigeria is under siege of gang related criminal elements on the highways. Apart from frequent armed robbery incidents, passengers are sometimes kidnapped during trips. The country has lost a good number of her productive populations to the incidences of crime on-board public transportation, which most times result to road crashes. Frequent announcements of various types of criminal activities in Nigeria roads over the years have become a disturbing issue to users, non-users and particularly the policy makers.

This have gone beyond local or national discourse, as International community’s keep given warning notifications about the insecurity of Nigerian road transport services. For instance, the Times International of London, (1985) commented on the alarming rate of criminal activities in Nigeria. While, the Travel Warning United States Department of Bureau of Consular Affairs also gives warning statements about the insecurity of road transportation in the country, particularly for the foreigners. For example, travelers were warned to avoid night travel, and about poor modes of road transportation and infrastructure and driving conditions (Onatere-Ubrurhe, 2015; Olukayode and Urhie, 2014; Okunola, 2009).

More disheartening is the fact that the international community ascertained the fact that Nigerian road transportservices poses risks simply because of the possibility of criminal activities to effectively take place when using road transportation service. Threats to live while using road transporthave become a disturbing issue to most Nigerians. These issues in recent time have dominated an array of debates involving policy makers and city managers. Presently, the situation has taken different dimension with the use of emerging road transport modes to perpetuate criminal activities. Experience has it that some criminals board vehicles as passengers and along the way rob people of their valuables while some hijack vehicles and drive to nearby bushes to unleash terror on the helpless victims, and in some cases stones, tyre rims and woods are used to stop vehicles (Onatere- Ubrurhe, 2015; Iweze, 2011; Omidiji and Ibitoye, 2010; Okunola, 2009)

STATEMENT OF PROBLEM

Whenever the number of deaths from gang related violent attacks is being mentioned, fifty percent (50%) of the incidents that occur on daily basis have no record because relatives at times will not have money to spend at the Police station. It is difficult to get any statistics on the extent of highway crime in Nigeria but the high rates of crime and violence keep the highways bloody and boiling. These attack usually occur at some dark spots such as the Lagos-Ore-Benin highway, Lagos-Ibadan highway, Lokoja-Okene higway, Abuja-Lokoja highway, Enugu-Port Harcourt highway, Abuja-Kaduna highway, Benin-Onitsha highway, Lagos-Seme Highway, Kaduna-Keffi highway, Asaba-Benin highway and a host of other highways. The Lagos-Shagamu-Ore-Benin highway has been tagged the devils highway and a nightmare by travellers. The regular and similar patterns of these violence occurrences had remained a cause of concern to many motorists especially as one could easily see police patrol vans and personnel very close to the scenes of such robberies. Despite public-private partnership, which propels key programmes and policies of government, insecurity and real threats to lives and property loom large on highways and cities. From Lagos to Benin, Lokoja to Abuja, Enugu to Port Harcourt to mention but a few, these tracks of problems are replicated in increasing magnitude. Yet the need to make the highways serene and comfortable for drivers and passengers cannot be overstretched. This is a huge task facing government and security agencies in Nigeria (Okunola, 2009; Ojinma et al, 2014).

OBJECTIVE OF STUDY

Base on the above mention problem the generally objective of this study is to assess the impact of armed gangs on the Nigerian road. Specifically the study the objectives are:

1.     To determine the trend of the activities of armed gangs on Nigerian roads

2.     To proposing a strategic action plan that will assist Policy makers and Security Personnel in taking proactive measures against Road Transport Insecurity in Nigeria.

RESEARCH QUESTION

In view of the above research objectives the following research questions are raised:

1.     What has been the trend of the activities of armed gangs on Nigerian roads?

2.      What strategic action plan will assist Policy makers and Security Personnel in taking proactive measures against Road Transport Insecurity in Nigeria?

SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY

This research will serve as a guide to policy makers in formulation of policies geared towards security in Nigerian roads.

SCOPE OF STUDY

The study looks at the effect of reign of armed gangs on the Nigerian road. The study takes into consideration the criminal activities of organized armed group on Nigerian highways.

LIMITATION OF THE STUDY

The limitation of this study is in the Documentation of these crime incidents, it is however scanty and limited to some reports at different Police posts/offices along the highways.


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